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.
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.
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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!
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.
- Visiting Zion National Park
- Best Time to Visit Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Shuttle
- Zion National Park Packing List
- Things to do at Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Hikes
- Zion Hikes Without the Shuttle
- Zion National Park Scenic Drives
- Zion National Park Activities
- Places to Stay at Zion National Park
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.
→ 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!
Zion & Bryce Canyon AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
Tips for Taking Zion National Park Sunrise Photos
Here are a few sunrise photography tips to help you capture amazing images at Zion:
- 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 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 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.
Take advantage of the nice morning light to photograph the canyon walls seen
from the side and front of the museum as well!
Use a variety of basic photography techniques to walk around and capture different compositions. We found a cool foreground element near the side patio!
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!
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.
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.
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.
Early morning you won’t have as much traffic on the road making it easier to find
an open pullout.
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 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.
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.
Plan Your Vacation To Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Travel Guide
- Best Time to Visit Zion National Park
- Things to do at Zion National Park
- Zion National Park Tours
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:
- Camping in Zion National Park
- Camping Near Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon
- RV parks near Zion National Park
BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps