Pic of the Week 6/21/18
"Mighty Colorado River"
Location: Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Date taken: 6/21/16
It was two years ago today that I was making my way through the state of Arizona. I had just spent the night in a hotel in Gallup, NM some 20 miles from the NM/AZ border. The previous day was spent mostly in the car driving the nine hours to the western edge of New Mexico. Today would involve a lot of driving, but it was more of a scenic drive, which meant there would be much more photography. I was also setting out to photograph the largest subject I could think of--The Grand Canyon. I had never been to the Grand Canyon, but had always wanted to visit. Needless to say, I was pretty excited for the drive. I bounded out of bed, got my gear together and checked out of the hotel. It was around 5:00am so the sun wasn't expected to rise for another hour and a half. I climbed in my rental car and started off west on I-40 heading towards Arizona.
There were a few places I wanted to stop along the way. One, was at the request of my brother-in-law to stop at the Petrified Forest National Park. I pulled into the entrance to the park to find the gate closed and securely locked. A large brown sign was outside the fence stating the park didn't open until 7:00am. I didn't want to wait that long to see the forest so I decided to save the Petrified Forest for another day and continued west. Along the way something caught my eye. As I drove down the highway I kept seeing signs for "Meteor Crater, AZ" and after a long detour I reached the entrance to Meteor Crater. Again, I was outside the fence, but I was much closer to their opening time at 7:00am only 15 minutes away. I sat in my car parked at the gate waiting for them to open and around 6:55 the gates opened. I was the first one through the gate and into the visitor center. Meteor Crater was very impressive, but something like that is just difficult to photograph. Probably the only shot I would be happy with would be an aerial photo. Though, I still enjoyed the crater.
After meteor crater it was time to get back on schedule and to the Grand Canyon. Around late morning I reached the boundary of the Wutpaki National Forest and about 15 miles from Flagstaff, AZ. As I drove through the forest I saw signs to watch for "cougar crossing road". "What kind of country am I in?" I thought to myself. And when I reached Flagstaff I turned northwest on 180 heading for highway 64. I followed 64 to the outside of Grand Canyon Village on the south rim of the canyon. From time to time I could make out faint features of the canyon between the trees, but everything I saw after would exceed my wildest imagination. I entered into the park and made it to the first overlook Mather point. The view from this was just incredible. The Grand Canyon is whole other level of canyon. I had been to the second largest canyon in the US (Palo Duro Canyon), but nothing even comes close the Grand Canyon. I stood in awe taking in all the scenery around me marveling at the colorful rocks and depth of the canyon. Although I couldn't see the Colorado River from this perspective. I followed a short trail along the rim of the canyon drinking in the wonderful scenery and trying to accurately depict its splendor on camera. The sun was getting higher into the sky and the light started to become flat, but the intermittent clouds cast shadows on the rugged landscape making for more interesting light.
I traveled along 64 and the south rim stopping and photographing at each overlook and even doing a little exploring. It wasn't until I reached Lipan Point was I able to see the Colorado River. Way off in the distance I could see the sunlight reflect off the turquoise water to the west. Although I took some nice shots here, I was worried I wasn't going to get a good one of the river. It was afterall what created the massive canyon system before me. I left Lipan point and continued to Navajo Point. This was the view I was looking for! When I climbed out of the vehicle I could see the massive canyon walls down below me and cutting right through the heart of it all was the mighty Colorado River. I pulled out my 80-200mm telephoto lens to zoom in close to the river. I could just make out some of the rapids in the turbulent waters below. From up here everything looked pretty calm, but when zooming in to the landscape I could see the intense flowing of the river. It reminded me of a blood flowing through a vein, like an artery deep in the earth. I found a composition that worked wonderfully for a telephoto shot and I feel accurately depicts the scale and sheer force it took to form these canyons. I seriously considered staying here all the way through sunset, but I new I wanted to photograph sunset on the north rim which was 3 hours away. This image is still one of my favorite photos I've captured of the Grand Canyon and maybe someday soon I'll revisit and rediscover the grandeur of this majestic natural wonder.
Mighty Colorado River © Ben Jacobi