Best Photo Spots For Sunrise at Zion National Park

There are many locations to watch sunrise at Zion National Park. Keep in mind the best sunrise photography at Zion happens when the stone structures glow from the golden hour light.

Use this list of sunrise tips and photo spots along with our Zion National Park travel guide to plan your vacation itinerary.

Zion National Park Sunrise Photo Spots

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

Zion National Park photo spots checklist Optin
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

DOWNLOAD: Camera Gear Checklist 

  • 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!

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

camera accessories

Things To Know Before Visiting Zion

Before visiting Zion National Park you’ll need to know if the shuttle running when you’ll be there. If it is then you’ll have limited access to sunrise and sunset photography at the locations in Zion Canyon.

If your Zion vacation is in the spring, summer or fall when the Zion National Park shuttle is running, don’t worry. You can still get nice morning or late afternoon photos at the locations in the canyon.

To help you plan, we’ve indicated the “location” for each photo spot below. If it’s in Zion Canyon, then it’s only accessible using the shuttle during shuttle season.

Here’s a list of resources to help you plan the other aspects of your trip to Zion, in addition to taking pictures.

A Photo Tour of Zion National Park

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

Map of Zion Photo Spots

CLICK the link to access the Zion National Park photos spots Google Map with the pinned locations.

Zion Photo Spots Map

→ CHECK OUT our Zion National Park Photography Guide with detailed information and tips about taking photos at each spot. It’s a great resource to download, print and take with you on your trip!

Tips for Taking Zion National Park Sunrise Photos

Here are a few sunrise photography tips to help you capture amazing images at Zion:

  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

Sunrise Spots in Zion National Park

Check out our Zion National Park Photography Guide with tips and best times to take pictures at each viewpoint!

Towers of the Virgin Zion Nationa Park at blue hour

Towers of the Virgin at Sunrise

Photograph the Towers of the Virgin on the patio behind the Zion Human History Museum. This is a popular spot for sunrise so we recommend going early.

Towers of the Virgin Zion Nationa Park at golden hour

We like to photograph the blue hour light before sunrise, then capture the golden hour light as it shines on the towers.

Take advantage of the nice morning light to photograph the canyon walls seen
from the side and front of the museum as well!

Zion Human History museum landscape

Use a variety of basic photography techniques to walk around and capture different compositions. We found a cool foreground element near the side patio! 

Canyon Overlook at sunrise at Zion

Sunrise at Canyon Overlook Trail

We love photographing sunrise at the end of the Canyon Overlook Trail. It’s a short, easy Zion National Park hike with a stunning view of the main canyon with first light hitting the East Temple just above!

Canyon Overlook at sunrise at Zion

If you get there early enough, you can capture light trails as the cars drive along the switchbacks below.

Start your hike an hour before sunrise so you’ll be at the overlook in time to
capture the glow on the tops of the mountains across the valley. You’ll need a headlamp for the first part of the hike.

Canyon Overlook sunrise zion national park

The trailhead is located behind the ranger traffic booth on the north side of the road. There are spots along this 1 mile round-trip trail with steep drop offs.

Zion Canyon Overlook at sunrise

Canyon Overlook is a good location to get a wide angle photo to show the entire canyon! And it works well to capture a vertical orientation image too.

Mt. Carmel Road Switchbacks in the Early Morning

For sunrise and morning photography, drive from Zion Canyon and climb the switchbacks toward the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. The pullouts along the switchbacks on this Zion National Park scenic drive provide wonderful sunrise photography views to capture the light on the tops of the cliffs.

sunrise near Mount Carmel Tunnel at Zion

Early morning you won’t have as much traffic on the road making it easier to find an open pullout.

light trails Zion National Park highway 9

The switchbacks and turns along this road also make it a great spot to capture light trail photos! Be careful taking pictures in the dark, especially if you’re parked on a blind curve.

Three patriarchs waterfall and bridge at Zion National Park

Three Patriarchs Morning Photography

The Three Patriarchs area is a terrific location for morning photography. There are quite a few ways to photograph this area.

Walk along the service road toward the buildings and you’ll see a dirt path to the right. Walk along that trail for a short distance until you come to the bridge. This is a great spot to photograph the river, waterfalls, bridge and Three Patriarchs.

Three Patriarchs reflection in the River at Zion

There’s also a path that goes along the river. You can find many opportunities to
photograph reflections of the Three Patriarchs in the river. As you can see, we enjoy taking photos at Zion National Park in the winter!

And finally, the view from the short overlook hike on the opposite side of the road from the river provides a different vantage point as well. But it’s best to photograph late afternoon and close to sunset when there’s light on the tops of the patriarchs.

take jaw-dropping photos at Zion National Park

Plan Your Vacation To Zion National Park

Where to Stay Near Zion National Park

You definitely want to stay in Springdale which borders the entrance to Zion.

  • Holiday Inn Express – our favorite place to stay with an outdoor pool and amenities you’d find in a high end hotel
  • Zion Lodge – we haven’t had a chance to stay here yet, but you can’t go wrong staying right IN the park!
  • Under Canvas Zion – if you want to experience a less crowded part of Zion, this is the place! It’s in the Kolob section of the park.
  • Vacation Rentals in Springdale – you’ll want to stay in Springdale so you’re close to the park entrance and can walk to shopping and restaurants. 

Resources for camping near Zion:

BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps

Zion national park guides and maps

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.