Where to Photograph in Grand Canyon National Park
From personal experience, these locations in Grand Canyon National Park are the best for landscape photography. I also offer my thoughts on when are the best times of the year to be there to capture the best possible photographs.
This is another one of the National Parks that has stunning views both in summer and in the winter. I have not had the opportunity to shoot here after a good winter snowfall, so that is on my list. The potential of storms over the canyon makes shooting in the summer monsoon season attractive. Fortunately, there is good internet service along the South Rim so you can track which overlook the storm is going to pass over. They seem to move from Southwest to Northeast most of the time.
All of the overlooks are different and have their own character. I watch the weather and cloud movement constantly and pick an overlook on the South Rim based on that where I feel I will have the best results. The far west end of the South Rim is accessible only by shuttle bus, which eliminates the last-minute decisions I usually make. I have a few shots from those overlooks, but I always gravitate back to the others where I can move freely from one to another.
If possible, stay inside the park. The entrance stations can get backed up and if you are going back and forth to your lodging, it can really slow you down.
My Favorite Locations
In my opinion, this is the most impressive of the overlooks. The early morning sun does an amazing job of lighting up both the front and back sides of the rock formations in the canyon. It’s kind of hard to explain how this works so well. Perhaps just coincidence, but I’ve had my best luck with storms here.
Also on the South Rim, Yavapai Point has a long trail along the rim allowing you to obtain quite a few different compositions. Like the other overlooks, your car is not far away if you have to change your mind and head to another location.
Sunrise in the summer is a great time to be at Moran Point. The sun is rising just out of the frame on the right and there a nice light-colored rock formation for the foreground. Off to the west, there are some very interesting formations in the canyon that allow for some great closeup shadows.
I have enjoyed being at Cape Royal every time I have made the trip to the North Rim. It’s a 45 minute drive from the lodge, so plan accordingly. I’m always thinking about shooting at some of the overlooks on the way there and then worry about what I might miss at Cape Royal so I pass them by. I could easily spend two weeks just at the North Rim to have time to shoot it all.
Other Locations In Grand Canyon National Park
It is a challenge with the shuttle, catching it at 4:30am to get out west for sunrise. However there are some overlooks that have potential like Hopi Point, Mohavi Point and Pima Point. You can capture a nice view of the Colorado River from Pima Point.
To the east on the South Rim, there is Lipan Point, Navajo Point and the Desert View Watchtower. If you keep the telephoto lens handy, there are lots of options for closeups of formations in the canyon from these overlooks.
Best Times To Be At Grand Canyon National Park
I like the summer from the South Rim as the sun is rising from the northeast and setting to the northwest. This allows for the color in the sky near the rising or setting sun to be in the photograph, adding additional drama. In the Fall, Winter and Spring, the sun is off to the side or behind you, which I don’t find as interesting.
On the North Rim there are views behind the lodge along with overlooks at Point Imperial, Cape Royal and a few along the way to Cape Royal. Cape Royal is the most popular view, overlooking a stunning scene. Here, there Spring and Fall can be advantageous to have the setting sun in the photograph. Summer storms can be impressive, but the lookout is a little way from your car and it can get a little dicey if the lighting gets too close.