Here top Grand Canyon viewpoints are revealed by outdoor photography expert Bill Ferris. Don’t miss his recommendations for the best Grand Canyon views. Looking for the best places to catch Grand Canyon sunsets or sunrises? Whether you’re an Instagrammer, a photographer or simply want to sit and soak in the views, Bill has spots for you! Take a look!
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Top Grand Canyon overlooks
“What’s your favorite overlook at Grand Canyon?” It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot.
As a nature photographer based in northern Arizona, many of my favorite landscapes have been made at the Grand Canyon. And while there’s truth in the saying that there are no bad views of the “Big Ditch,” there are a handful among the dozens of vistas along both the South and North Rims that I keep going back to.
This is my list of “Top 5 Grand Canyon Viewpoints” for photography at Grand Canyon.
—Bill Ferris is an Arizona-based wildlife and nature photographer specializing in images of the Desert Southwest. Visit his gallery at billferris.photoshelter.com
1. Lipan Point—A best place to see sunset at Grand Canyon
Lipan Point offers spectacular views in all directions from the South Rim. Located along the East Rim Drive, about five minutes from Desert View, Lipan Point is often my first choice for sunrise or sunset photography at the Grand Canyon.
Whether early morning light kisses the tops of the buttes and temples below the rim or late day light paints those same monuments in silhouette, the views from Lipan Point never fail to amaze.
Looking east, the Palisades of the Desert, Escalante and Cardenas buttes, and the Colorado River can be used to anchor compositions. Shifting perspective to the west, Vishnu Temple, Wotans Throne, Angels Gate and the endless side canyons beyond beg for wide-angle compositions calling attention to Grand Canyon’s full majesty.
What’s the best place to see sunset at Grand Canyon? Bill says Lipan Point is often his first choice for photographing sunrise or sunset at Grand Canyon. But read on—he has more recommendations for more best places to see sunset at Grand Canyon…and sunrise, too!
2. Point Imperial—One of the best Grand Canyon viewpoints
No visit to the North Rim of Grand Canyon would be complete without a visit to Point Imperial for a sunrise photo shoot. At an elevation of 8,803 feet, Point Imperial is the highest of the overlooks along the rim.
Nearby, Mount Hayden dominates the view to the southeast and is among the first temples to catch sunrise light. Far below, Nankoweap Creek carves an undulating path through the inner canyon en route to its junction with the Colorado River.
The view north is defined by Saddle Mountain, with the Vermillion Cliffs far beyond. During the summer months, monsoon storms add a moody quality to the eastern Grand Canyon, as seen from Point Imperial.
Point Imperial at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim is on Bill’s list of best Grand Canyon viewpoints. Make sure that you book your North Rim accommodations before you go.
It’s a three-hour, 52-minute drive from Grand Canyon South Entrance to the North Rim.
3. Cape Royal—Favorite of the Grand Canyon overlooks
This is arguably my favorite viewpoint at the Grand Canyon. I go to Cape Royal for sunset views whenever I’m at the North Rim.
It’s a 23-mile drive from the North Rim Visitor Center to the overlook along Cape Royal Road. Arriving, you’ll find abundant parking in a large gravel lot.
The rim trail is paved and relatively flat for 1/3-mile to the vista, where you’re greeted with a dramatic view of Wotans Throne. Beyond the Throne, Zoroaster and Brahma temples and the South Rim frame the view.
As the sun drops near the western horizon, watch for a brilliant wave of light to wash through the Canyon. It paints the Redwall limestone cliffs a ruddy hue and casts deep shadows, adding a dramatic quality to the scene.
A visit during July or August may reward you with a view of a distant monsoon downpour lashing the ancient gorge with rain.
Check out the map below of Bill’s top Grand Canyon overlooks. These are the perfect spots to watch the sunrise or sunset and capture your own panoramic, Instagram-able experiences.
Safety first: please watch your step.
4. Desert View—One of Grand Canyon South Rim best views
Returning to the South Rim, let’s make the 23-mile drive from Grand Canyon Village along the East Rim Drive to Desert View.
This is where you’ll find the iconic Desert View Watchtower. Designed by Mary Coulter, the tower rises 70 feet from ground level and can be used to anchor landscape or night sky compositions.
The view below the rim delivers wide-open vistas of Tanner Canyon and the Colorado River. On a mid-summer day, you may witness a river party running the rapids in large inflatables.
There are photo ops galore at any time of day, but the best light will be at sunrise or sunset.
While Bill reminds us that there are no bad views of the “Big Ditch,” be sure to add Desert View, one of the Grand Canyon South Rim best views, to your must-do list.
5. Yaki Point—Another of the Grand Canyon South Rim best views
Our last stop is also on the South Rim, at Yaki Point. Yaki Point is accessible by the park’s free shuttle bus service or on foot.
There’s a picnic area near the road to the overlook where you can park and social trails to follow through the forest to the overlook. It’s about a 15-minute walk.
When you arrive, you’ll be treated to one of the best views of the western Grand Canyon available anywhere in the park.
Immediately beneath the rim is the slender profile of Cedar Ridge leading to O’Neill Butte. The wide-open Tonto platform spreads out like a tablecloth below, with Bright Angel Creek Canyon carving a narrow channel from the Colorado River to the North Rim.
When the elements cooperate, and light from the setting sun rushes like a tidal wave through the inner canyon from the west, you’ll understand why Yaki Point joins Desert View, Cape Royal, Point Imperial and Lipan Point as among my favorite viewpoints for photography in Grand Canyon National Park.
Best viewpoints Grand Canyon conclusion: Where is the best view of the Grand Canyon?
When you ask, ‘Where is the best view of the Grand Canyon?’ Bill says the Cape Royal is his favorite viewpoint.
The outdoor photography expert goes to Cape Royal for sunset views whenever he’s at the North Rim. If you enjoyed Bill’s article about top Grand Canyon viewpoints, please share it using the red and blue buttons below.
Grand Canyon viewpoints map
See Bill Ferris’ Top 5 Grand Canyon Viewpoints on the map above.
Bill says, “The natural world has framed my life since childhood. Today, I am a fine art wildlife, nature and landscape photographer living in Flagstaff, Arizona in the heart of the iconic American West. My passion is to create dynamic photographs that capture the joy we feel when light and a natural setting come together in perfect harmony.“
All photos are by Bill Ferris, an Arizona-based wildlife and nature photographer specializing in images of the Desert Southwest. Visit his gallery at billferris.photoshelter.com
Looking for the best day hiking in the Grand Canyon? Let Grand Canyon hiking expert Dennis Foster be your guide.
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