The Grand Canyon, a natural wonder on earth, was formed by the Colorado river and movement of giant tectonic plates, around 6 million years ago, roughly around the times’ Dinosaurs existed. We will run you through the Best Places to take Photos at Grand Canyon. To be fair, no camera can capture the raw beauty of the canyon and considering the Grand Canyon National Park being spread out across 1900 square miles, these places are not limited to the below points. But, we can assure that you will see the best side of the Canyon on your trip.
The Grand Canyon was primarily carved by the Colorado River trying to find its easiest way to flow after the Colorado Plateau was lifted due to tectonic plate movements, eventually eroding the rocks in its way and deepening the Canyon.
Grand Canyon National Park Entry Price:
The entry fee to Grand Canyon national park is as follow:
Grand Canyon National Park Fees: (For all 4 Side East Rim, West Rim, North Rim and South Rim):
Vehicle permit 1-7 Days: $35
Motorcycle Permit 1-7 Days $30
Bicycling/Walking 1-7 Days $20
Grand Canyon Pass 1 Year $70
The above fees are applicable only once and stay valid for 7 days for multiple entries from any direction. For example, we paid an entry fee of $35 at South Rim entrance, visited some other places and used the same ticket after 2 days at North Rim entrance.
Best Photo Spots in Grand Canyon South Rim
- Lipan Point: This by far is the best viewpoint of the Canyon. The reason being firstly this point is a bit elevated. It takes you to the edge of the canyon and top of the canyon which gives you a perfect opportunity to see the Canyon displayed right in front of you at an eye level. This Point gives you a beautiful view of the calm Colorado river. You will also, notice tour helicopters flying low at these points. To get here drive approximately 30 minutes eastbound from the Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Centre on Highway 64 (Desert View Drive) covering approximately 21 miles/34 km.
- Navajo Point: Just about half a mile further eastbound from Lipan Point is Navajo Point. This point also gives a great view of the Colorado River and its route and extension. You can spot the curves of the Canyon from this spot. If you have time or if you are heading eastbound suggestion would be to continue on this route as for about 10-12 miles the Canyon would be with you on your left making your drive mesmerizing.
- Desert View Watch Tower – This spot is technically the first stop people make if entering the Grand Canyon National Park from the east side. Offering great views, this place can become fairly crowded with tourists as it also has a deli restaurant, fuel station, picnic area and a campground.
If you have reached the Grand Canyon South Rim (the above 3 points are also on the south rim but are only accessible on your eastbound drive out) our suggestion is to stay for a night at the south rim. If you do an organised tour from Las Vegas, the tour operator will provide you with a pick-up and drop off but you will have a long and tiring day not giving you many opportunities to explore the canyon and its perimeter (Rim). This is what we did the first time when we visited the Grand Canyon back in 2014 when we also opted for a Helicopter tour of the Canyon, by far the best experience.
This time we decided to stay on the South Rim since we rented an RV. Driving gave us the leverage of time and benefit to explore the South Rim. So if you have a full day on the South Rim there are a couple of things do on the rim. The best way to explore the rim is on foot. Walk the 21 km easy and paved Rim Trail. Set out early in the morning with your camera, sturdy shoes and plenty of water. Staying hydrated should be the rule of thumb at the whole doing any trails at the Grand Canyon.
Best Photo Spots at Grand Canyon
Here are few more best photo spots at Grand Canyon.
- Hopi Point: On this trail, westbound make a stop at Hopi Point. If you are not a big fan of walking, don’t you worry. The park has made great facilities for day-trippers to explore this trail through buses. Take a bus which says Red Route, head westbound and make a stop at this point.
- Maricopa Point: Walk on the same directions that are westbound and make a stop at Maricopa point. Maricopa Point is the next stop after the Hopi point on the Red Route. The view of the canyon opens up at this point giving you an illusionary view of the canyon. The colour gets better as well.
- Powells Point: The Last Stop on the Red Route and is also the next stop after Maricopa Point. This is the best spot on the west Bound route. The point has few benches to sit around and also a platform on the edge which is a perfect picture spot with the canyon on the backdrop. This point is also perfect to get some sunset shots as you can gradually see the colour of the Canyon turn from Red to Pink to Golden. If you feel enthusiastic look for a small slip and walk down to the lower level which will take you to the heart of the Canyon giving you an ideal chance and privacy from the tourist.
- Bright Angle: For the hikers and adventure enthusiasts walk this bright angle trail which is going down the canyon and passing through 2 tunnels. The trail starts nice and easy as it descends. The trail is unpaved unlike the Rim trail so you need sturdy shoes. The challenge begins on the way back as the way back you are only ascending. This trail is for hikers who wish to go all the way down to the base of Colorado river. You need advance permission to do this hike and also all the gears that will keep you self sufficient for the night. The trail is about 9 hours to the base. And it is advisable to stay for the night as the next day is the challenge of only ascending 9 hours. We went up to the one and a half mile rest area and made our way back up. Which can take up to 2-3 hours! There are rest areas at 3 Miles and Indian Garden which is about 6 miles return trip, hence plan accordingly.
