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  • Writer's pictureCraig Zerbe

Grand Canyon Village and Visitor Center area - Vol.4

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

Grand Canyon Village and Visitor Center

You may want to read my introdution to the area first: Photographing the Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

This area is closest to the main entrance to the National Park with lots of parking, so it deninately gets the most tourist traffic.

Getting Around

There is a shutle than runs through the area, but with the exception of Yaki Point and the Kaibab Trailhead you are probably just better off parking and walking to your various destinations. There is considerable parking at the vistior center, but it is also where most tourists head to, so the lots can get full by mid moring during the summer. The Shrine of the Ages (Lot A) parking area is a good bet to find parking, even later in the day. Another great location is the Yavapai Point parking area. It has a restroom, is just steps from the rim, but it has fewer parking spot and may fill up later in the morining.

If you ware headed to Yaki Point or the South Kaibab Trailhead and it is early moring or late afternoon, park in the Visitor Center Parking lots near the bus terminal, if possible, to catch the Kaibab Rim shuttle (Orange Route). This shuttle can be picked up at the Yavapai Point paking lot too.

There is a paved trail along the entire rim in this area that runs about 2 miles from one end to the other.

Photo Locations (from west to east)

My Ratings

* Worth the visit

** Among the Best

*** Not to be missed

* Bright Angel Trailhead is located at the western end of the Grand Canyon Village area. There are some interesting perspecives you can get by hiking even a short ways down the path. To the left of the trailhead entrance there are some nice overlooks where you can take nice shots that looks down on the trail, Indian Gardens Oasis and out into the canyon beyond.

Grand Canyon National Park Bright Angel Trail and Indian Gardens
Bright Angel Trail and Indian Gardens

* Grandeur Point is not marked on some maps (including this link). It's to the east of the Village area and west of Yavapai Point. Between the two, the rim curves and faces a westerly direction. From here, you can look down at the winding Bright Angel Trail and its many switchbacks.

** Yavapi Point, has expansive views and is an excellent sunrise location. Setting up on the western side can make for good sunset views as well. The close byYavapai Point parking area also contributes to this being one of the most convieniant sunrise spots as well.

*** Mather Point. This is the most popular spot in the entire Grand Canyon. It is the closest overlook to the Visitor Center and the bus terminal for the shuttles coming in from nearby tourist town of Tusayan. Parking is not an issue of you are coming for sunrise. This is a fantastic spot for sunrise, either at the the "offical" overlook (which always has some tourists) or at numerous spots along Rim Trail to the east. There are a number of interesting out croppings and towers that can add some foreground interest. You will sometimes see tourists who have climbed out to these giving a nice added perspective to your image.

** South Kaibab Trailhead. Predawn buses, loaded with hikers and their gear, disembark passengers to begin the trek to the bottom of the mighty Grand Canyon. You don't however need to hike to the bottom of the canyon for some good photo opportunities. Near the begninning of the trail the many switchbacks that make an interesting subject and Ooh Aah Point is 0.9 miles and offers some great views. If you are bold, Cedar Ridge is another 0.6 miles byond that, has restrooms, and some good photo opportunities too. There is water at the trailhead if you didn't being any. There is no water on the trail and you will want some for the 1000 feet elevation gain back to the canyon top.

South Kaibab Trail - Grand Canyon National Park
South Kaibab Trail shortly after dawn.

*** Yaki Point is the furthest stop on the Orange Shuttle loop. This is a spectacular sunrise spot. The shuttle starts running an hour prior to sunrise. On a number of occaissionsI, I have run into photo workshops shooting here at dawn. Because a bus ride or a rather lengthy walk is required to get there, fewer visitors will be here at sunrise than at Mather Point. You may want walk a little ways to the east from the shuttle stop to get the sunrise views you are looking for. Sunset is nice here too, but not as good as sunrise. There will be a lot more people here at sunset and there is also less "prime" real estate facing west to image from. So, get here a little early if you want a lot of flexibility picking your "spot"


Check out our other Grand Cayon National Park (South Rim) Guides

East Rim/Desert View Drive

West Rim/Hermit's Rest

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