Bright Angel Point Lookout - North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park

Bright Angel Point – Grand Canyon National Park

Date of visit: Thursday November 12th, 2015

Attractions/Places of Interest:

Bright Angel Point is located on the North Rim and offers some of the best views of the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. It is also one of the best, if not the best location to watch sunrise or sunset due to the vast amount of beautiful tributary ravines you are able to see from the high elevation. Of course your mileage may vary as atmospheric and weather conditions will determine how nice of a photo you’re able to capture, but as far as perspective, I highly recommend Bright Angel Point.

Bright Angel Point Map, Grand Canyon National Park - North Rim
Bright Angel Point Map, Grand Canyon National Park

Since we already saw the South Rim and were blessed with an amazing view and sunrise there, seeing this angle of the Canyon was a bit repetitive, but that is not to say it is not worth visiting. It is unique in the terrain that surrounds it – you will witness a lot of plant life such as trees and shrubs as opposed to the drier South rim trails. If you only have enough time to choose either the North or South rim, I would advise sticking to the South as I believe the view was a bit better (once again though, this is only my opinion and that is not to say the North disappoints and I do not regret taking the time to see both parts of the rim).

The hike up to the point which sits at 8,148 feet of elevation, one of the highest points along the North rim (just shy of Point Imperial which reaches 8,803 ft and is officially the highest viewpoint), was a relatively easy one at less than half a mile from the visitor center over which the paved trail climbs 200 feet. The panoramic views Bright Angel Point offers are very worth it. During my visit in November parts of the trail were covered in ice. There were two short segments, about 20 feet each, which were covered in ice that still did not melt. With a slow and steady pace we crossed over with no slips or casualties. Use caution and common sense when hiking; it is recommended to call the rangers for more information the day before for information regarding weather conditions and road or trail closures.

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The Bright Angel Point trail is described in more detail on the official NPS website.

Once you witness the majestic views from Bright Angel Point, I recommend walking back up North to the historic Grand Canyon Lodge and following a portion of the Transept Trail which wraps around the lodge for some more photo opportunities, such as the shot where I used the brick window to frame the beautiful vista it looks over.

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Finally before heading back to the car we had the pleasure of exploring the complex of snow covered cabins behind the lodge. It gave the feeling of a mini ghost town since we were the only ones there – which can be a peaceful and pleasant feeling depending on your perception. I spotted some mule deer tracks in the snow, but no mule deer (white-tailed deer most common in North America do not inhabit the lands of the Grand Canyon, however mule deer do). This area is also home to coyotes, big horned sheep, and even buffalo. Buffalo are not native to the Grand Canyon and have actually been recognized as a problem to the species that have historically inhabited the national park; read more about them here. If you still have your camera out at this point – keep your telephoto lens on in case you see any wildlife!

Please keep in mind that it is federal law to maintain an adequate distance from any animals you may encounter – usually 50-100 feet. If your presence causes the animal to move – you are too close! Also under no circumstances should you attempt to feed, touch, or interact with any wildlife.

Photo and Travel Gear:

For these photos I used my Nikon D600 and Nikon 24-70 f/2.8. My Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 (a DX lens I use in crop mode on an FX camera) also came in useful and I saw some great compositions I could have captured with my Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 telephoto, which I did not bring unfortunately. Since this is such a short hike I do recommend bringing an assortment of lenses if you have them, as pretty much every focal length could work here. If you have to choose though, the wider the better. Since I was shooting Bright Angel Point during sunrise, I had my setup mounted on my Sirui T-1205X and Induro BHD2 ballhead which is a fantastic lightweight, yet extremely sturdy carbon fiber tripod.

I recommend keeping your camera in your pack on the way up for safety and comfort as there weren’t many significant photo opportunities on the way up (the views are spectacular, but nothing that beats what is offered by the final destination).