Grand Canyon National Park in the US state of Arizona was carved out by the mighty Colorado River, and close to 5 million visitors travel to this World Heritage Site each year to take in its unforgettable views and gorgeous hiking trails. Located in the northwest of Arizona, the Grand Canyon is just 80 miles north of Flagstaff and 280 miles from Las Vegas, NV.
The Grand Canyon is 18 miles wide and over 1 mile deep in places, with stunning rock formations and the Colorado River creating unforgettable views from overlooks around the canyon rim. You'll be spoiled for choice with fabulous photo spots on your trip.
The famous views of Grand Canyon National Park hardly need an introduction, and there are countless places where you can stop to enjoy a breathtaking glance across the canyon. We've put together some of our favorites to help you make the most of your trip, along with the best times to visit for some stunning road trip photography.
|1. Hopi Point/Powell Point||South Rim||Famous for its expansive panoramic views and vibrant sunsets, captures the majestic beauty of the Canyon|
|2. Lipan Point||South Rim||Offering distant views of the Colorado River, provides striking contrasts between the river and the rocky terrain|
|3. Yavapai Point||South Rim||A spot with an unobstructed 180-degree view of the Canyon, highlighting the vastness and depth of the terrain|
|4. Navajo Point||South Rim||The highest overlook on the South Rim, offers an all-encompassing view and adds an aerial perspective|
|5. Moran Point||South Rim||Known for its layers of different rock formations, allows to capture the rich geology of the Grand Canyon|
|6. Grandview Point||South Rim||As one of the most panoramic points in the park, Grandview Point provides a wide-angle view of the Canyon|
|7. Desert View Watchtower||South Rim||A man-made structure built in 1932, ideal for photos that juxtapose the stark architecture with the natural scenery|
|8. Mather Point||South Rim||Known for its breathtaking sunrise views, lets photographers capture the early morning light washing over the Canyon|
|9. Angels Window/Cape Royal||North Rim||With a natural arch that frames the Colorado River, this spot provides a unique perspective of the landscape|
|10. Widforss Trail/Point||North Rim||A tranquil forest trail offering a combination of Canyon views and forest landscapes, which makes it unique|
|11. Yaki Point||South Rim||Known for its dramatic sunrise and sunset views, allows photographers to capture the changing colors of the Canyon|
|12. Pima Point||South Rim||Offers one of the most expansive views of the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River, great for panoramic photos|
|13. Plateau Point||South Rim||Located in the inner canyon, this spot offers unique, up-close views of the beautiful and scenic Colorado River|
|14. Ooh Aah Point||South Rim||This point along the South Kaibab Trail offers photographers a panoramic vista of the canyon's east and west sides|
|15. Havasu Falls||Havasupai Reservation||Renowned for its turquoise water contrasting the reddish canyon walls, provides a vibrant, color-rich scene|
|16. Point Imperial||North Rim||The North Rim's highest viewpoint, provides expansive views of the Painted Desert and the eastern end of the Canyon|
|17. Vista Encantada||North Rim||This spot offers a sense of the Colorado River's shaping force on the Canyon, adding a story element to your photos|
|18. Bright Angel Trail/Point||North Rim||A trail that offers changing views of the Canyon as you descend, providing a dynamic perspective on the landscape|
|19. Walhalla Overlook||North Rim||Provides views of the Colorado River's Unkar Delta, offering the chance to capture the ancient Puebloan site|
|20. Mohave Point||South Rim||Known for its spectacular sunsets, this spot offers the ability to capture the interplay of light and shadow|
|21. Bonus: Horseshoe Bend||Glen Canyon||Famous for its unique U-shaped bend in the Colorado River framed by steep cliff walls, offers an iconic shot|
Please see the map below to see where our photo spots fall along the Grand Canyon:
1. Hopi Point/Powell Point
What makes this photo spot special: The walk from Hopi Point to Powell Point is just a 10-minute walk, covering 0.3 miles. The stunning views here are in easy reach - great if you're short on time or want to fit in every possible photo opportunity on your trip.
How to get there: Both Hopi Point and Powell Point are off Hermit Road. From 1st March to 30th November, you can only access this road by shuttle bus - take the Red Route to get here.