Best Place to Camp in Grand Canyon South Rim:
There are in total of 3 campgrounds in the South Rim. For people on RV 2 of these sites offer full hook up options. The best and the most reasonable option we thought was to park at Mather Campground (reservation is a must). Mather Campground has 319 sites in total and costs $18/night. This campground is closer to the South Rim Visitor centre and all the bus stops and 5 minutes walking to the supermarket. This site offers no hook up’s at all but has the facility for water and waste dump, paid showers and a laundromat. It is easy to spot Bucks moving around the site. Surrounded by beautiful trees and fire pits at each spot for campers or people who want to set up a tent. RV size restriction is up to 25 feet.
The other option was Trailer Campground offers full hook up’s. Similar location and facilities but charges $40 a night.
Let’s drive to the most colourful side of the Canyon, The North Rim. This side of the Canyon, unlike the South rim, is far less commercialised. It is very quiet and untouched. It is hard to see tourist here except the ones who like peace and serenity and of course the locals from a different state of the United States.
How to get to Grand Canyon North Rim
The only way to reach the Grand Canyon north rim is through self-driven cars or RV’s. There are no tours on this site. It’s about 230 miles/370 km from Las Vegas and could take up to 5 hours to drive. If you like camping then this place is ideal for you. There is plenty of space in the Kaibab National Forest which is just 30 minutes drive from North Rim and allows dispersed camping. Just pick a spot and you are good to go.
Best photography spots in the Grand Canyon North Rim
- Bright Angle Point: This Point is at an elevation of 8161 feet. Like the South Rim, the North rim also has a point name, Bright Angel. But, unlike the south rim, this point is a short and easy paved trail of about 0.5 miles or 0.8 km long. Allow about 30 minutes of total time for pictures and walking. This Point offers a perfect view of the Canyon from a height and also has some hidden spots that take you to the edge of the Rim (at your own risk. We DO NOT encourage if you are not confident with Heights).
- Imperial Point: This Point is at an elevation of 8803. Follow the signs for Imperial Point. From the North Rim Visitor centre, the drive is exactly 11 miles or 18 Km on windy roads about 30 minutes. This point will also be a perfect picnic spot or if you want to stop for lunch as there are plenty of picnic tables in this area. There are about 3-4 trails that start from this point if you have plenty of time. Being on such an elevation Imperial Point offers fantastic views of the Canyon.
- Vista Encantada: On the same route come down through these windy roads to the elevation of 8480 feet. Vista Encantada offers even better views in my opinion than the Imperial Point as from here you get a clear view of the Colorado River.
- Walhalla Outlook: Driving further down to 7998 feet Walhalla Outlook offers similar views like Vista Enchatada with the spectacular views of the Colorado River. To be honest the Canyon opens up showcasing the colourful canyon and stream of the Colorado River.
- Cape Royal: Follow the windy road down to 7865 feet. Cape royal offers 0.8 miles or 1.3 km round trip trail. This trail displays an ANGEL WINDOW and the Colorado River. This view from this spot is also spectacular. Give yourself about 30-40 minutes for this trail and enjoy the beauty of the River and the Window.
Best Place to Camp in Grand Canyon North Rim.
Here is when it squares down to your choice, capability and preparation. The Grand Canyon Nation Park had two administrations within it. The Grand Canyon National Park and Kaibab National Forest and both have their own set of rules and regulations. While the Grand Canyon National park allows camping at a designated campground which is about 5 minutes drive from the North Rim itself, is more facilitated with water supplies, grocery stores, washrooms etc. and costs $18/night to camp.
The Kaibab National Forest allows dispersed camping, which means you pick a spot of your choice and it is yours for as long as you like. However, there is no facility, not even a dumpster, which requires you to be prepared for the duration of your stay but is absolutely free.
The camping spot we will describe now was guided to us by the Ranger at the Jacob Lake Visitor Centre and turned out to be the best we could ever look for. Approximately 30 minutes drive from either Jacob Lake or the North Rim and about 1/2 mile south of Kaibab Lodge on highway 67 head east at the junction on Route 611. Drive for approximately 30 minutes on the dirt road, follow the signs to Route 611, cross signs which say,”No camping for the next 1 mile”, cross the East Rim Viewpoint Trailhead and finally you will find campsites which will be less than 10 feet from the East Rim. The views here are to kill for. If you plan to camp here, make it here by noon as getting the best spots can become a challenge later.
Getting there the first time can run you out of patience but hang in there and keep driving as your patience will bear fruit. We were giving up ourselves and started to return halfway when we spotted a few people still driving along. We followed them and Violla!! There it was. Picture below.
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- Start your trip early and if you plan to stay in the camping sights during season book in advance.
- Carry important camping or RV accessories.
- Don’t forget your Camera and look enjoy the above points and most important get the best picture of the Grand Canyon.
- Stay Hydrated while hiking and also otherwise.
- Enjoy and safe travels.