Sunday, July 14, 2013

Grand Canyon Splendor

The Grand Canyon from Yavapai Point

It had been years and years since I'd been to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Wading through large crowds of people and having to wait for access to the views were the biggest reasons. And people tend to follow you when you step out on a overlook or the edge. This trip was no exception. As soon as people saw me below the railed overlook, they came in droves.

But it was okay, I knew what I was getting into. I did my own thing, used the cameras tourists handed me and took their photographs. People were all smiles and very friendly. It seemed like everyone was from somewhere other than the USA and was great sport trying to figure out all the languages being spoken as people would pass by.

Monsoon action

The weather was fantastic. The forecast before I left Phoenix was for 90 degrees and a 20% chance of rain. But the monsoon was in full swing and it rained on and off the entire afternoon. If it ever got above 70, I would be surprised. My rain shell kept me mostly dry but at one point I actually got cold. What a treat in the middle of July in Arizona especially in light of the triple digit temperatures I'd left behind in Phoenix.

After a hike and the biggest soaking of the day at Yavapai Point, it was on down the road to Grand View. I sat in the truck for a while as the rain came down hard. But it wasn't long before it eased up. I wandered down to the rail to see what the canyon looked like. A couple previous spots to pull over yielded a canyon completely veiled in clouds. It was like the canyon wasn't even there.

Grand View Point

The deep cut of the canyon from Grand View was really nice. The canyon itself was very colorful even on this overcast day.

Lipan Point

On down the road a bit more, the view from Lipan Point was stunning. I took this long telephoto panorama of the atmospherics of the various distant ridges. This kind of stacking was the big draw on the east side of the canyon and one I saw over and over. I spent some time here sitting on a rock and enjoying the scene. It was quiet and peaceful. 

The Watchtower

The last stop was the Desert View overlook. This is the big stop as you come in the park from the east gate. It was crawling with people squeezing up to the railing to look out over the canyon. The Watchtower is another feature of this vista. I could see a steady stream of people climbing the stairs to the top and peering out. 

I found the atmospherics here to be top notch. A long telephoto shot of the distant canyon produced one of my favorite shots of the trip. The sun's rays fanned out below the monsoon clouds. It was a pretty special site. But there would be one more surprise. I packed up and decided to go back to Yavapai Point for the sunset. 

Yavapai Point Sun Drop

The large crowd of people assembled at Yavapai Point to witness this sunset actually broke into applause when the sun final went out of sight. I had goosebumps. We were all amazed when the sun dipped below the clouds and produced this scene. Even though I'd avoided the south rim and the crowds, that's what made this so special. The shared experience of seeing such a beautiful sight with so many adoring fans was a perfect way to end the day in this most iconic of America's national parks.

Sun Drop, Yavapai Point

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