If you visit outside shuttle operating times, approach via Grand Canyon National Park's South Entrance then turn left onto Center Road after around 3 miles. Continue for 1.6 miles and take a right turn onto Village Loop Drive and follow until you see the right turn for Hermit Road. After 2 miles, you'll see signposts for the right turn to Hopi Point.
Best time to visit: Hopi Point is famous for its panoramic sunset photo opportunities.
If you'd rather visit on your own schedule and avoid taking the shuttle bus, travel between December and February.
Where to park: While there are no parking bays on the paved loop that takes you close to this photo spot, you can briefly pull over.
If you're visiting between March and November then you won't need to worry about parking since you'll be catching the shuttle from the South Rim Grand Canyon Visitor Center, where there's plenty of parking.
2. Lipan Point
What makes this photo spot special: Lipan Point is the starting point for the stunning Tanner Trail. It's also considered to offer up one of the most expansive views of the canyon.
How to get there: From the East Entrance, drive 2 miles then turn right onto Lipan Point Road. Follow the road for half a mile to reach Lipan Point Parking Lot at the end of the road.
Best time to visit: This is a popular place to watch the sunrise or sunset. People also come here at night for stargazing. However, you'll have to arrive early to guarantee a parking spot at sunset.
Where to park: The parking lot is right by the viewpoint. There are only 20 parking spaces on the lot though, so it does fill up at peak times.
3. Yavapai Point
What makes this photo spot special: As well as the unforgettable canyon view that you can enjoy from Yavapai Point, it's also right next to the Yavapai Geology Museum.
That means that once you've finished taking your photos and admiring the stunning landscape, you can call in to get a fantastic overview of the natural factors that make the Grand Canyon so special.
How to get there: After entering from the South Rim take a left turn onto Center Road after just under 3 miles. Then, take the first right onto Market Plaza Road and the next left onto Zuni Way. Once you've joined S Entrance Road, it's just under 1 mile before you turn onto Yavapai Viewpoint Road.
Best time to visit: You can get a great picture here at any time of year, but one thing that makes Yavapai Point stand out is that the museum has a panoramic window where you can enjoy the view. That means that if you're visiting in winter, you can keep warm while enjoying the picture postcard views.
Where to park: The Yavapai Geology Museum Parking Lot has ample space. You'll find it at the end of Yavapai Viewpoint Road.
4. Navajo Point
What makes this photo spot special: Navajo Point is the highest elevation viewpoint on the South Rim, soaring up to 7,461 feet, which means you will be able to take a panoramic photo of the Grand Canyon from here.
How to get there: Enter the national park at the East Entrance Station then continue for the first mile of the scenic Desert View Drive. Take the right turn when you see the ‘Navajo Point' signpost, then keep right for the parking lot.
Best time to visit: Desert View Drive is open year-round, and the short drive from the East Entrance Station is usually accessible throughout the winter (weather dependent).
Whatever time of year you visit, Navajo Point is a popular place to watch the sunset.
Where to park: There's parking at Navajo Point, which includes 5 spots for larger vehicles such as RVs.
5. Moran Point
What makes this photo spot special: Named after the landscape painter Thomas Moran, this photo spot offers great views of the Colorado Butte and the Red Canyon rock formations. When there's no wind, you can even hear the Colorado River echoing below.
How to get there: Enter at the East Entrance Station and continue on Desert View Drive for 7 miles. You'll pass Navajo Viewpoint, Lipan Point, and other fantastic viewpoints along the way. A few minutes after passing Tusayan Museum and Ruins, take a right onto Moran Point Road.
Best time to visit: Landscape artists enjoy this viewpoint, which is accessible all year round, because of the shadows and light that change throughout the day. Stay a while, if you can, to watch the way the landscape changes.
Where to park: There's a parking lot at the end of Moran Point Road.
6. Grandview Point
What makes this photo spot special: Grandview Point is a popular spot as it has many amenities such as toilets and wheelchair access. As well as a great view across the Grand Canyon, it's famous as the trailhead for the epic but treacherous Grandview Trail.
How to get there: Enter at the South Entrance and continue towards the canyon on South Entrance Road for 4 miles. Take a right when you reach Desert View Drive, then after just under 9 miles turn left and follow signposts for Grandview Point.
You can also reach Grandview Point from the East Entrance. Simply continue west along Desert View Drive as you travel in the direction of Grand Canyon Village.
Best time to visit: Grandview Point is a popular spot in summer because of the trailhead. If you're just planning on taking photos, sunrise is a great time to see this stunning view.
Where to park: There's parking at the end of the road but remember this is a popular spot and parking is limited.
7. Desert View Watchtower and Desert View Point
What makes this photo spot special: Close to the East Entrance, Desert View Point is often the first glimpse visitors get of the Grand Canyon. It's also the site of the Watchtower, a historic structure built in 1932 where you can get an elevated view from the national park's most easterly viewpoint.
How to get there: Enter Grand Canyon National Park at the East Entrance then after a short 0.3-mile drive, take a right to reach the parking lot.
Best time to visit: The national park's East Entrance is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can stop to see the view at whatever time you arrive at Desert View Point. At sunset, the tower itself makes for an interesting feature in your photos.
Desert View Visitor Center is open from 9am to 5pm, while the Watchtower's View Room is open 8am - 7pm in peak season (check for times if you're visiting in the quieter months).
Where to park: There's ample parking here alongside other amenities such as a deli and gas station, so you can stock up here before heading on to other Grand Canyon viewpoints.
8. Mather Point
What makes this photo spot special: This popular spot near the Grand Canyon Visitor Center and main parking lots is often the first look of the canyon for guests arriving via the South Entrance and Grand Canyon Village.
How to get there: From the South Entrance, continue on South Entrance Road for around 5 miles. Then simply take a right turn into the South Rim Visitor Center parking lots.
Best time to visit: Because this is a popular spot, you'll might struggle to avoid the crowds if you visit in the peak summer season. You can still enjoy the view, but you'll have to work a little harder to set up the perfect, uninterrupted photos you probably have in mind.
In spite of that, sunrise and sunset are popular times to visit. As well as the gorgeous golden light, you'll be able to reach Mather Point quickly if you're staying in Tusayan.
Where to park: Mather Point is a short walk from the main South Rim parking lots.
9. Angels Window and Cape Royal
What makes this photo spot special: The natural arch at Angels Window has a walkway that will make you feel like you're floating above the canyon. You can also photograph the arch from a distance at The Viewpoint for Angels Window.
How to get there: After entering through the North Entrance Station, continue on AZ 67 until you reach Cape Royal Road. Take a left turn here and follow the road for 20 miles until you reach the Cape Royal Parking Area.
Best time to visit: Sunrise is a popular time to take photos at Angels Window, so that you can capture the strong colors which light up the landscape. The other advantage is that visiting at this time of day means you'll stay cool - although it's only a short hike, you'll still need to walk to Angels Window, so avoid the hot midday and afternoon in summer.
Note that Cape Royal Road is closed between October and May.
Where to park: There's a good amount of space at the Cape Royal Parking Area at the end of Cape Royal Road.
10. Widforss Trail and Widforss Point
What makes this photo spot special: It's a 9.6-mile round-trip hike to reach Widforss Point. Because it's a challenging point to reach through forested landscapes, you can expect a tranquil viewpoint without the crowds.
How to get there: Enter Grand Canyon National Park at the North Entrance Station then drive on AZ-67 for around 10 miles. Turn right onto the gravel road for Point Sublime Trail.
Best time to visit: The average hiking time is 4 to 6 hours. It's best to set out early in the morning so that you won't spend too much time hiking through the hottest part of the day - it's recommended to avoid hiking between 10am and 4pmin summer. This also means you won't be hiking back in the dark.
Roads and parking areas are closed during winter, so you won't be able to reach Widforss Trail at this time of year.
Where to park: Parking is available at the trailhead. However, it's a gravel parking area reached by a dirt road.
11. Yaki Point
What makes this photo spot special: Yaki Point is the only viewpoint along Desert View Drive that you cannot access with your car. Such restrictions make it a serene spot great for photographers.
How to get there: You cannot drive to Yaki Point. Instead, follow South Entrance Road for around 5 miles and leave your vehicle at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Parking.
Here, jump on the free orange shuttle, which runs from the Visitor Center towards Kaibab and Rim Route.
Best time to visit: Come at sunset, when the fading light reveals the deep canyon colors.
Where to park: There's no parking at Yaki Point itself, since private vehicles aren't permitted to come this far. Instead, park at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
12. Pima Point
What makes this photo spot special: Renowned as a leading place to look down towards the Colorado River below, on a quiet day you can even hear the river echoing through the canyon.
