Grand Canyon National Park Photos
Have a Look at My Grand Canyon Photo Album
Looking down on the Bright Angel Trail and Indian Gardens from the South Rim
I've created this page as a collection of some of my favorite photographs (taken by me, that is) from Grand Canyon National Park, where I hike fairly often since I live just ninety miles away. I've included brief descriptions of the photos and links to more information about some of what's pictured here.
Some of these Grand Canyon images are available as prints, cards and other products from my Zazzle store. Please use the Contact Me link in my profile if you'd like to use any of these Grand Canyon photos, along with a link to the website where the image would be re-used.
Peek-a-Boo: A Bighorn on the Bright Angel Trail
That's my niece, Emily, on her first hike in the Grand Canyon. We ran into this friendly desert bighorn sheep on the way down to Indian Gardens.
I've seen a bighorn along the Bright Angel Trail several times, each time somewhere in the vicinity of the One-and-a-Half-Mile Rest House and the two-mile point, but whether it's the same one or not, I have no idea.
Desert bighorn sheep are often hard to spot in Grand Canyon, even in the open because they blend in quite well. They can scramble up a cliff face at 15mph, disappearing into terrain inaccessible to humans, so it's always a treat to catch sight of these beauties. The one pictured here is obviously quite accustomed to people. He stayed very close to trail for at least twenty minutes.
Grand Canyon Cactus Flowers
Single plants with two very different personalities
I love how such sharp, unforgiving plants produce beautiful, delicate flowers and the contrast between the blooms and the spines. I think that contrast makes for interesting photos.
Cactus flowers come in all colors of the rainbow in Grand Canyon
Prickly Pear Cactus flowers along the Bright Angel Trail
A Blooming Century Plant
A real treat to see and photograph
A "Century Plant" is actually an agave cactus. The myth about the bloom is that it happens only once every 100 years, hence the popular but misleading name.
In reality, this agave lives between ten and thirty years, sending up a flower stalk as much as 26 feet high just once at the end of its life. The plant then dies but produces shoots from its base, which continue to grow.
This type of agave was important to the Native Americans who once made the Grand Canyon their home, providing a source of soap, food, fiber, medicine and even weapons.
Century plants bloom in late spring and early summer. I took this photo in May on a hike down the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Gardens.
A Century Plant flower close-up
Century plants with the Bright Angel Trail and Indian Gardens in the background
Delicate Flowers in Grand Canyon
In such an amazing setting on a grand scale, it's nice to stop and look at the little things....
I don't know what most of the desert wildflowers are called that I see in Grand Canyon, but I enjoy them nonetheless.
Such beautiful things live in a such a harsh environment, with very little water and extremely hot temperatures during the summer months. I've been in the canyon when the thermometer at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Canyon read 130 degrees Fahrenheit!
Pictographs in Grand Canyon
The difference between pictographs and petroglyphs
The pictographs in this photo are located along the upper portion of the Bright Angel Trail, between the South Rim and Indian Gardens. If you know just when to look up from the trail, they're not difficult to spot, but most hikers don't realize they're there and pass right by.
So, what's the difference between pictographs and petroglyphs, then?
Pictographs are painted onto stone with some sort of mineral or plant substance and combined with a binder like fat or blood.
Petroglyphs, on the other hand, are carved, abraded or chipped into stone, and the outer surface of the stone is removed to expose the usually lighter color underneath.
Pictographs are much more fragile than petroglyphs, so they're usually found in protected places like beneath rock overhangs or caves.
Growing Shadows in Grand Canyon
This photograph was taken at about 7:30am on October 1st, at Cedar Ridge along the South Kaibab Trail. The colors in the Canyon were so vibrant at the time, and the chill of the morning was quickly wearing off.
My friends and I were hiking rim to rim that day, so we saw the canyon from before dawn till after dark. Our shadows became shorter and the temperature warmer as the day and those 21 miles went on.
Descending the South Kaibab Trail
A hike from rim to river
The South Kaibab Trail is one of the main "corridor" trails from the South Rim to the Colorado River. It's just over 7 miles long and is a ridge trail, so there's little shade along the way and no water. But it's a spectacular and very popular trail.
This photo was taken on a rim-to-rim hike last October.
Dropping below the rim....
