Canyonlands Sunset Photo Spots at Island in the Sky

Here’s our list of the best Canyonlands sunset photo spots at Island in the Sky plus tips for visiting this National Park in Utah.

Use this Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your vacation: travel tips, photo tips, and a camera gear packing list!

Canyonlands Sunset photo spots

We live just hours away from Canyonlands so we’ve had the experience of photographing the park during every season and all types of weather and light conditions.

Keep reading for a list of Canyonlands Island in the Sky sunset photo spots and tips!

canyonlands packing list optin box
Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy.

Camera Gear for Landscape Photography

  • Camera: check out the compact travel cameras we recommend!
  • Tripod: take a look at these compact and lightweight travel tripods!
  • Camera Bag: protect your camera from sand and water → We use Lowepro camera backpacks for outdoor photography.
  • Neutral density filter: to compensate for variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter.  → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
  • Camera cleaning kit: remove dust or water that WILL get on your lens. NOTE: this is not for cleaning the sensor.  
  • Memory cards: purchase name brand memory cards since you’re trusting your images to the card!  → We use Lexar and Sandisk!
  • External hard drive: copy photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’. 
  • Headlamp: use when taking sunrise and sunset photos!

A Photo Tour of Canyonlands National Park

Take a visual tour through Canyonlands National Park to see the stunning landscapes you’ll see when you visit!

Canyonlands National Park Travel Tips

When visiting Canyonlands National Park you’ll see exquisite natural canyons, arches, fins, buttes, mesas, and spires that have all been carved out by the awe-inspiring power of the Green and Colorado Rivers.

Because of these two rivers and their natural flow pattern through the park, Canyonlands has been further subdivided into four unique districts.

Canyonlands Districts

Canyonlands is subdivided, along the Green and Colorado Rivers, into four unique districts: Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky, Needles Canyonlands, The Maze, Island in the Sky, and The Rivers.

Of all the districts in Canyonlands National Park, we recommend visiting Island in the Sky because it’s the most accessible and offers fantastic, panoramic views of the park along the scenic drive.

Take a short side trip to visit Dead Horse Point State Park near the entrance to Island in the Sky. It is a must-see location!

In contrast, when you visit The Needles Canyonlands, you’ll experience a remote, backcountry experience with an assortment of natural geologic formations that can only be reached by using one of the many Canyonlands hiking trails or four-wheel driving trails.

Here’s a good article we wrote detailing Canyonlands Island in the Sky vs Needles!

Best Time of Year to Visit Canyonlands

Canyonlands is located in Southeast Utah, part of the Colorado Plateau “high desert”. This area has large temperature fluctuations, sometimes up to 40 degrees in a single day!

The best time to visit Canyonlands National Park is during the most temperate seasons in the spring (April through May) and fall (mid-September through October). The spring and fall daytime highs average 60º to 80ºF and lows average 30º to 50ºF. Sunrise and sunset photography happen at reasonable times of day which is nice!

Summer temperatures often exceed 100ºF! Outdoor activities and photography should be limited to the cooler morning and evenings to avoid the harsh mid-day sun. Keep in mind the sunrise times are really early, sunset times are really late, and the milky way is best photographed in the middle of the night during the summer.

Winters temperature highs average 30º to 50ºF and lows average 0º to 20ºF. So it’s cold! Large amounts of snow in the park are uncommon, but even small amounts of snow or ice can make the park trails and roads impassable. Be prepared with the right winter clothing so you’ll want to be out taking pictures! We recommend photographer gloves and rechargeable hand warmers!

Canyonlands Island in the Sky Photo Spots Map

Take a look at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky photo spots map with the pinned photography locations so you can navigate to each spot in the park.

canyonlands photo spots map

Canyonlands Sunset Photos at Island in the Sky

The unique landscape in this area results in jaw-dropping Canyonlands National Park photography!

There are specific locations to capture Canyonlands sunrise photos, and they are different from the locations for sunset.

For sunset, we recommend Green River Overlook, Grand View Point, and Dead Horse Point State Park!

If you want a 3-day itinerary for photographing Arches, Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point, check out our Arches & Canyonlands Itinerary and Photography Guide!!

Green River Overlook Sunset Photos

From the Green River Overlook you can get a breathtaking view of the landscape for hundreds of miles in every direction. You can even see the Green River meandering through the canyons.

The viewpoint here faces southwest, making it a great location to track the sun as it sets on the horizon.

You’ll want to capture the red-orange glow of the light as it falls on the landscape. And look for creative ways to photograph this location.

Green River Overlook at Canyonlands National Park
Green River Overlook
Sunset at Green River Overlook Canyonlands
Sunset at Green River Overlook
Green River Overlook sunset
A unique view of Green River Overlook

Grand View Point Sunset Photos

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.

As the sun sets, the view from this location will get shadows. We prefer this spot for Canyonlands sunrise photography instead.

photographer at Grand View Overlook Canyonlands
Photographer at Grand View Point
Grand View Point at sunset
Shadows at Grand View Point at sunset

Dead Horse Point Sunset Photos

If you only have time to visit one location for sunset, we recommend Dead Horse Point State Park instead of Island in the Sky. It’s known for its stunning views of the Colorado River, dramatic vertical cliffs, canyons, and vista views that you can’t see from Island in the Sky.

The best time to photograph Dead Horse Point is before sunset when the landscape gets that red glow. We also like to stay after sunset to capture even light during blue hour.

We have found it best to find a spot along the trail below and to the right of the platform to capture the Dead Horse Point sunset.

There may be quite a few people there to watch the sunset, but there is plenty of room along the canyon rim for everyone to have a great view!

Look for creative ways to photograph Dead Horse Point like the red glow on the rocks, the people watching on the rocks, or using elements in the landscape to highlight the scene.

Sunset at Dead Horse Point
Sunset at Dead Horse Point
sunset glow at Dead Horse Point
Sunset glow on the landscape at Dead Horse Point
Dead Horse Point tree
Creative Dead Horse Point photography
after sunset at Dead Horse Point
After sunset at Dead Horse Point
Dead Horse Point blue hour
Dead Horse Point blue hour

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

Plan Your Canyonlands Vacation

Where to Stay Near Canyonlands

There are no lodging facilities in the park, but there are campgrounds:

  •  Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Canyonlands.
  •  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!
  • Townhomes south of Moab – we really like the townhomes in Spanish Valley with kitchen, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab).
Arches and Canyonlands photography guide

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *