Creating Grand Canyon Fine Art
The Grand Canyon is the most breathtaking canyon in the world. By following the weather and using the soft light of sunrise or sunset, impressive images of the canyon can be captured. Locations like Grandview Point, Yavapai Point, or Moran Point on the South Rim, or Cape Royal on the North Rim are where the magic happens.
Visiting and Photographing the Grand Canyon
The views in Arizona at the Grand Canyon are simply awe-inspiring, and it is difficult for photographs to convey the feeling of being there.
Most visits to the Grand Canyon start with a trip to the South Rim, just north of the city of Tusayan, Arizona. I view the South Rim in two sections. There is the section on the east end that allows you to drive to each of the viewpoints and there is the section on the west end that requires that you take the shuttle system.
The viewpoints to the east include Yavapai Point, Yaki Point, Mather Point, Grandview Point, Moran Point, Lipan Point, Navajo Point, and Desert View Watchtower. Every viewpoint has its own personality and views, but Grandview Point is probably my favorite, with good views to both east and west for sunrise and sunset and it's also rarely crowded.
For me, the viewpoints to the west have a significantly different feel. They include Maricopa Point, Powell Point, Hopi Point, Mohave Point, Pima Point, and Hermit’s Rest at the end of the road. I recall being on the first shuttle of the day at 5:00 am to have a sunrise opportunity.
As a photographer, I prefer being able to move freely from viewpoint to viewpoint, making moment-to-moment decisions based on radar information and weather conditions. This is critical when chasing images of storms over the canyon.
If you’re doing any serious photography, I recommend staying inside the park at one of the park lodges. I tend to stay at the Maswik Lodge or Bright Angel Lodge. This allows you to go back and forth to the viewpoints without having to deal with traffic backups at the park entrance station.
Summer storms tend to move from south to north and the North Rim viewpoints are a great place to photograph them coming across the canyon. The view at Cape Royal is my favorite, but the views at Point Imperial and from behind the Grand Canyon Lodge at Bright Angel Point are excellent.
The Grand Canyon offers the photographer more than just the big, wide-angle scene. Using a telephoto lens, there are opportunities to capture shadows at the bottom of the canyon, the Colorado River and more.
For the non-photographer, there are plenty of things to do like hiking, camping, riding a mule down into the canyon, and overnight rafting trips down the river. You can also get to the Park via the Grand Canyon Railway from Williams, Arizona.
If you can, spend some time at Grand Canyon National Park. You will be well rewarded.
Fun Facts About Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park is one of 63 National Parks in the United States and was designated as such in 1919 by Congress and President Woodrow Wilson. The Park is located in central Arizona near Flagstaff, covers over 1.2 million acres, and receives over 6 million visitors each year.
There are multiple ways to enjoy the Grand Canyon and one of the more interesting is to take a 2-day round trip mule tour to the bottom of the canyon. The mule is the perfect choice as it combines the sure-footedness of a burro with the larger size and strength of a horse. The first mule rides were offered in the late 1800s. Seeing the canyon from the inside up creates a memory of a lifetime as you view the dark black star-studded skies at night. Besides the canyon mule rides, you can also take a mule ride along the South Rim.
The mule is also very important to those who live at the Supai Village as it is the only place where mail is still delivered by the pack mule. The Supai Village is located at the base of the Grand Canyon within the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The village is accessible only by foot, pack animal, or helicopter and has a population of 208. The Village of Supai is well known for its waterfalls which are among the most photographed in the world.
Don’t want to ride a mule but still want some adventure? There are plenty of options including whitewater rapid rides down the 277 miles of the Colorado River, short or long hikes, or helicopter and hot air balloon tours during which you will have a panoramic view of the entire Grand Canyon.
The Grand Canyon Historic Village is another must-see place when visiting the Grand Canyon. In 1901, the first steam-powered train, a spur line of the Santa Fe Railway, arrived to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. With the arrival of the train, the need for accommodations became evident. Over the years, the initial Grand Canyon Village expanded to include lodges and shops. You can visit this area today and take a step back in time as you walk through the various buildings.
One such building is the Kolb Studio. Ellsworth and Emery Kolb were brothers and photographers. Their first photographic store was in Williams, Arizona but they moved their business in 1903 to near a trailhead of the Bright Angel Trail and operated it from a tent until 1905 when they build the Kolb Studio.
Their choice of a location near the Bright Angel Trail was a wise one as this trail has been the most popular hiking trail into Grand Canyon and is fairly easy to walk down. There are various destinations to see along the way. That said, the trail is more challenging to walk back up… sometimes to the surprise of hikers. You will also encounter mule riders along the way. The mules have the right of way and hikers are to step off the trail on the uphill side away from the edge.
Also located at the top of the Bright Angel Trail is the Bright Angel Lodge which was designed in 1935 and has a rustic character to it. Over the years there have been many modifications to the lodge. Today it has 90 lodging units ranging from cozy rooms to standard lodge rooms to historic cabins.
Perhaps the most famous accommodation in the Historic Village is the well-known “El Tovar” hotel. In 1902, the Santa Fe Railway commissioned the construction of El Tovar, a four-story hotel just a few dozen feet from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. When construction finished in 1905, El Tovar dwarfed nearby hotels and tents. The hotel cost $250,000 to build, and many considered it the most elegant hotel west of the Mississippi River.
It was named “El Tovar” in honor of Pedro de Tovar of the Coronado Expedition. Although Pedro de Tovar had never actually set eyes on the Grand Canyon, he was the one who reported the existence of the Canyon to the Spanish. The El Tovar today is recognized as a National Historic Landmark.
The Grand Canyon is one of the geological wonders of the world with waterfalls and rock formations that will take your breath away. But the area also provides you with a chance to step back in time and wander through the picturesque historic buildings. Doing so gives you the opportunity to appreciate the efforts made over the years to provide visitors with an enriching and memorable experience. The Grand Canyon and the surrounding areas are truly a must-see event to add to your bucket list.
It has a desert feel, but much different than the Desert Southwest or Death Valley.