Lonely Planet Writer

Stunning time-lapse footage shows Grand Canyon cloaked in rare, rolling clouds

A stunning new time-lapse video has been captured at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona featuring a full cloud inversion, an extremely rare weather occurrence that shows the iconic, giant valley being completely shrouded in a blanket of fog.

A full cloud inversion at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
A full cloud inversion at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. Image by Harun Mehmedinovic/Skyglow Project

Occurring when cold air becomes trapped and topped by a layer of warm air, a full cloud inversion is a result of the interplay between moisture and condensation, and resembles thick, rolling ocean waves. Usually taking place in late autumn and early winter, the phenomenon is sometimes followed by a huge snowstorm, which can also be seen in the footage. The film was produced by Harun Mehmedinović of Skyglow, an ongoing multi-media project that aims to highlight the very best night skies in North America while raising awareness of the increased impact that light pollution has on the natural environment.

Called Kaibab Requiem, the piece was created as a follow up to Kaibab Elegy, a video that garnered over one million views on Vimeo and over four million on social media. Capturing the phenomenon proved challenging, due to the rarity of the occurrence and the harsh weather conditions. “Cloud inversions in the Grand Canyon happen for a few days every year, but full cloud inversions happen maybe one day every two to three years. You truly have to be lucky to be there at the right time. Being there felt like walking on clouds. Capturing it was partly the luck of being at the right time, right place, but the challenges of shooting in very cold conditions are obvious. Malfunctioning cameras, freezing lithium batteries, and the potential of lenses cracking as they expand and contract in those temperatures,” Harun told Lonely Planet Travel News.

The rare phenomenon occurs when cold air becomes trapped and topped by a layer of warm air.
The rare phenomenon occurs when cold air becomes trapped and topped by a layer of warm air. Image by Harun Mehmedinovic/Skyglow Project

Welcoming millions of visitors every year, Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the United States, as well as being one of the seven natural wonders of the world. As such an iconic location, recognisable to people all over the world, it proved to be an inspiring choice for Skyglow to help spread their message about light levels.

Harun said that the harsh weather conditions made the shoot extremely challenging.
Harun said that the harsh weather conditions made the shoot extremely challenging. Image by Harun Mehmedinovic/Skyglow Project

“I’m pleased that people are talking about issues of light pollution way more now and many are taking initiative to change the wasted light and energy in their local communities. We are collaborating with the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) on this issue and they have been successful at helping hundreds of communities and parks start instituting lighting ordinances. Recently, Grand Canyon was awarded status of a Dark-Sky park by IDA,” Harun said.

More information on the Skyglow project is available at the official website.