Where to Photograph the Best Sunrise in Moab, Utah

Here’s a list of the top spots to photograph the best sunrise in Moab, Utah. Keep in mind the best sunrise photography in Moab happens when the stone structures glow from the golden hour light.

Use this list of sunrise tips and photo spots along with our Moab, Utah Vacation Guide to plan your vacation itinerary.

sunrise photo spots in moab utah

Check out this list of the best places for Moab sunrise photography, camera gear you’ll need to pack, and recommended places to stay in Moab.

Moab packing lists for spring summer fall and winter
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Camera Gear for Moab Photography

We have a printed Camera Gear Checklist to help us pack all the equipment we need – that way we don’t forget anything!

  • Cameras for Landscape Photography
  • Lightweight Travel Tripods
  • Camera Bag: Protecting your camera from the sand and dust in Arches is essential. Using a camera backpack is so nice for hiking too.  
  • Graduated neutral density filter: There can be extreme differences in light around the various rock structures. To compensate for this variance of light you’ll need to use a GND filter. 
  • Camera cleaning kit: You’ll want to remove dust that WILL get on your lens – this is NOT for cleaning the sensor.  
  • Memory cards
  • External hard drive: Don’t forget to copy the photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’.  
  • Headlamp with a red lightFor the best sunrise, sunset or night sky shots, you’ll be navigating in the dark. Use a headlamp to light your way from the parking lot to your spot. Wearing a headlamp allows you to set up your equipment without having to hold a flashlight. Remember to use the red light setting and keep the beam pointed on the ground in front of you to avoid disrupting other photographers in the area taking long exposure shots.

Camera Gear at Amazon | Camera Gear at B&H Photo

camera accessories

A Photo Tour of Moab, Utah

Take a visual tour through the Moab, Utah area to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Things to Know Before Visiting Moab, Utah

Most of the year you’ll enjoy fun outdoor Moab adventures like scenic drives, hiking, biking, and photography. During the winter, the activities may be a bit more limited due to cold or snowy conditions!

When planning a trip to this popular Utah vacation spot, it’s important to be up-to-date with current weather and road conditions!

Use these resources to plan your Moab vacation:

view from Canyonlands Island in the Sky

Weather in Moab

We visit the Moab area multiple times a year, and have experienced all types of Moab weather during all four seasons.

It’s important to know the average temperatures, services available, and things to do to determine the best time to visit Moab for you to plan your vacation.

Spring Weather in Moab

Springtime in Moab varies quite a bit from month to month. When visiting Moab in the spring, it’s important to pack for all types of weather because you never know when the weather will change.

It is not unusual to get rain or even snowfall in March. We recommend you watch the weather and pack a winter coatwinter hat, and winter gloves when going to Moab in early spring. A fleece jacket, hat, and gloves should be fine later in the spring.

Summer Weather in Moab

When planning your trip to Moab in the summer expect HOT temperatures! Since the temperatures are brutal this time of year, plan your outdoor activities for the cooler mornings and evenings!

With the hot summer temperatures, you’ll want to protect yourself from the sun by wearing a sun hatsunscreen and sunglasses. It’s important to stay hydrated and carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack. You also need to eat salty healthy snacks!

Fall Weather in Moab

The weather at Moab in the fall starts to cool down making it a great time to explore the park because it will be cooler in the mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures aren’t too hot compared to the summer.

With the cooler temperatures at night, you will definitely want to bring a fleece jacketwarm hat and gloves for the nights and early mornings. 

Winter Weather in Moab

The temperatures really drop at Moab in the winter so it’s the least busy season. We don’t mind the colder weather for enjoying outdoor activities, which makes the winter the best time for us to visit to escape the crowds!

BUT the cold winter weather may not be for everyone.

sunrise in Moab with snow
sunrise in Moab with snow

Tips for Taking Sunrise Photos in Moab

Here are a few sunrise photography tips to help you capture amazing images in Moab:

  1. Take advantage of the compositions provided by moving to different viewpoints of the formations.  
  2. Use a sturdy tripod to maximize clarity and sharpness, and to expand creative possibilities.

