Suggestions - grand canyon Colorado river video photography late August
Replies: 5 - Last Post: Aug 22, 2012 8:49 AM Last Post By: fdbaz
Aug 21, 2012 3:26 PM
Suggestions - grand canyon Colorado river video photography late AugustHi, I am a graduate student studying documentary and multimedia storytelling. My husband was killed by a motorist while cycling a few years ago, and for my Masters thesis, I'm producing a documentary project exploring how cultural attitudes towards death shape life. I am traveling to the Grand Canyon via Las Vegas from August 23-August 28 2012. The subject of the primary video component of the project was a funny, generous, vivacious woman who spent her last months fighting cancer planning a "bucket list" trip to the Grand Canyon. She didn't make it. The canyon figures in the documentary both as the literal object of her hope and desire to live, as well as a symbol of the incomprehensible mystery of death that looms in all our lives.
Specifically, here's what I need help with:
1. Suggestions for best sunrise/sunset scenery.
2. I feel compelled to go to the North Rim, but most of the action seems to be at South Rim. What's the best way to experience the North Rim?
3. I'd really like to film the river, but am concerned about how to get there. I'm a healthy 35 year old female, but I don't have a lot of hiking experience. I feel like according to most of the posts, I'd be presumptuous to try to hike in, stay overnight, and hike out the next day. I've applied for a reservation at the Phantom Lodge, but feel like that will be pretty unlikely this spur of the moment.
So, is there anyway to get down to the river for a more inexperienced hiker? Mule? Helicopter? If I can't do it I just won't, but just am not sure what are my options.
Thank you for your help and insight.
Aug 21, 2012 3:38 PM
Aug 21, 2012 9:15 PM
2Check how ling the waiting lists are for the mule rides. Very long odds, but you might get lucky.
Aug 21, 2012 9:30 PM
3Welcome to Tree Tree.
I would recommend the South Rim. You are closer to the deepest part of the canyon. You have many horizon to horizon views there. The North Rim area is set back several miles up Bright Angel Creek. I'm sure others will dispute this.
You have time to visit both rims. Lodging may be an issue since you don't have much time to make reservations and the North Rim closes in the winter. There are limited opportunities for lodging on the North Rim and they are not close to the canyon.
Reservations for Phantom Ranch probably won't happen this year.
Yes there is! Have you considered a raft trip? You can spend as much as two weeks on the river. It is a completely marvelous experience. There are dozens of homemade videos on Youtube. Some of them are very good.
I have done this three times and want to do it again. Although my first trip was the luck of the draw, I really enjoyed it. The group consisted of only a dozen people (1 male guide, 2 female guides, 4 male tourists including myself, and 5 female tourists) the first week and 11 people the second week. Two of the male tourists hiked out at Bright Angel and one lady hiked down and joined the trip at bright angel. The ages ranged from the one guide who was in her early twenties to a gentleman in his eighties. The second trip was larger. It had 27 people including 4 teenagers. I took 4 of my teenaged nephews on a third trip. My point is that anyone can do this if they want to do it.
The minimum age for the motor raft trips is 6 years as I recall and the minimum age for oar and paddle rafts is around 12. You won't know in advance with whom you will be traveling. That is part of the fun.
The guides are simply superb. I can't say enough good things about them.
The trip itself is so far from most people's experiences that it is hard to describe. You have to like camping in a wilderness. Most of the people I traveled with got so comfortable with it that they dispensed with the tents and cots and simply slept on the ground. The food is far better than you may expect, (steaks grilled on charcoal, birthday cakes when there is a birthday, pizza, fresh baked cherry cobbler for deserts, mimosa and "cowboy coffee" for breakfast) the menu is different every day. You have to bring your own alcohol if you want it.
Overall, the experience is both primitive and comfortable at the same time. It is all set in one of the most incredible landscapes on the face of the Earth. The canyon from the inside is immense. Some of the stops, Redwall Cavern, Elves Chasm, Blacktail, and Deer Creek, are a few examples, are simply magical. There are daily hikes to different locations in the canyon. No two are similar to each other. Of course, there are the peaceful stretches of the river and the rapids. It's all good. Speaking of "bucket lists," There were ashes scattered on two of my three trips. In both cases, they were the remains of people who had always wanted to see the canyon but never did before their time was up.
You can still sign-up for a tour this year if you are by yourself. There are always empty seats, as people tend to travel in odd numbered groups. The 16 outfitters authorized to take passengers through the Grand Canyon are found
One caution. Don't take anything down the river that you couldn't stand to lose or break. The river loves cameras and beer. It will take those items as well as anything else it can. It can be sneaky about it. I've opened more than one beer can only to find it full of river water.