Further down the South Kaibab Trail
Riding Mules in Grand Canyon
A part of Grand Canyon's history still seen and used today
Well, personally I prefer to walk.
But mules are a fixture in Grand Canyon and have been since the 1800s, when they were first used to aid in mining and later, in the 1880s, used commercially to transport tourists. They've carried millions of visitors from the Rim to the Colorado River and points in between. Mules have also carried supplies to hikers and work crews, including members of the Civilian Conservation Corps that did so much work on trails, rest houses, bridges, and other buildings and fixtures in Grand Canyon back in the days following the Great Depression.
Today, you see mule trains along the South Rim, on the Bright Angel Trail, and the South and North Kaibab Trails.
Read more about the history of mules in Grand Canyon.
The Black Suspension Bridge Across the Colorado River
There are two bridges that take hikers and mules across the Colorado River at the bottom of Grand Canyon. One is the silver suspension bridge at the bottom of the Bright Angel Trail. The other is the older, black suspension bridge about half a mile away at the bottom of the South Kaibab Trail. The two bridges are connected on the south side of the river by the River Trail.
The black bridge was completed in 1928. Before this bridge was built, the only way for mules and people to get across the river was to ride in a large metal cage on a cable, constructed by David Rust. The cage was just large enough for one mule or several people at a time. That mule or those people would have to climb into this open bar cage and move across the river while the cables were swinging.
Read more about the history and construction of the black suspension bridge.
A Mule Train Ascends the South Kaibab Trail - See the Black Suspension Bridge below
Looking down on the black bridge from the the South Kaibab Trail
The Bright Angel Fault
An amazing, very old but still active geological feature seen from the South Rim
From Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, looking about ten miles as the crow flies across to its counterpart on the north side, you can see the massive Bright Angel Fault. It's along the bottom of this fault, accompanied by Bright Angel Creek, that hikers can cover the 24 trail miles from the top of the Bright Angel Trail to the top of the North Kaibab Trail. (If you take the South Kaibab Trail to the river instead of the Bright Angel Trail, a rim to rim hike is 21 miles.)
Bright Angel Fault is still active, producing small earthquakes you can sometimes feel if you're in the Canyon.
Fall Colors on the North Rim
No photo editing necessary....
Each year around the end of September or beginning of October, our outdoors club does a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike. This past year, as I was leaving the North Rim, heading back to Flagstaff after completing my own rim-to-rim trek, I took this photo of stunning Fall colors on the Kaibab Plateau.
The yellow, orange and light green trees are aspen. The darker trees in the back are evergreen Ponderosa pine.
The South Bass Trail Descends Through the Redwall
A remote hike from South Rim to Colorado River
The South Bass Trail is one of Grand Canyon's more remote rim to river hikes, requiring a long drive on dirt roads, part of which cross Hualapai Indian Reservation land, to reach the trailhead.
The South Bass Trail leads hikers 7.8 waterless miles and more than 4,400 vertical feet from the South Rim to the Colorado River, where you can camp on the beach near the Ross Wheeler boat, abandoned where it lies in 1915.
I hiked this trail over three days time (one down and two back up, with a night on the beach and a night on the Esplanade) with my Ranger friend, who took me to see some archeological sites along the way.
You can read more about backpacking off Grand Canyon's Beaten Path and see photos from the trip in my South Bass Trail trip report.
The Ross Wheeler Boat, abandoned in 1915, sits on the rocks at the bottom of the South Bass Trail
More Grand Canyon Photography
Here are some beautiful books of Grand Canyon photography -- incredible vistas, flora and fauna, and the very little things you might otherwise miss -- taken at all times of year and all kinds of light.
These coffeetable books make wonderful gifts and great keepsakes, too.
Stunning photos from a variety of photographers, past and present.
Views Beyond the Beauty
Photographer Gary Ladd presents twenty North and South Rim overlooks, including Grand Canyon Village, Yavapai Point, Mather Point, Desert View, and Bright Angel Point, with more than 100 photos from rim to river.
This book also includes an interesting and engaging narrative, covering Grand Canyon geology, human history, prehistory, ecology and even the weather.
Path of Beauty
From photographer Christopher Brown comes this beautiful hardcover book filled with everything from broad vistas to intimate details of life along the Colorado River.