Monsoon Season at the Grand Canyon - 2021

December 4, 2021  |  Grand Canyon National Park

After two years in a row of experiencing very dry monsoons, also known as a "nonsoon" in which there was little to no storm activity, we finally had a decent season this year in northern Arizona.

I made several trips to both the South Rim and North Rim of the Grand Canyon to lead photography workshops and personal trips to create new photographs for my portfolio.

My last trip to the canyon was especially fruitful as I arrived to the North Rim the day before a very wet weather system was due to begin weakening. I made new photos from some of my favorite locations, such as Point Imperial and Cape Royal, but I also worked from several unnamed vistas that were new to me, and I'm eager to share them in upcoming workshops in 2022.

In past years I spent a great deal of time chasing storms in the hopes of photographing lightning, but this year I had new photographic goals in mind. My primary goal was to photograph scenes with clouds below the rim. I was rewarded with an excellent opportunity to create a massive panoramic image of Mount Hayden from Point Imperial. In this photograph, which I've included below, clouds formed deep within the abyss and then rose along the canyon walls, leaving the ridges, peaks, and buttes floating in a sea of clouds.

Low-hanging clouds drift amongst the temples and castles below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Castle in the Clouds

Low-hanging clouds drift amongst the temples and castles below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

Rain falling into the Grand Canyon from a monsoon storm is backlit by the warm light of the rising sun. After years of drought...

The Gift of Rain

Rain falling into the Grand Canyon from a monsoon storm is backlit by the warm light of the rising sun. After years of drought, which weak monsoons have amplified, the strong showers were a welcome gift. Even as I struggled to wipe away the raindrops accumulating on my camera and lens, I found myself giving thanks and taking a moment to enjoy the experience.

From the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

I made this photo from an unnamed perch high on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon after it had rained the night before, leaving...

Monsoon Rising

I made this photo from an unnamed perch high on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon after it had rained the night before, leaving the atmosphere cold and damp with monsoon moisture. As the sun rose in the eastern sky, the temperature in the canyon's depths was rapidly warming, and clouds began to build within the canyon. A gentle breeze lifted the clouds along the canyon walls where they swirled amongst the crags.

Clouds are ripped apart in the turbulent air within the ragged landscape of the Grand Canyon. Photographed from the North Rim...

Chaos in the Chasm

Clouds are ripped apart in the turbulent air within the ragged landscape of the Grand Canyon. Photographed from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park during the monsoon season.

Clouds drift amongst the cliffs of the North Rim and Freya Castle as early morning light bathes the canyon walls in warm hues...

Wandering Clouds

Clouds drift amongst the cliffs of the North Rim and Freya Castle as early morning light bathes the canyon walls in warm hues. From an unnamed overlook on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

I was hiking along the Ken Patrick Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking for intimate scenes to photograph as the...

Winds of Change

I was hiking along the Ken Patrick Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking for intimate scenes to photograph as the view into the canyon had been obscured by clouds. As I was hiking the trail, a gentle breeze started to whisper through the trees, the leaves on the aspens behind me rustled, and the Douglas firs began to sway. My past experiences had taught me that it would be only minutes before the clouds would begin to part. The challenge was to make the photograph before the canyon cleared out completely.

A break in the weather allows for a brief view of Hancock Butte and Brady Peak. Within a few seconds the clouds had closed in...

Passing Ships

A break in the weather allows for a brief view of Hancock Butte and Brady Peak. Within a few seconds the clouds had closed in again and the scene was gone. From the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Rain falling into the Grand Canyon is backlit by the setting sun. Photographed from Desert View on the South Rim of Grand Canyon...

Desert View Finale

Rain falling into the Grand Canyon is backlit by the setting sun. Photographed from Desert View on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Rain falls upon the temples and buttes of the Grand Canyon as the sun is setting, creating a firey display of color and light...

