This photo essay is from a recent road trip around the wild west of the United States, with the Grand Canyon being one of the highlights, even if it’s a huge tourist attraction. Below are my 25 favorite photos from the breathtaking Grand Canyon South Rim.
The ever-changing landscapes flashed by to the tune of “King of the Road” as we pushed on and on that hazy two-lane highway, knowing we had to make up time. Knowing we had no reservation. There was a slight worry we’d arrive and be shit-out-of-luck, but the euphoria of being on a road trip masked that. But with the late start and occasional stop at the weird attractions you find out in the desert, we arrived much later than we had hoped.
When we arrived at the Grand Canyon, we arrived to some seriously bad news.
We pulled up at the ranger station and were greeted by a sign that read “No Spaces Available”. Our hearts sank. We had driven 5+ hours and over 300 miles to get to the Grand Canyon but had failed to reserve a spot ahead. We thought we could wing it. Clearly, that was a bad assumption.
We both looked at each other with exhausted faces, crushed by this news. If we couldn’t stay the night somewhere in the South Rim, we’d have to drive miles and miles back the way we came. And we would probably not be able to hike down into the Grand Canyon in the morning.
This was a childhood dream, and somehow even driving across the United States, I still hadn’t camped there. The little kid in me wept, and the man in me cursed myself for not booking ahead.
Screw it. I’ll just ask them for kicks anyway, even though they’ll probably just point to the sign.
“Is there any availability for tonight in the campground?”
The ranger gave me a look, as if to tell my sorry and tired self it wasn’t likely and began clicking away on the computer.
“Well, if you’re just staying tonight, we have one spot left.”
“YES!” I blurted out way too loud. I couldn’t believe our luck! Last spot. Not planned. 300 miles and we made it into the park just at the last second.
I wanted to do some cartwheels or a heel click, but I feel they might have revoked the pass. But it all worked out.
Sometimes you risk not planning and end up with an epic failure on your hands which has happened too many times. In this case, we came up much luckier than we did in Las Vegas the night before.
There was just enough daylight to throw the tents up and rush to the South Rim edge to catch the sunset. So we pulled into our camp spot, quickly changed into something warmer as the desert night’s cold was beginning to defend on the canyon, and rushed over.
And all because of a little sprinkle of luck, we had the opportunity to see the sunset over the Grand Canyon south rim.
This was an incredible and breathtaking experience, staring into a mile deep scar in the earth gazing at the millions of years of history carved through by a much smaller river. This was the Grand Canyon, in all its glory before my eyes. Grand just doesn’t do it justice. I could finally feel it, and touch it, and sense it. And being afraid of heights, I could feel my legs and stomach turn to jelly.
Since we managed to camp here the night, we were able to see sunset and sunrise, and even hike down almost to the Colorado River. And it was one of the most memorable travel experiences. Sunset turns the canyon from red-hot and gold to deep purple. Sunrise paints the Grand Canyon in orange with morning beams of golden light and was one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen. Once inside the canyon, everything changes to a deep blood orange and crimson color.
Damn Mother Nature, you’ve outdone yourself. Here she is, 25 of my favorite photos from my stay in the Grand Canyon.
Sunset over the Grand Canyon South Rim
Sunrise over the Grand Canyon
There will be much more to come from this road trip, and articles about the grueling and amazing hike into the Grand Canyon coming soon. To get notified, subscribe to the newsletter to know when it drops!