Winter Light at the Grand Canyon

January 6, 2022  |  Grand Canyon National Park

It's my personal opinion that one of the most memorable times to see and experience the Grand Canyon is during the winter. The sun is lower in the sky, and the golden light lasts long. There are fewer visitors, and if you're up for taking some short walks, it's possible to feel like you almost have the park to yourself.

Things get magical after a winter storm. The texture of fresh snow reveals every detail that may otherwise be easily missed. As the storm clears from the canyon, clouds often hang onto the temples and buttes below the rim. Just as you think that the show is over, the canyon begins to fill with clouds again, and the view vanishes. But, if you're patient, the view will return, and when it does, it's almost as if Mother Nature herself has pulled the curtains back to reveal her most incredible creation.

One of my favorite times to photograph the Grand Canyon is when a storm begins to clear. In these moments, when the visibility...

Sunlight in a Clearing Storm

One of my favorite times to photograph the Grand Canyon is when a storm begins to clear. In these moments, when the visibility is obscured by clouds and rain, the hard edges of the canyon are softened. The sun finds a gap in the clouds and the light scatters through the atmosphere, creating a three-dimensional painting for just a brief moment.

Snow covered trees below the rim of the Grand Canyon. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim of the park.

Winter Layers

Snow covered trees below the rim of the Grand Canyon. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim of the park.

Located between Yaki Point and Skeleton Point, this butte with an elevation of 6,071 feet is named for William "Buckey" O'Neill...

Buckey's Butte

Located between Yaki Point and Skeleton Point, this butte with an elevation of 6,071 feet is named for William "Buckey" O'Neill (1860-1898) newspaper editor, miner, politician, gambler, lawyer, and Yavapai County sheriff. O'Neill later became a captain in Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and died in the Battle of San Juan Hill.

A piñon pine tree perched on the snowy rim of the Grand Canyon.

Piñon Pine

A piñon pine tree perched on the snowy rim of the Grand Canyon.

Dawn breaks over the Grand Canyon, and the cliffs are awash with the soft glow of warm morning light contrasting with the snow...

Winter Dawn at the Canyon

Dawn breaks over the Grand Canyon, and the cliffs are awash with the soft glow of warm morning light contrasting with the snow that had recently fallen. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim of the park.

A panoramic view of the Grand Canyon as a winter storm begins to clear. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim.

Warm Light After A Winter Storm

A panoramic view of the Grand Canyon as a winter storm begins to clear. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim.

A dusting of snow has frosted the peak of Isis Temple and the distant North Rim. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim of Grand...

Isis Temple in the Winter

A dusting of snow has frosted the peak of Isis Temple and the distant North Rim. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Clouds drift across Brahma Temple and Zoroaster Temple as a winter storm clears revealing fresh snow on the North Rim of the...

Winter Light on Brahma and Zoroaster

Clouds drift across Brahma Temple and Zoroaster Temple as a winter storm clears revealing fresh snow on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. From Yavapai Point on the South Rim.

A winter storm closes in upon the Grand Canyon. Clouds begin to form within the depths of the canyon as snow falls on the distant...

Winter Apparition over the Canyon

A winter storm closes in upon the Grand Canyon. Clouds begin to form within the depths of the canyon as snow falls on the distant North Rim. This moment in time reminded me of a Thomas Moran painting with its wonderful sense of atmosphere and dreamy light. © Adam Schallau, All Rights Reserved.

The photographs in this portfolio were made using the Fujifilm GFX 50R medium format camera and are capable of being made into very large fine art prints.