Rain of Fire Approaching

Rain falls upon the temples and buttes of the Grand Canyon as the sun is setting, creating a firey display of color and light.

Summer rains fall into the depths of the Grand Canyon, muting the typically intense Arizona sunlight. The canyon layers take...

Rain Falls on the Monsoon Canvas

Summer rains fall into the depths of the Grand Canyon, muting the typically intense Arizona sunlight. The canyon layers take on a pastel-like quality, with nearly every shape and hard edge of the canyon softened by the rain filling the atmosphere. There's a gentleness to this photograph, and it's almost as if the paint on the canvas is still drying.

Clouds rise out of the Grand Canyon and up along the cliffs forming Angels Window on the North Rim.

Angel in the Clouds

Clouds rise out of the Grand Canyon and up along the cliffs forming Angels Window on the North Rim.

As a summer monsoon storm clears, the many temples, peaks, and buttes of the Grand Canyon emerge from the clouds, including Mount...

Mount Hayden in the Clouds

As a summer monsoon storm clears, the many temples, peaks, and buttes of the Grand Canyon emerge from the clouds, including Mount Hayden, the arrowhead-shaped peak on the left. I photographed this scene from Point Imperial, the highest viewpoint in the park at 8,803 feet above sea level located on the North Rim of the canyon.

The layers of ridges within the Grand Canyon fade away into the distance as summer rain falls from a passing monsoon thunderstorm...

Storm Light on Newberry Butte

The layers of ridges within the Grand Canyon fade away into the distance as summer rain falls from a passing monsoon thunderstorm.

Early morning rain falls upon Malgosa Crest, and ridgeline within the Grand Canyon. From Point Imperial on the North Rim.

Malgosa in Monsoon

Early morning rain falls upon Malgosa Crest, and ridgeline within the Grand Canyon. From Point Imperial on the North Rim.

Monsoon rains fall upon Nankoweap Butte and Nankoweap Mesa. From Point Imperial on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park...

Nankoweap Rain Veil

Monsoon rains fall upon Nankoweap Butte and Nankoweap Mesa. From Point Imperial on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

A reddish-orange apparition advances across the Grand Canyon. High winds from monsoon thunderstorms has caused a dust storm on...

The Ghost of Desert Sands

A reddish-orange apparition advances across the Grand Canyon. High winds from monsoon thunderstorms has caused a dust storm on the Navajo Nation to spill over into the canyon. Photographed from the Duck on a Rock overlook on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

The day before I made this photograph, it had rained heavily in and around the Grand Canyon. Clouds had formed within the canyon...

Monsoon Apparition from Cape Royal

The day before I made this photograph, it had rained heavily in and around the Grand Canyon. Clouds had formed within the canyon, and visibility dropped to only a few feet at times. The storm had begun to break overnight, and at sunrise, the clouds within the canyon started to burn off, and as they did, the view into the canyon opened up. The atmosphere was still thick with humidity creating a dreamy scene as clouds whisked by Wotans Throne. Photographed from Cape Royal on the North Rim of the canyon.

Lightning erupts from a monsoon thunderstorm as the distant western sky lights up after sunset over the Coconino Plateau in northern...

Lightning Strikes the Coconino

Lightning erupts from a monsoon thunderstorm as the distant western sky lights up after sunset over the Coconino Plateau in northern Arizona.

Rain falling from a summer monsoon storm advancing upon Mount Hayden is backlit by the rising sun. As the rain swept across the...

Rainswept

Rain falling from a summer monsoon storm advancing upon Mount Hayden is backlit by the rising sun. As the rain swept across the landscape, the details of the trees, rocks, and cliff edges began to blur, resulting in a photograph that takes on a very painterly quality.

From Point Imperial, North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

The photos in this portfolio were made using both the Fujifilm GFX 50R and GFX 100S medium format mirrorless cameras. The photos are available as large fine art prints. I still have more photographs to add to this gallery, so please check back often to see new photos as they are added. Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy the photos.