Settings:

  1. From a tripod: ISO 100, Aperture F/11 – F/13, adjust shutter speed to accommodate changing light conditions. 
  2. Handheld: set shutter speed to twice the value of your lens focal length (ex. Lens focal length of 24mm = 1/50 shutter speed). Aperture F/11 – F/13, adjust ISO to accommodate shutter speed.
  3. Expose for the bright sunlit areas.

Check out these awesome SUNRISE AND SUNSET PRESETS at ETSY!

sunrise and sunset presets at Etsy

Top Locations to Photograph the Best Sunrise in Moab

To capture a Moab sunrise, the two best photo spots can be found in Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky.

We’ll detail everything you need to know to photograph the sunrise at Arches and Island in the Sky.

Both parks are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When planning to visit Arches National Park, check the website for the latest information about permits to enter the park (usually from April to October).

You CAN visit Arches without a ticket as long as you enter the park before 6 a.m or after 5 p.m. Since we’re talking about sunrise photography, you’ll be in the park well before the hours required to have a ticket so you’ll be good!

Before visiting Canyonlands National Park, check that website as well for all updated information, just in case!

Sunrise Photo Spots in Arches National Park

Check out our Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide with tips and best times to take pictures at each viewpoint!

Here are the best places to photograph the sunrise at Arches National Park.

Arches National Park sunrise at Turret Arch
Arches National Park sunrise at Turret Arch

Turret Arch at Sunrise

Turret Arch is one of the best sunrise spots in Arches National Park to capture the red-orange glow on the North Window and Turret Arch.

To access this spot to see the arch through the window takes a bit of scrambling up a rock wall to a small ledge.

Turret Arch at sunrise
Turret Arch at sunrise

Walk around the area and try a variety of basic photography techniques to photograph the arch.

One example is to capture the contrast of shadow and light you get in the morning at this location.

Double Arch photo at Arches National Park
Double Arch photo at Arches National Park

Double Arch at Sunrise

When you’re done photographing Turret Arch and the North and South Window, head across the parking lot to Double Arch.

This location is best photographed in the morning once the sun is a bit higher in the sky to reduce the shadows. And it’s the best time to take pictures without a lot of people scrambling on the rocks.

Double Arch photo at Arches National Park
Double Arch at Arches National Park

This is a good location to get a wide angle photo to show the landscape around the arch.

And definitely move around the area to capture different angles and perspectives.

La Sal overlook at sunrise at Arches National Park
La Sal overlook at sunrise at Arches National Park

La Sal Viewpoint at Sunrise

At this viewpoint you’ll enjoy a 360-degree view of the La Sal Mountains to the east and the formations like Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, and The Organ in the Courthouse Towers area. You’ll also see a distant view of Balanced Rock and the Windows Section along the horizon.

At this location you will see the sun crossing the horizon, but this Arches sunrise spot is a favorite because of the orange/red glow reflected onto the various formations.

Reflected light at Sunrise at Arches National Park
Reflected light at Sunrise at Arches National Park

There are many ways to photograph this area so use your creativity in composing the picture.

Continue down the Arches National Park scenic drive to get closer to The Organ, Three Gossips and Sheep structures. Stop at any of the pullouts on the right before you get to the Courthouse parking lot.

The Organ at sunrise in Arches National Park
The Organ at sunrise in Arches National Park

Be sure to walk around the area to find ways to photograph these subjects.

Three Gossips and Sheep at sunrise at Arches
Three Gossips and Sheep at sunrise at Arches

You can use foliage to create a framing effect which draws the viewer’s eye to the subject in the photograph.

La Sal overlook at Blue Hour at Arches NP
La Sal overlook at Blue Hour at Arches NP

Remember you can capture amazing soft light during the blue hour before sunrise. We recommend you arrive to your sunrise location a good 30 minutes early to get pictures during this amazing time at dawn.

La Sal Overlook is a great spot to photograph reflections if you’re lucky to visit after rain!

