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Friday, June 14, 2024

Below the Rim: The Colors of the Canyon

Photographs from below the Grand Canyon Rim

By Jill Bernstein, Executive Director, Keep Arizona Beautiful.

Take a Hike Below the Rim

Every year, the Grand Canyon draws millions of visitors from around the world, eager to experience this extraordinary natural wonder. Yet, many of these visitors never venture far off the canyon’s rim. While the views from the rim are breathtaking, you need to strap on your hiking boots, follow one of the well-marked trails, and climb down into the canyon to appreciate what makes this place so extraordinary. If you need a little inspiration, there is a photography exhibit on display at the Town Hall in Paradise Valley that will give you amazing insight into the awe-inspiring natural beauty that lies below the rim.

Ed Lowry, a Scottsdale lawyer and former Mayor of the Town of Paradise Valley (1994-2004), has been documenting the beauty of the Grand Canyon since he made his first trip in 1965. Currently, the Town Hall of Paradise Valley is hosting an extensive exhibit of his remarkable large-scale images collected over the last 50 years of exploring.

Why the Grand Canyon is so GRAND

The Grand Canyon is immense: 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and it attains a depth of just over 6,000 feet at its deepest point. “The Grand Canyon is a great adventure, far different than anything else. There’s nothing quite like it. You get your senses tuned into a side of nature that most people rarely get to see,” says Lowry.

Lowry’s photographs offer a glimpse of the storyline buried below the Grand Canyon’s rim. The base of the canyon was formed of igneous and metamorphic rock over two billion years ago, and was buried in layer upon layer of sedimentary rock. At some point more than 30 million years ago, through shifting plate tectonics, the entire region was lifted, forming the Colorado Plateau. Nature is still at work making the Grand Canyon deeper and wider. Lowry captures these multi-hued geologic layers in breathtaking images that convey a strong sense of what being down in the canyon feels like.

Beyond the beauty of the rock, the photographs document the amazing kaleidoscope of colors to be found when you descend into the canyon. The various greens of the abundant plant life vibrate off the walls. Most remarkable of all, perhaps, are all the colors of the Little Colorado and Colorado Rivers. In more than 50 trips into the Grand Canyon, Lowry has captured the rivers in many different locations, at all different times of day, and in all different seasons. The variety of blues and greens on display are perhaps the most stunning surprise. From brilliant turquoise, to dark blue, to gray green, the colors of the rivers dance and glow in these images.

Lowry’s Love for the Grand Canyon

Lowry loves the Grand Canyon and wants everyone to know it and love it as much as he does. “There’s so much to know about the canyon,” says Lowry. “People need to go down into the canyon and spend a day or two enjoying how immense it is, how colorful, how much geologic history is on display.”

Lowry hopes that the more people know about the Grand Canyon, the more they will want to protect it. His photographs help provide glimpses of this natural wonder that can inspire people to celebrate and protect it for generations to come.

“The Grand Canyon is sort of like a great big cathedral,” says Lowry. “You realize that there is a lot more to the universe, to space and time, than just you. We need to protect it and make it user friendly so people can enjoy it, but we need to be vigilant about the things that can screw it up.”

Where to Find these Photographs in Person

To see these remarkable photographs, visit the Town Hall of Paradise Valley at 6401 E. Lincoln Drive, Paradise Valley. The Town Hall is open from 7 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday (Closed from 12 – 1 PM for lunch) and the exhibit will be on display until September 2019.

Jill Bernstein is the Executive Director of Keep Arizona Beautiful, a
statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering communities
to take care of their environment through litter abatement, recycling and


  1. Well done, Ed! Your exhibit at the Town Hall of Paradise Valley is great and brings back wonderful memories of that incredible place. It is a humbling experience to slide down the river and watch as the cliffs get higher and higher, turning colors based on the millions of years it took to create them….yes, truly humbling. Linda and I thank you so much for the trips we were able to take with you; the exhibit brings it all back!

  2. Thank you Ed! Your beautiful photographs inspired me to take the eight day raft trip through the canyon. It was the trip of a life time! And lucky me…you were on the trip to answer every question. Well done you!


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