You won't ever forget the experience if you take a raft trip.
Aug 21, 2012 11:22 PM
4Not to give you a hard time or anything, but this trip is a significant part of the project and you haven't given it hardly a thought in terms of planning until two days before you leave? As my master's thesis adviser would have said, that is sub-optimal. End of lecture.
Anyway, you do have time for both rims, but you're really going to be limited by accommodation availability. Mule trips and river trips will pretty much be out of the question with two days notice. You might get lucky and find a room on the north rim through a last-minute cancellation, but otherwise, you're likely to be shut out there. You can check the Kaibab Lodge and the Jacob Lake lodge also, which are both outside the park. There are many more options on the south side.
Assuming you can work out accommodation, it would be worthwhile to spend a couple days at the south rim, and then loop around to the north rim taking the route past the Vermillion Cliffs (spectacular). You could even spend the night at a not-so-nearby lodge, like those at Marble Canyon or Cliff Dwellers, get up early and tour the North Rim until sunset, and then head to Kanab for the night. Not ideal, but with two days notice I'm not sure you'll do better. On the bright side, the drive is spectacular, it is well worth exploring the area around Marble Canyon and Lees Ferry a bit - this is the very start of the Grand Canyon, and there is lots of interesting scenery and history in the area.
I agree with everything Zeldasdad said about the river trip. Do it now or do it later, but do it.
PS - Helicopters cannot fly below the rim inside the National Park. If you see advertisements for helicopter trips to the river, that is not in the National Park, it is on an adjacent indian reservation. The river in that area is heavily modified by having been impounded behind Hoover Dam, and does not resemble the living Colorado River found further upstream in the park. Just an FYI
Aug 22, 2012 8:49 AM
5Lots of good advice above.
The classic sunset spot on South Rim is Hopi Point. Expect lots of company. Maricopa Point has a fairly similar easterly view, and (usually) a lot fewer people. Yaki Point is a somewhat less similar variant. Lipan Point has a different, but interesting sunset view. Pima Point also has possibilities.
North Rim has three major easily-accessible viewpoints (as well as several "minor" points, which tend to be variants/combinations, often interesting, of the major points). All three are very different - much more different from each other than any two South Rim viewpoints are from each other. zeldasdad described Bright Angel Point - the one right at the end of the entrance road, where the accommodations are located (incidentally, Grand Canyon Lodge has a few cabins right on the rim, with Canyon views, but your chance of getting any of them with much less than a year's notice are pretty much zero). 90% of North Rim visitors never get anywhere else. It has interesting sunset light, but looks across to an inner-Canyon "mountain range", rather than a view with the "vast chasm" effect. Probably the best North Rim viewpoint for sunset is Cape Royal, which has various sunset views in various directions, including one with the "vast chasm" effect (and is not "set back several miles up Bright Angel Creek"). It's good for sunrise as well. Point Imperial is quite different from the first two. I've seen some stunning sunrise and sunset pictures from there, but they were done by great photographers (mine have never been much good there - which is probably to say talent/experience plus the proper light are more important there than at the other two). Do be aware that late August is still the monsoon season. That's the time of the year when the best sunsets occur (if thunderstorms/clouds are properly positioned) and when the worst sunsets occur (if thunderstorms/clouds are poorly positioned, i.e., to cutoff direct sunlight for a hour or two before sunset). If you want pretty reliably good, but not great, sunsets, come in mid-June.
Unlike South Rim, North Rim is heavily forested by "southern Rockies / intermountain state" standards. Perhaps mainly for that reason, unlike South Rim, it has some excellent hikes that don't go into the Canyon. Probably the best for the first-timer is the Widforss Trail. It starts in a meadow, climbs to the Canyon rim, which it follows for a while (with excursions back into the forest), descends into a lovely shallow valley (flowery in the proper seasons), then follows a ridge out to a rather different Canyon view. It is good for both a short hike and a long hike. The first part is especially nice in morning cool with the Hermit Thrushes singing. A short morning trip into the Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail is another good idea. Coconino Overlook at about 3/4 mile, Base of the Coconino at about 1 1/4 mile, Supai Tunnel at about 1 3/4 mile, and Redwall Bridge at about 3 miles are all possible destinations / turnaround points. South Rim has two good-for-the-inexperienced-for-short-hikes trails into the Canyon, the more open/sunnier/hotter South Kaibab and the shadier (but VERY busy) Bright Angel.
Given how you describe yourself ... you need a training regimen, plus some adjustment to altitude and heat, before you attempt a Canyon hike down to anywhere near the River. Forget it for this visit. That doesn't mean you shouldn't take a short hike into the Canyon in the cool of the morning - you should. Just be out by 9-10AM.
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