One of the things you are often told to do if you go to the Grand Canyon is see the sunrise. We almost didn’t go ourselves because we were so tired after our day in the canyon, in fact we had decided not to worry about when we went back to our tent that night. Fortunately in October, when we were there, the sunrise was not so early as it is during other times of the year. I woke up checked my watch and realized we could still make it. The Grand Canyon app from Chimani that we were using on our trip listed multiple places you could see the sunrise, but we knew we would only have time to make it to Mather Point which was not far from our campground. We pulled on our sweatshirts, grabbed the photography equipment, and actually hopped in our car feeling pretty sure the parking lot would not be full early in the morning.
Mather Point is just about a two minute walk from the South Rim Visitors Center. There are multiple parking lots at the visitor center with lots of room. Signs tell you where to go and make sure that you don’t end up in the bus lane! (Not that that almost happened to us 😉 During the days these lots can get pretty full but early in the morning there was plenty of room when we arrived. From the parking lot you just walk towards the canyon, up behind the visitor center. Mather Point is on the Rim Trail and has multiple areas that jut out into the canyon making for and excellent view. For many people it is the first sight they have of the canyon (not us, ours was at the Desert View Watchtower).
What you will see:
When we arrived the whole place was lined with photographers waiting to catch the sunrise.
|Our camera next to the big pros|
It wasn’t as crowded as it might have been though and we could still find good places to watch and snap pictures ourselves. In mid-October the whether was crisp, but not too bad.
|View East from Mather Point|
We had some overcast, which made it hard to see the actual moment of the sunrise, but made for and awesome array of colors in the canyon that you don’t normally see. Mather Point has an excellent view down the East side of the canyon though so in clear weather it provides and great spot for seeing the sun and even in cloudy weather gets you an awesome view of the first light coming into this majestic place. Mather Point is also an accessible area of the canyon, so for strollers and wheelchairs it provides and excellent option for views anytime.
On clear days the sunrise is a very fast event, so it won’t take much of your time to witness it, you just have to be willing to be up early, more or less, depending on the time of year. On overcast days like when we were there it is a more gradual process of seeing the canyon light up, but it still only took us 15 or 20 minutes for the whole excursion.
What to bring:
Regardless of when you go to the park mornings are going to be cool to cold, so make sure you dress for the temperature, and that your kids do as well. Other than that not much is needed. Besides the best camera you have and a tripod if you want really good pictures. It’s not a long enough excursion to need to bring food, but since it is early if you have kids that need to eat right away in the morning you might bring some quick snacks and water. Since it is an accessible area most shoes will be fine here, you aren’t walking far.
Don’t forget your camera though! You will be sad if you do.
The sunrise at Mather Point is a beautiful experience, and one not worth missing just for sleep for yourself (traveling children may be another matter entirely). It is easy to get to and not overly crowded (which is not something you can say about it for sunset).