22 Exclusive Photos of the Inversion of Fog and Clouds at Grand Canyon National Park

In early December of 2013, visitors at the Grand Canyon were treated to a rare “inversion” of clouds that settled into the Canyon. Some media outlets claimed that this phenomenon of cold air getting trapped in the Canyon occurs only about once every ten years.

As a 5-year resident of the South Rim, I can attest that this is only partially true. I’d seen a “full” inversion (Where the clouds completely fill the Canyon) once before. A “partial” inversion, where the blanket of clouds lies lower in the Canyon, occurs about once or twice every year, usually in the winter. In fact, the last inversion happened as recently as January 2013. Some images of that one made it into my 2014 calendar.

A factor that made it so spectacular this time was that there were three inversions on almost three consecutive days! The first occurred on the day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, on November 29th. After a full day of thick, freezing fog above the rim on Saturday, we were awe-struck by another inversion on Sunday December 1st, and yet another one on Monday morning!

I shot these photos along the South Rim on Friday and Sunday,
with a Nikon D5100.

looking west from Moran Point

An “ethereal waterfall” of clouds rolls over Comanche Point and the Palisades of the Desert.

Vishnu Temple is seen here on the far horizon. Closer is the top of O’Neill Butte, and Newton Butte farther beyond.

The fleeting moment when an inversion begins to break up offers some wonderful photo opportunities as well.

the Desert View Watchtower(right) and Comanche Point(left) seen from Navajo Point

The Ship is Sinking!

In the lower left of this picture, you can see the small arc of a rainbow with a seemingly tiny dot centered underneath it. The tiny dot is actually a part of my shadow, yet another phenomenon called a brocken spectre.

Is that my gigantic shadow again on the lower right?

looking east from Grandview Point

the Desert View Watchtower

Coronado Butte

Indian Garden

Kolb Studio

Lookout Studio

the El Tovar Hotel

the Battleship


  1. David Rickly says:

    Beautiful. I recall with extreme mindfulness my one and only visit to GC. We arrived as sunset occured….

  2. Dave a Elston says:

    Thanks for sharing…those of us stuck in The Valley when a phenomenon like this occurs are certainly grateful!

  3. Just incredible, Jamie!

Speak Your Mind