How to get there: From the South Entrance, drive for around 3 miles, then turn left onto Center Road. From the Grand Canyon Village Parking Lot, turn left onto Village Loop Drive and follow Maswik Laundry Road.
Next, turn left onto Rowe Well Road, which you'll follow for a mile before taking right turn onto 6A Road then a left turn onto Hermit Road. Finally, veer right onto Pima Point Overlook Road.
Best time to visit: Sunrise and sunset are popular times to visit Pima Point.
You can only reach Pima Point by car in December and February. At other times of year you'll have to catch the red shuttle route.
Where to park: Pima Point Parking Lot is on a paved loop where you can park.
13. Plateau Point
What makes this photo spot special: Plateau Point lets you see the Grand Canyon from a different angle, since you'll descend 3,195 feet into the canyon by the time you reach the viewpoint.
You'll have to take a 12-mile round-trip hike along the Bright Angel Trail to reach Plateau Point. Once you're there, you'll have a lower vantage point, albeit still 1,300 feet above the Colorado River.
How to get there: To access Plateau Point you'll need to hike the Bright Angel Trail. From the South Entrance drive just under 3 miles and take a left turn on Center Road. Join Village Loop Drive by taking a right and follow the road until reaching Grand Canyon Village. This is the closest parking to the trailhead.
Best time to visit: You can camp along the trail at Havasupai Gardens Campground. This'll help you get an early start and reach the point to photograph at sunrise.
This route is only recommended for fall, winter or spring. The humidity makes the hike too dangerous in summer.
Where to park: The closest parking to the Bright Angel Trailhead is at Grand Canyon Village.
14. Ooh Aah Point
What makes this photo spot special: To reach Ooh Aah Point, you'll have to hike the South Kaibab trail. It's a moderate-difficulty trail covering 1.8 miles round trip, but you should probably avoid this trek if you're scared of heights.
Once you reach Ooh Aah Point you'll be rewarded with fabulous views to the east and west.
How to get there: From the South Entrance Station, drive for 5 miles and head to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center Parking. We'd recommend taking the Orange Loop Shuttle Bus to the South Kaibab Trailhead, since parking is limited nearby.
Best time to visit: This is a popular sunrise hike, and arriving before 7am means you'll have a better chance of avoiding other visitors getting in the way of your photos. Even this early in the day the trail can get busy.
Bring a head torch if you can so that you can see your way in the dark. While the trail is open year-round, we don't recommend attempting the hike if there's ice or snow on the ground as this makes it a much more dangerous route.
Where to park: You can't park easily nearby, so use the Orange Loop Shuttle from the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
15. Havasu Falls
What makes this photo spot special: Located n the Havasupai Indian Reservation, Havasu Falls is a remote place to snap pictures of turquoise pools below the cascading waterfalls. It's not a part of Grand Canyon National Park, but it's still a stunning nearby photo opportunity.
How to get there: Accessing Havasu Falls is very difficult. You'll need a permit and a reservation for the lodge or campground beforehand.
To check in for a permit, you'll first need to head to Grand Canyon Caverns Inn, on Old Route 66. You'll find the Inn 37 miles from Seligman, AZ.
The trailhead is at Hualapai Hilltop, a further 63 miles north. Come prepared since it's a very strenuous hike from Hualapai Hilltop to the stunning waterfalls.
Best time to visit: The falls are quietest after 6pm, but allow plenty of time to get back to your vehicle.
After winter storms and flooding, mud often turns the falls brown, so you photos could look quite different at this time of year.
Where to park: You can leave your car at Hualapai Hilltop before setting out along the trail
16. Point Imperial
What makes this photo spot special: Point Imperial is the highest overlook on the North Rim, at 8,803 feet in elevation. From here, you can photograph the point where the Grand Canyon narrows into the narrower Marble Canyon.
How to get there: After passing the North Entrance, drive 10 miles on AZ-67 then take a left at Fuller Canyon for Cape Royal Road. Bear left onto Point Imperial Road, which you'll follow until you reach the Point Imperial Parking Lot.
Best time to visit: Come in the early morning to avoid crowds. The sunrise itself won't be in line with the viewpoint, but it does create interesting light which is great for photographs.
