There are many locations to watch sunrise at Arches National Park. Keep in mind the best sunrise photography at Arches happens when the stone structures glow from the golden hour light.
Use this list of sunrise tips and photo spots along with our Arches National Park travel guide to plan your vacation itinerary.
Check out this list of the best places for Arches National Park sunrise photography, camera gear you’ll need to pack, and recommended places to stay near Arches.
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CAMERA GEAR FOR ARCHES NATIONAL PARK PHOTOGRAPHY
We have a printed Camera Gear Checklist to help us pack all the equipment we need – that way we don’t forget anything!
We recommend the following camera equipment for taking photos at Arches:
- Camera: Check out the compact travel cameras we recommend!
- Tripod: List of lightweight travel tripods we recommend!
- Camera Bag: Protecting your camera from the sand and dust at Arches is essential. Using a camera backpack is so nice for hiking too. → We LOVE Lowepro camera backpacks.
- Neutral density filter: There can be extreme differences in light at Arches around the various rock structures. To compensate for this variance of light you’ll need to use a neutral density filter. → Check out the Kase magnetic filters we use!
- Camera cleaning kit: You’ll want a field cleaning kit to remove dust that WILL get on your lens at Arches. 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: Don’t forget to copy the photos to a portable external hard drive ‘just in case’. → Check out these awesome portable external hard drives.
- 8. Headlamp: For the best sunrise, sunset or night sky shots at Arches National Park, you’ll be navigating in the dark. Use a flashlight or 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. → Check out these headlamps with the red light!
- Photographing the Southwest book: THIS book has amazing information for taking pictures of natural landmarks in southern Utah.
Arches National Park Photo Spots Map
Tips for Taking Arches Sunrise Photos
Here are a few sunrise photography tips to help you capture amazing images at Arches:
- Take advantage of the compositions provided by moving to different viewpoints of the formations.
- Use a sturdy tripod to maximize clarity and sharpness, and to expand creative possibilities.
- From a tripod: ISO 100, Aperture F/11 – F/13, adjust shutter speed to accommodate changing light conditions.
- 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.
- Expose for the bright sunlit areas.
Check out these awesome PRESETS for sunrise and sunset at ETSY!
Sunrise 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!
Turret Arch Sunrise
To access this spot to see the arch through the window takes a bit of scrambling up a rock wall to a small ledge.
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 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.
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 Viewpoint 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.
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.
Be sure to walk around the area to find ways to photograph these subjects.
You can use foliage to create a framing effect which draws the viewer’s eye to the subject in the photograph.
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
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!
FUN FACT: the balanced, upper portion of the rock is as large as three school buses!
Walk the trail and take photos of the balancing rock from different angles, as well as other rock formations in the area.
We like this view taken from the pullout just past the parking lot before the turn to The Windows area.
Delicate Arch 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.
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.
Sunrise at Delicate Arch isn’t as popular as 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!
BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps:
Visiting Arches National Park:
- Arches National Park Travel Guide
- Best Time to Visit Arches National Park
- Things to Do at Arches National Park
- Arches National Park Photography
- Arches National Park Packing List
- Arches National Park Camping
- Where to Stay Near Arches National Park
- Tours Near Moab, Utah
Where to Stay Near Arches:
There are no hotels in Arches so most people stay in the nearby town of 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.
Here are a few of our favorite places to stay near Arches:
- 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 – we really like rentals with a kitchen, washer and dryer and amenities like a swimming pool and hot tub.