Sunrise at Grand Canyon: Trial & Tips

Visiting the Grand Canyon? Here are some tips to catch the sunrise at this magical place.

This is an old post from one of my other blogs. It is something I thought might be useful to someone as we approach the end of summer. Still have time to make the trek down to the Grand Canyon. If not, here’s some food-for-thought as you plan your next trip out there.  


So, having woken up extra early only to be disappointment by cloud-covered sunrise at Grand Canyon, I wanted to share my experiences and the culmination of research in the hopes that you will have a more successful sunrise experience.



Timing is everything. Look up the sunrise time for the day that you want to visit. Plan to arrive at least 30-45 minutes early in the off-season. During the summer, plan to get there at least an hour early to secure a decent viewing spot (see “location” below). This is important because you want to get there when it is dark to fully experience the sunrise and color change of the canyon. Also, if you want to try and predict which mornings will be cloudy (somehow), plan to go on a clear morning. Ideally, you would have more than one morning to try and catch the sunrise, so you may have to make a few early mornings, but I have heard that it is worth it!


There are many recommended spots to catch the sunrise. The two spots I would personally recommend are: Mather Point (next to the Visitor’s Center) and Desert View Watchtower (at the eastern end of the South Rim). Again, getting there early is important. Also, finding a spot that faces west is key. Why, you ask? The sun rises in the east, sure. But the real beauty of the sunrise is the color change of the canyon, which will occur towards the west. Ideally, you get both views, but if you have to pick, find a west-facing spot.

There are other spots along the South Rim that you can check out, but most of them require a bit of hiking to get to. If you want to check them out and let me know how they are, I would appreciate it!

Equipment (aka What to Bring)

It can get really cold in the early morning hours before the sun comes up – you have been warned. Bring along hat and gloves, a sturdy jacket and/or fleece blanket. I usually operate on the principle that it is better to be too prepared. Don’t forget your cameras and camcorders. I would also recommend bringing along a thermos with some hot cocoa (or coffee) to keep you warm while you wait.

Good luck sunrise-catching at the Grand Canyon.

Leave a comment on your experiences, tips and tricks and I will add to my list above. 

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