If you’re keen to find some dramatic scenery to use in landscape photography, then the Grand Canyon is truly one of the best places to take your camera.
The staggering desert landscape seems to change drastically depending on the time of day and the season. You might spot oranges and reds in the cliffs at sunrise, or purple and blue hues on a cloudy day. You can capture the deep green fir trees dotting the terrain in summer, or dustings of white snow covering the rocks in winter.
There are so many amazing places for photography at the Grand Canyon that you could easily spend years trying to find them all. I’ve explored this natural attraction on three separate occasions, and each visit has given me a new set of photo opportunities. Here’s my suggestions on where to find the best photography spots at the Grand Canyon!
Grand Canyon Photography Tips:
- Experiment at different times for color variations in the landscape. The Grand Canyon seems to constantly change its appearance depending on the light and weather. Give yourself plenty of time to see it evolve throughout the day.
- Use people for scale in your photos. The massive size of the Grand Canyon can be lost in images which have nothing in the foreground. A person looking small in the distance can put that vast amount of space into perspective.
- The Grand Canyon can be a great place for shots of the starry night sky or for photographing lightning as storms can be watched from a distance. If you’re chasing storms, be careful. Stay close to your car so that you can use it for shelter if the weather gets too close.
- Protect your gear from dust. You’re in the desert, after all! A travel camera bag will help to keep your gear safe from dirt while you’re moving between photography locations at the Grand Canyon.
- Be safe! Many of the walking trails and cliffs around the Grand Canyon do not have protective barriers to stop people from falling off the edge, and the temperatures can soar to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer. You might be surprised to find out that around a dozen people die every year at the Grand Canyon, some of which are due to falls and heat exhaustion. Don’t become one of them.
Photography Spots at the Grand Canyon:
- Hopi Point
- Bright Angel Trail
- Ooh Ahh Point
- Grandview Point
- Desert View Watchtower
- Havasu Falls
- North Rim
- Angels Window
- Aerial View
Hopi Point is one of the easiest viewpoints to access, which makes it a popular photo spot. This South Rim vista is slightly less crowded than some of the other areas that are closer to Grand Canyon Village, though it can still get fairly busy throughout the day.
The location is well-known for photographers wanting to catch the natural light at sunrise and sunset as the light moves over the canyon walls and creates long shadows. You may need to take a neutral density filter to even out the light in your photos.
Bright Angel Trail
Bright Angel Trail begins at Grand Canyon Village and descends down to the base of the canyon. The 6 mile hike is suited to intermediate hikers, but you don’t have to do the entire trail to get good views. The section nearest to the top has some neat rock tunnels and good vista points along the cliffs.
Be mindful of the mules and their riders that make their way up and down the canyon via this trail. The path is fairly narrow, so be careful with tripods as you may find your gear blocking their passage!
Ooh Ahh Point
The appropriately named Ooh Ahh Point can be reached from the South Kaibab Trailhead on the South Rim. It’s a 2 mile hike into the canyon to arrive at this spectacular lookout.
You’ll be rewarded with a sweeping view as well as a cute wooden sign that can be used as a prop. Be sure to take a wide-angle lens to capture the foreground in front of the landscape at this amazing Grand Canyon photography spot.
Grandview Point is one of the quieter photography locations between the South Rim and East Rim, though the lack of people doesn’t mean that the views are any less good. Right next to the parking bay is a lookout with rocky outcrops which are useful for perspective shots of the canyon.
If you have a travel buddy, this is a great place to arrange them in the frame for scale. Take a zoom lens for depth options and try taking some photos from a distance with varying levels of zoom.
Desert View Watchtower
Desert View Watchtower is a historic 70-foot (21 m) tall cylindrical stone building that sits at the East Rim entrance to the national park.
You can choose to climb the tower to get a 360 degree perspective from the top, or set yourself up at the base to capture the outward views towards the canyon with the tower standing proudly at the cliff edge. An extreme wide-angle lens would be useful for this shot.
Havasu Falls are located deep in the canyon on a tribal reservation. This is the least accessible of this list of photography locations, but it’s also the most desirable due to the area’s stunning beauty.
The blue-green waterfall spills over into an oasis-like pool which contrasts nicely against the warmth of the rocks and desert sand surrounding it. A travel tripod is definitely recommended for this spot as a long exposure will properly capture the falls in all their glory.
To get to Havasu Falls, you can hike from the Havasupai Trailhead at the South Rim, though this lengthy hike is reserved for permit holders who are staying overnight on the reservation. Be sure to make your bookings well in advance!
The North Rim is about 1000 feet higher than the South Rim and receives much less visitors–only about 10% of the canyon’s total tourists. This section of the national park is closed during the winters but is open for people who want a different view of the canyon during the remainder of the year.
Grand Canyon Lodge sits on the edge of the rim and offers an amazing vista directly from its balcony. Bright Angel Point is another good option for photos as it’s an easy walk from the Visitor Center.
If you’re up for a hike, drive back up the road to North Kaibab Trailhead. From there you can venture down to Coconino Outlook which offers a more narrow view from inside the valley.
Another photography spot near the North Rim can be found by driving to Cape Royal to see the Angels Window natural arch. Due to tricky road conditions, this drive is only accessible from May to October each year.
From the Cape Royal parking area, you can walk to the Angels Window overlook to see the arch with light peeking through between the rocks. A telephoto lens might be a good option for capturing the tiny people in the distance as they walk out over the arch. You can also walk out to the viewpoint to capture the jagged valley as it stretches out to the south.
A flight is not the cheapest way to photograph the Grand Canyon, but an aerial view of the Colorado River as it winds its way along the valley floor is totally unbeatable! Drone photography is unfortunately not allowed within the national park, so booking a helicopter flight is the only way to capture this unique view of the landscape.
Most helicopter tours depart from Grand Canyon Airport at Tusayan, which is a 15 minute drive from Grand Canyon Village at the South Rim.
I hope you are able to get some amazing photos from these places at the Grand Canyon! Have you got any suggestions for Grand Canyon photography spots? Share them with us in the comments!
Ashlea is an excitable Australian with a passion for photography, sustainability, and travel. She is the creator of A Globe Well Travelled – a blog for those who want to be more adventurous while exploring the world.