Photographing the Grand Canyon at Sunset

Jessica Peterson

Watchtower at Grand Canyon, Arizona

I’m one of those weirdos who travels for days to get to far-flung jungles in Borneo before I visit a ton of closer and more obvious destinations such as the Grand Canyon.

I decided to devote a year to U.S. travel and started with a road trip through Arizona in May. Basing myself in Page, I hit up White Pocket, Upper Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and the Grand Canyon in one week. I also took time to admire the red rocks of Sedona.

So, how does a place as storied as the Grand Canyon measure up in reality? The first thing that struck me about the canyon is how remote it is. Cell service is almost non-existent and there’s no gaudy tourist traps nearby — both good things, really. Secondly, entrance to Grand Canyon National Park is pricey, starting at $25 per vehicle. Third, it’s better to budget more than enough rather than too little time for the canyon. I spent only an afternoon in one location, so I have a very incomplete picture of this national treasure.

I entered at the South Rim and headed for the Watchtower, an imposing 70-foot stone tower constructed in 1932. There are lots of places to perch and admire the bending Colorado River below. Some visitors do so less reverentially than others, but I’m not judging. I watched as couples took selfies and Millennial males stripped off their tops and flexed for what I’m sure they hoped would be viral Insta captures.

I sat solitary waiting for the sun to set, shivering in the dim May light, but unwilling to miss such good photography conditions. Fortunately, a stranger photographed me while I soldiered along in my quest for the perfect canyon photo. Thank you, Claire Webster!

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Jessica Peterson

Jessica Peterson is a travel filmmaker, photographer, and journalist. She released her first documentary film about indigenous culture on Guam in 2016, after having lived nearly 7 years on the Pacific island. Jessica is currently on the Great American Roadtrip in her Airstream trailer.
Jessica Peterson
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  • Colleen Eaddy

    Absolutely Gorgeous! This article and your glorious photos renewed my resolve to visit the Grand Canyon sooner rather than later. Looking forward to your upcoming stories on US Travel. Hubbie and I are planning trips & need your tips. Thanks!

    • Hi Colleen! Thanks for reading. I’ve got new posts on Asheville, NC, Washington, D.C., Cincinnati, and Charleston planned for this year.

  • I love natural places at sunset. The reds seem to glow even more.

  • These pictures are absolutely stunning!! I am itching to get to the Grand Canyon and this has only spurred on my drive to get there ASAP!! Hoping for mid 2017!!