Where to park: Use Point Imperial Parking Lot at the end of Point Imperial Road.
17. Vista Encantada
What makes this photo spot special: This is a beautiful and tranquil setting where your view will comprise Ponderosa pine trees set on the canyon rim.
How to get there: From the North Entrance drive 10 miles on AZ-67 and take a left turn onto Cape Royal Road. After 10 miles, take a left to Vista Encantada.
Best time to visit: Vista Encantada is a popular picnic spot, so avoid the middle of the day if you're hoping for a peaceful and uninterrupted view across the canyon.
If you're an early riser, head here first thing to see the sun rising over the canyon, which casts a beautiful light over the landscape.
Cape Royal Road is closed in winter so, as a general rule, you won't be able to access Vista Encantada between October and May.
Where to park: You can pull up just off Cape Royal Road, but parking is limited so be prepared to wait for a space.
18. Bright Angel Trail and Bright Angel Point
What makes this photo spot special: Bright Angel Point offers expansive views at the end of a short hike. Its accessibility and views make it the most popular viewpoint on the North Rim.
How to get there: Enter at the North Entrance Station then continue your drive all the way along AZ-67, around 13 miles. You'll eventually meet the North Rim Lodge and Visitor Center. Park here and follow the Bright Angel Point Trail to see the viewpoint, which is a 0.5-mile round trip.
Best time to visit: Bright Angel Point is a great spot to capture the layers of rock, which is achievable anytime during daylight. It gets particularly busy at sunset though, with many people visiting late in the day to watch the changing light and shadow on the rocks.
Bright Angel Point is usually only accessible between the 15th of May and the 15th of October.
Where to park: You can park nearby at the North Rim Lodge and Visitor Center, then it's just a short walk to the viewpoint.
19. Walhalla Overlook
What makes this photo spot special: As well as enjoying splendid views of the canyon at Walhalla Overlook, you can also look down to see the Unkar Delta and Colorado River far below. You can spot archaeological sites from this viewpoint too.
How to get there: Enter at the North Entrance Station and follow AZ-67 for 10 miles. Next, take the left turn onto Cape Royal Road and before reaching the end of the road, pull over for the Walhalla Overlook Parking.
Best time to visit: Unlike many of the other viewpoints, Walhalla Overlook faces southeast, so it's not a big sunset destination. Instead, head here through the day to enjoy the view.
In common with many other North Rim overlooks, Walhalla Overlook is inaccessible between October and May.
Where to park: Next to the overlook is Walhalla Overlook Parking.
20. Mohave Point
What makes this photo spot special: The westward view from Mohave Point captures the Colorado River and the Hermit Rapids below.
How to get there: To reach Mohave Point, enter via the South Entrance then turn left onto Center Road to reach Grand Canyon Village.
Between 1st March and 30th November, you can only access this viewpoint by shuttle, so leave your vehicle at Grand Canyon Village and take the Red Route Shuttle Bus to Hermits Rest.
If you're visiting in winter you can drive yourself to the viewpoint. From Village Loop Drive continue straight ahead onto Hermit Road and follow it until you reach Mohave Point.
Best time to visit: As a west-facing viewpoint, Mohave Point is famous as a sunset lookout.
Where to park: In peak visiting season, you'll have to take the shuttle. At other times, there's a parking lot where you simply pull over along Mohave Point Road.
Bonus: Horseshoe Bend
What makes this photo spot special: Technically located in Glen Canyon, but we possibly could not skip this stunning photo spot! Horseshoe Bend is an iconic photo opportunity where the Colorado River travels around a 270-degree horseshoe-shaped bend.
How to get there: The approach to Horseshoe Bend is different to the lookouts around the canyon rim. Starting out from Page, join Highway 89 South then after around 3 miles you'll see a signposted right turn. Parking for the overlook is on Page Parkway, from where it's a 1.5-mile round trip hike.
Best time to visit: Head to Horseshoe Bend at dawn for a more peaceful experience. As a bonus, you'll see sunrise paint a glowing backdrop across the canyon.
Come in early fall (September to October) and this highly popular lookout should be less crowded. That way you'll have more freedom to pick your photo spot.
Where to park: Parking for the overlook is just off Highway 89. However, when the parking lot is full, Page also runs a shuttle service. It's often needed during peak weekends and holidays.