Arizona Highways November 2022 Cover
I'm excited to share that one of my Grand Canyon photographs was selected for the cover of the November 2022 issue of Arizona Highways Magazine! The November issue celebrates Phantom Ranch which is turning 100 in November.
What is Phantom Ranch?
Phantom Ranch is a historic oasis at the bottom of the Grand Canyon along Bright Angel Creek, a short distance north of the Colorado River. Phantom Ranch holds the distinction of being the only lodging below the rim of the canyon and can only be reached by mule, on foot, or by rafting the Colorado River.
In the 1920s, the National Park Service (NPS) selected the Fred Harvey Company to establish a tourist camp within the canyon. They enlisted the American architect & designer Mary Jane Colter to draft the plans for the lodge. Colter went to work producing sketches for a series of cabins. When everyone was pleased, it was soon announced that the accommodations would be named Roosevelt's Chalets after President Theodore Roosevelt. Upon learning this, Colter snatched up her blueprints and declared, "Not if you are going to be using my work." The consummate perfectionist Colter had already chosen the name: Phantom Ranch.
The cabins and main lodge are built of wood and native stone, blending with the natural beauty of the setting in an architectural style known as National Park Service Rustic, or, as it's more affectionately known by NPS staff, 'Parkitecture.'
The Making of the Photograph
I made this photograph in March 2009 when I was the Artist-in-Residence at Grand Canyon National Park. The park service offered me the opportunity to stay at the Trail Crew Bunkhouse at Phantom Ranch for a few nights, which was an offer I couldn't refuse!
I had never been to Phantom Ranch and had no idea what to expect of the experience, and as such, I had no photographic goals in mind. My goal for this trip to the bottom of the canyon was to soak in all of the details of the experience and to make the most of my time. I hiked into Phantom Ranch from the South Rim via the South Kaibab Trail (7.4 miles), spend a few nights at Phantom Ranch, and then I hiked out to the South Rim via the Bright Angel Trail (9.9 miles).
I made the photograph that's on the cover of the magazine while walking the trail down to the Colorado River in search of a spot to photograph sunset from. I had noticed someone sitting in a chair in front of the cabin eating dinner, but I didn't want to be that person and spoil the moment by photographing them as they ate. I wandered a bit further and then backtracked and discovered that they had gone inside which is when I made the photo.
One of the things that surprised me the most about my time at Phantom Ranch is how truly dark the night sky is. If my memory serves, it was during my first evening there that the Space Shuttle and International Space Station passed overhead, high above the night sky. The Shuttle and ISS were in the process of docking, but it was possible to clearly make out both objects and with some binoculars you could even see the solar panels of the ISS. While waiting for them to pass overhead, I made this following photo of a tree against the starry night sky.
During my time at Phantom Ranch, I made several photos along the Colorado River at its confluence with Bright Angel Creek. I'm not sure why, but it was an area that I was drawn to. Perhaps it was the view upstream to the Black Bridge (also known as the Kaibab Trail Suspension Bridge) and the view downstream to the Silver Bridge.
In addition to exploring the area immediately around Phantom Ranch, I also took a day to make the 11 mile roundtrip hike to Ribbon Falls. This hike and the time I spent at the falls were definitely one of the highlights as my time as the Artist-in-Residence for the park. It was a beautiful day, and I had the falls to myself for several hours during which I ate lunch, made a couple of photos, and took in the majesty of being in such an incredibly beautiful place.
I'd like to offer my appreciation and a heartfelt thanks to the National Park Service rangers and staff, both on the rim and those at Phantom Ranch, who graciously shared their knowledge of the Grand Canyon with me. I'd also like to thank the staff at Arizona Highways Magazine for valuing the hard work that photographers routinely put into creating a photograph. And lastly, thanks again to everyone who supported me and my passion for photographing the Grand Canyon.