Kelly and I arrived at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on July 18th. It is only open in the summer because the road closes due to snow for the rest of the year. I had not been there before and looking forward to this trip. As we left Phoenix with 105 degree temperatures, I was thinking I was nuts. It turns out that the temperatures on the North Rim are about 30 degrees less, due to it being at an elevation of 8,000 feet. It is much more of a forest type environment, compared to the more desert like nature of the South Rim.
In the summer, the sun rises and sets behind you as you face the canyon from the North Rim. Photographically, this can be helpful. Normally, July is the monsoon season with nice big thunderstorms and clouds over the canyon. My frustration with weather for 2014 continued as we had nothing but clear blue skies for the four days we were on the North Rim. To make lemonade out of lemons, we did some Milky Way photography.
Our last evening, Kelly captured a nice wide angle photograph of the clouds as the sun was setting behind us. The morning we were leaving and heading for the South Rim, there were just enough clouds to grant us the one photograph we were able to come away with. It was good not to be totally skunked. We were only going to be on the South Rim for two days but the weather forecast was a little better.
The only way to get to the western viewpoints on the South Rim is on a shuttle bus, which we met at 4:15am to get out to Mojave Point for sunrise. Heavy clouds totally blocked any chance for a sunrise photo so we continued on the shuttle out to Pima Point and managed a photo showing a glimpse of the Colorado River. It seemed like a good area to shoot from in the winter, with the sun rising behind you.
We didn’t get the big, dramatic thunderstorms we were hoping for. Kelly’s photo, Canyon Storm, captured a small rainstorm crossing the canyon. I managed a nice sunset photo and that was about it for the South Rim.
The Grand Canyon is not an easy place to capture a quality photograph. It is, however, an amazing experience, and everyone should try to go there at least once. I will probably return someday as I feel as I have unfinished business there.