The Grand Circle Tour – Day Ten – Sunrise Over the Grand Canyon

I awoke at 4:30 a.m. to the sound of an alarm beeping.  Unfortunately, it was not my alarm.  It was an alarm belonging to one of my neighbors coming through the thin walls of the Mesquite Building at the Maswik Lodge.  It was still dark outside, so I decided to make the best of it and head to the edge of the canyon to catch the sunrise.  After a quick cup of coffee and a short wait for signs of first light, I headed toward the South Rim Trail.

I realized quickly that I was late to the party.  The trail was already dotted with visitors armed with cameras and smartphones – all were poised to capture the prize-winning photo.  Some were aiming their cameras in the direction of the sun, while others pointed in the opposite direction, waiting patiently for the sunlight to illuminate the east-facing canyon walls.

From one vantage point in front of the Hopi House, I noticed the sun’s rays peaking through a large tree, creating a beautiful silhouette.


Look closely and you can see that I was not the only person up early to capture the sunrise.

To watch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon is truly something special.  I was humbled at the beauty before me that was on such a grand scale.  After all, this was the Grand Canyon.  As the sun rose, it crested rock formations to the east and began to bathe the canyon walls back to the west with warm rays of sunlight.  (This was the “Golden Hour” that photographers often reference.)

The light worked its way down gradually from top to bottom, eventually illuminating the canyon floor below.  The chatter from the visitors subsided as they stood in a trance-like state, watching the magnificent panorama before them.



Mule deer enjoying the sunrise.

After a long while taking in the views before me, I grabbed a warm raspberry pastry and a coffee from the snack bar adjoining the Bright Angel Lodge.  I then found the perfect spot to enjoy my morning meal.  I sat on the edge of the canyon on a makeshift rock chair, with my feet dangling over the vast canyon below.  As I ate, I was joined by curious (and hungry) squirrels and chipmunks who were anxious to join me for breakfast.  What a glorious start to the day!

Breakfast with a view!



As I headed back to the lodge, I passed a pen where the mules were being readied for the trip down to the bottom of the canyon.  I spoke to one of the mule handlers and he said that it would be a ten hour trip – five hours down and a five hours up.  Stefan had inquired about doing the trip, but it was fully booked during our stay.


I stopped to talk to this guy, who was a visitor about to embark on the mule ride to the bottom of the canyon.  He was decked out with a cool, patriotic cowboy hat, complete with a GoPro, ready for action.


Sunrise Day Two

Dawne and I did a repeat of the sunrise routine on the next day.  The sunrise was very beautiful, but it was also very different.  On the second day, there were many more clouds in the sky, that resulted in beautiful colors as the sun rose and its rays were refracted by the clouds.


Silhouette of the El Tovar Hotel.




1GC Breakfast
Breakfast with a view on the second day.


3 thoughts on “The Grand Circle Tour – Day Ten – Sunrise Over the Grand Canyon”

  1. Considering the fact that the Grand Canyon is 1 mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 277 river miles long, the “Golden Hour” on a clear day as well as on a cloudy day must be beyond spectacular! Your photos of the two different early morning sunrises certainly capture the magnificence of that so called “Golden Hour “. Even I would be tempted to accompany the chipmunks, squirrels and mule deer to enjoy this breathtaking sight .
    Well done, Rich!!

    Liked by 1 person

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