Grand Canyon (1/3)

These are all photos taken Tuesday at the Grand Canyon (South Rim) using my smartphone camera.  I’ll post closeups taken with the digital camera at a later date.

These pictures were taken between 1000am and 1130am local time.  Colors change slightly throughout the day as the sun changes position and as I move to new vantage points.  It also depends on whether I am standing in shade or sun, and whether I am looking down into the canyon or shooting across it with sky included.

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This was my vehicular mode of transportation once I got to the Park (the Grand Canyon is a National Park).  The Park is incredibly well organized and they do a fantastic job of schleping people around with a minimal amount of aggravation.  Parking is very limited, and many of the viewpoints are only accessible by shuttle bus, so better to park and let them do the driving (and not worry about parking or pulling out in traffic).  Plus it reduces pollution.  The view from the North Rim was noticeably more hazy (no buses used up there).  Also, North Rim is higher and the viewer is looking more in to the sun than from the South Rim vantage points.

South Rim has 4 basic areas of exposure to the Canyon itself.  I parked the car in one of the lots adjacent to the main Visitor Center (after around noon they encourage people to park in a nearby town and take a free shuttle bus, the purple route, in, as the lots inside the Park fill up).  I took two bus routes (blue to red) to get as far west as they allow vehicles to travel.  I then started working my way back east towards the Visitor Center.  The red route services the viewing points at the extreme western area of the accessible part of the Park (which is only a fraction of the true southern rim of the Canyon).  The blue route traverses a large area which contains many of the lodges, restaurants, lecture and entertainment venues, administration buildings, medical, search and rescue, maintenance, etc.  East of the Visitor Center is the orange route.  And finally, there are about 25 miles of viewpoints which are accessible only with your own vehicle.  That takes you out to the East entrance, which is how I will go in tomorrow (and I’ll do the orange route viewpoints).

Today I used the Main entrance (from the south) and left via the East entrance.

The majority of the South Rim, the western portion between where I was today and Las Vegas, is only accessible by hiking (or off-road vehicles where allowed, and they don’t allow many!).  Also, commercial (tourist) helicopter traffic is no longer allowed over the Canyon (thank goodness!!!).  It was stopped in the late 80’s after too many accidents occurred.  There are still helicopter service providers (a dozen or so helis buzzed over as I was waiting at the entrance to get in) but they aren’t allowed to fly over or into the Canyon itself (or only at the areas far away from the South Rim viewpoints).  So it was very quiet and peaceful once at the actual viewpoints.

Enough talk!  Let’s get to the pictures….  I started taking Canyon pictures around 1030am local time.  You will notice that the colors get richer as the day progresses and the sun gets higher.

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