Arriving for work at the Yavapai Geology Museum, I hurry through the door to punch in on time. I always seem to be running behind, no matter how early I begin to get ready for work. I tell myself I should get up earlier and be at this point that juts from the rim of the Grand Canyon in time to watch the complete sunrise. I never seem to make it that early, but I haven’t been disappointed with the view yet.
I hurry through the morning prep work that needs completed before we open the museum and gift shop to the public. Then, grabbing my camera, I go to the picture window that allows you to see the most diverse geology within the canyon. Depending on the light, I run outside the east or west side of the building to snap the best shots. Sunrise isn’t disappointing.
Built in 1928, a team of geologists determined that Yavapai Point would be the best location for the geology museum. Interpretive ranger talks are held during the day, where guests can listen to park rangers explore the myths and facts known about the Grand Canyon. Exhibits help explain some of the scientific reasons for the canyon’s formation. The window that runs the length of the south side of the building allows people to come indoors, yet see a phenomenal view. One mile below the rim, Phantom Ranch can be seen. It is easier to spot now that the leaves of the trees have turned golden. Descending into the canyon, the temperature rises 20-30 degrees. It is only within the past few weeks that the trees have turned color, yet the south rim has had snow several times.
As the morning progresses, an unexpected snow storm begins. Watching the snow falling into the canyon from the warmth of the museum is ideal. Soon the windows are crowded with tourists. The snowfall melts as it heads to the bottom of the canyon, turning into rain along its way. It is rare for the snow to coat the canyon’s depths.
At times, the window looks white. There is no longer a view, and visitors who only have a short time at the canyon are wishing they could see. It doesn’t last long though, and soon you can watch the snow cross the window from east to west. It was a quick storm and although a coating of snow covered the ground at the rim, it quickly melted.
Soon it is approaching sunset. Visitors begin crowding the window again. The gift shop traffic slows, and I grab my camera again. The sunset is as beautiful as the morning’s sunrise. I run out the west door, then the east, snapping pictures. I go back inside the museum, but keep my eye on the window. As the sun goes down, the shadows change on the canyon wall, shifting colors and highlighting crevices that were hidden in shadows a few minutes prior. I am one of the tourists, gaping at the beauty and taking picture after picture.
The sun sets and the tourists head to dinner and their hotels. I close up the museum and step out into a blackness that most people don’t often see. Lighting is kept to a minimum along the canyon so everyone can enjoy the night skies. I hurry for home and as soon as I arrive, I am back outside one last time to walk the dog. I can no longer see the canyon, or the sun, but I am able to see bright stars and the Milky Way. Every day I am reminded of how beautiful nature is, and how fortunate I am to be living in one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
by Diane Moore
photos by Diane Moore