FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — Take a single glance around any point at the Grand Canyon, and you’ll see almost everyone snapping a souvenir of their journey, whether it’s a professional set-up on a tripod or a group of tourists taking a selfie in front of the great chasm.
The urge to photograph America’s natural wonder is something that Glenn Tamblingson knows well. A professional photographer with decades of experience shooting the Grand Canyon, Tamblingson and his wife, Lori, recently opened Canyon Country Tours in Flagstaff, Arizona.
The Tamblingsons came to the Grand Canyon for the first time in 1997.
“We fell in love with it, we were absolutely smitten,” Glenn said. “We continued to come back here every year until we finally moved to Flagstaff in 2013.”
While there are several companies that offer day tours of the canyon, Canyon Country Tours is unique — they offer a tour specifically designed to get photographers that picture-perfect shot of the Canyon. The photography tours can accommodate 4 to 6 people, depending on space, and offer participants a chance to get beautiful shots at some of the lesser-known and less-crowded scenic viewpoints.
“It gives visitors a chance to see some views they would never see” on a traditional tour,” Glenn said. “It’s all about getting to the right place at the right time of day.”
Photography tours, which start earlier in the day and go later into the evening, include in-depth photography instruction and techniques from Glenn while Lori offers information on the area’s flora, fauna and geography. Glenn said the group will photograph what’s available, whether it be flowers, wildlife or the pop-up storms that can happen during the summer monsoon season.
While some knowledge of photography and camera equipment is recommended, Lori said the tour can accommodate photographers from amateurs with point-and-shoot pocket cameras to professionals with a complete set-up. Lori said she has even had visitors take the tour armed only with their cell phones.
Canyon Country Tours is based in Flagstaff and picks up guests at their hotel to travel to the canyon. Pickups can also be arranged in Williams, Valle and Tusayan for no extra fee. All tours include park entry and lunch on the rim. Special dietary needs can be accommodated with advance notice.
Glenn said the photography tour focuses on locations along the East Rim drive — the stretch of Highway 64 heading toward Desert View Watchtower. These points are often less crowded and allow him to spend as much time as the group wants at any given point. One of his favorites is Lipan Point, and the lesser-known Little Lipan Point just a short walk away. The tour lasts until just after sunset so participants have the opportunity to get a few shots of the sun creating a colorful splash across the canyon as it sinks beneath the horizon.
In addition to photography tours, the Tamblingsons also offers traditional guided day tours with familiar stops like Grand Canyon Village and Mather Point. Or visitors can arrange a private tour for large groups or specific itineraries.
Glenn said Canyon Country Tours is a very family-friendly experience.
“We love the canyon and we love sharing it with others,” he said. “We love meeting people and learning about their cultures along the way.”
“People are so excited about what they’re seeing,” Lori added. “The get really into it.”
The Grand Canyon is a special place and Glenn and Lori do their best to make sure first-time visitors are awed.
“When I first came here, I did a sort of unveiling,” Glenn said. “I didn’t allow myself to look directly at the canyon until I was right there at the rim. And when you finally look at it, it’s like ‘wow.’ I try to do that for every first-time visitor.”
Canyon Country Tours operates seven days per week. More information or reservations can be found at www.canyoncountrytours.net or by calling (888) 520-0024.