Photographing the Full Moon at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon

Full moon rise at Point Imperial with Mount Hayden in the foreground

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed for the winter, and usually is open from May 15 to October 15, weather permitting. Mary and I planned our Fall color trip to the North Rim the first week in October and it coincided with a full moon. We planned our sunrise and sunset shoots accordingly. Here is what we saw.

Moonrise from Point Imperial

The North Rim has three good lookouts that are easily accessible: Bright Angel Point, Point Imperial, and Cape Royal. Interestingly enough, they all point in somewhat of a different direction. I like Bright Angel for sunrise and sunset with good views southeast and southwest; Point Imperial is known as a sunrise location as the rising sun lights up the canyon in the morning looking south west; and Cape Royal is a good sunset location due to the alignment of Wotans Throne. Since the moon rises and sets in the opposite direction of the sun, we had to plan our shots opposite of what we usually do.

The moon rise at Point Imperial was spectacular as we were able to position the moon near Mount Hayden. If you go there for this particular shot, you will need to stand as far to the right as you can looking out from the parking lot, so you can shoot almost dead east down the canyon.

Moon set at Bright Angel Point

Bright Angel Point is my favorite on the North Rim because it is great for sunrise and sunset and because it’s just a 10 minute walk from the cabins we stay in. As the sun rises in the east, the moon sets in the west and because it was clear and cold, we had a wonderful belt of Venus with the moon right in the earth’s shadow and a cool pink alpenglow above it.

Moon set from the wedding site at Cape Royal

Cape Royal juts out into the canyon with spectacular views of the Thor Temple to the west, Wontans Throne to the South, and Cape Final to the east. Though this is not a sunrise location, it’s great for sunset and moonset. We were the only car in parking lot on this particular morning and had the place to ourselves. It started to get quite bright and contrasty, so we started shooting with our infrared cameras and processed the images into monochrome. Remember, when the light gets harsh, think black and white.

Moon set with Thor Temple in the foreground

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