Balanced Rock sunrise at Arches
Balanced Rock sunrise at Arches

Balanced Rock at Sunrise

We like to visit Balanced Rock after we’ve photographed sunrise at La Sal Overlook and the pullouts along the scenic drive near Courthouse Towers.

Balanced Rock is a popular feature in the park. There is an easy .3 mile round trip trail that makes a full loop around this landmark. Take note at how this rock feature changes as you walk around and see the various perspectives!

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park
Balanced Rock at Arches National Park

FUN Arches National Park Fact: the balanced, upper portion of the rock is as large as three school buses!

Sunburst near Balanced Rock at Arches National Park
Sunburst near Balanced Rock at Arches National Park

Walk the trail and take photos of the balancing rock from different angles, as well as other rock formations in the area.

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park near sunrise
Balanced Rock at Arches National Park near sunrise

We like this view taken from the pullout just past the parking lot before the turn to The Windows area.

Delicate Arch at sunrise
Delicate Arch at sunrise

Delicate Arch at Sunrise

Photographing the iconic Delicate Arch is usually at the top of the list when visiting Arches National Park. The impressive free-standing arch is a famous geologic wonder.

The trail to Delicate Arch is 3 miles roundtrip and climbs 480 feet in elevation. The hike is mostly uphill and takes 1 to 1 ½ hours if you are reasonably fit. If you want to be there in time for sunrise, you’ll need a headlamp for the hike up in the dark.

Delicate Arch at dawn
Delicate Arch at dawn

We like to get there at least 30 minutes before sunrise so we have time to walk around the area and get different viewpoints and perspectives during the soft blue hour light.

Arches sunrise spot Delicate Arch
Arches sunrise spot Delicate Arch

Delicate Arch isn’t the most popular place to photograph the sunrise in Moab, so it won’t be as crowded as it is at sunset. At sunrise you can capture a nice sunburst with the arch and enjoy peach and quite.

At sunset, the iconic view above of the arch and the surrounding landscape has a golden glow from the setting sun… but it’s a lot more crowded!

More Arches Photography Tips

Sunrise Photo Spots in Canyonlands National Park

The best sunrise photography will be in the Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky district.

Mesa Arch at sunrsie
Mesa Arch at sunrsie

Mesa Arch at Sunrise

Due to the popularity of Mesa Arch, you’ll need to plan ahead and arrive WELL BEFORE sunrise in order to get a good spot. The area for taking this iconic Canyonlands shot is small.

Mesa Arch is one of the most popular Canyonlands sunrise photo spots. The short hike only takes 30-minutes to access the iconic arch. The trail is an easy 0.5 mile loop marked by stone cairns and driftwood.

You’ll see the arch on the right side, near the edge of the sheer cliff face and can even spot the famous Washer Woman through the crest of the arch.

golden glow under Mesa Arch at Canyonlands
golden glow under Mesa Arch at Canyonlands

Our best tip for photographing Mesa Arch: stay after sunrise! The golden glow on the under side of the Arch continues for quite a while, and you can capture awesome photos when all the other photographers have left.

sunrise at Grand View Point Canyonlands
sunrise at Grand View Point Canyonlands

Grand View Point at Sunrise

At the end of the Island in the Sky scenic drive is the Grand View Point lookout. From here, you can see the majestic White Rim as well as The Maze, The Needles, and distant mountain peaks. A short, paved, 300 foot sidewalk leads to a spectacular viewpoint. Just beyond this paved platform, follow the trail down a stone staircase.

From this point the trail is a mix of dirt and slickrock marked by cairns to the second viewpoint which is 2 miles round trip from the parking area. Be careful not to get too close to the edge.

More Canyonlands Photography Tips

Arches and Canyonlands photography guide

Moab Utah Tours and Resources

Where to Stay in Moab

There are all types of lodging in and near Moab from budget-friendly hotels to higher-prices resorts. You’ll also find vacation rentals, a hostel, campgrounds and RV parks in Moab.

READ OUR FULL GUIDE: Where to stay in Moab

  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Arches.
  • Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel. 
  • Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
  • Vacation Rentals in Moab – we like kitchens found in rentals to cook our own meals to save money!

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

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