Saturday, April 30, 2011

Grand Canyon Sunset ~ South Rim ~ Yaki Point ~ Arizona

We entered the Grand Canyon National Park for our sunset experience from Tusayan, AZ where we were staying in the RV park. The Grand Canyon Camper Village is only a couple of miles from the park entrance. We’ve purchased a pass for the park, at a cost of $25 and that will allow us to enter the park any number of times for a week.

The South Entrance Road to the Grand Canyon
We then drive for a few more miles that will take us to the first large parking lot at the Visitor Center and then catch the free shuttle bus that will take us out to Yaki Point, which we’ve heard is one of the best to view a sunset from.  This point is only accessible when you use the shuttle, so this is our first visit to this point, and a great one it is. 

The rugged formations of the Grand Canyon, AZ
Many people gather here, most with the intention of watching the sun set.  The shuttle bus runs frequently so there are more people coming all the time but many leave to return to other locations as well, undoubtedly for a beautiful sunset, as well.  I don’t think there could be a bad sunset in the Grand Canyon !

Enjoying the setting sun over the Grand Canyon at Yaki Point
We are looking towards Cape Royal from here.  The evening light gives it a very hazy appearance and this would be the result of smog.  Daily tests are done to test and monitor the haze as part of a national research program.  The average winter visual range is 210 km (130 mi).

The golden color highlights the Inner Gorge in Grand Canyon
The Colorado River isn’t visible from this vantage point but it is flowing through the Inner Gorge that we can see from here, the canyon the river has taken thousands of years to create.  I was able to get some pictures of the river on our visit to Desert View at the eastern entrance to the park.

The sunset shadows add interest to the Grand Canyon
Our visit is at the South Rim, which is open all year but there is also the North Rim on the other side of the Canyon.  The rims are only about 10 miles apart ‘as the crow flies’ to use an old expression, but is 356 km (215 mi) by road.  We didn’t visit the North Rim, it doesn’t open until May 15.

The layers of orange begin to appear in the darkened gorge
The free park newspaper, The Guide is available at many locations and has a lot of information about locations, activities and all things going on in the park.  They even have the exact time of the sunrise and sunset for current dates and where the best places for viewing those are.

Dusk is coming quickly and sunset will soon be done
As the sun disappears, the evening quickly gets cooler.  We are visiting in April and the average temperatures range from 15C (60F) down to 0C (32F).  Our days are sunny so we can feel the heat and it isn’t cold but we did have frost warnings for overnite.

The final colors quickly fade from Yaki Point viewpoint
We are looking at the Tonto Platform and as the sun sets lower in the sky, the color of the formations gets deeper and deeper until it almost glows in the distance. What beautiful colors we see.

The last moments of the Grand Canyon setting sun
I caught the last of the setting sun just as it was about to disappear from view after leaving us with the incredible experience of seeing a sunset in the Grand Canyon.  I will always have my photos to remind me of those beautiful moments, but it shall forever remain etched in my mind.


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