Guide to Zion National Park Photography

We are lucky to live a only few hours away so we can visit Zion National Park multiple times each year. One advantage to being a local is knowing all about Zion National Park photography during every season and all types of weather and lighting conditions.

Use this Zion National Park travel guide to plan your vacation. It includes things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more!

zion national park photography guide

Below we share our favorite photo spots at Zion, tips for taking pictures at Zion, and the camera gear you’ll need.

Zion National Park photo spots checklist Optin
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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!

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

camera accessories

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!

Basic Information for Visiting Zion

The first thing you need to know about visiting Zion National Park: is the shuttle running? If so, you’ll have limited access to sunrise and sunset photography at the locations in Zion Canyon.

You can still get nice morning or late afternoon photos at these spots if your Zion vacation is in the spring, summer or fall when the Zion National Park shuttle is running.

We’ve indicated the “location” for each photo spot below. If it’s in Zion Canyon, then it’s only accessible via 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.

ZION PHOTO SPOTS MAP

CLICK HERE 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!

ZION PHOTOGRAPHY LOCATIONS AND TIPS

Below you’ll find photos, photo tips and best times to photograph each location at Zion. We recommend taking pictures at Zion in the morning and evening and hiking during the harsh midday light. Check out our recommended best photo spots for sunrise at Zion National Park.

Here’s our list of Zion Photography locations we recommend:

Zion Human History Museum

Location: Zion Canyon Shuttle Route

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.

Zion photography behind the museum at blue hour

BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH: SUNRISE – We like to photograph the blue hour light before sunrise, then capture the golden hour light as it shines on the towers.

Zion photography behind the museum at golden hour

PHOTO TIPS:

  • During the nice morning light be sure to photograph the canyon walls seen from the side and front of the museum as well.
  • Walk around to find different compositions of the scene, and elements to include in the foreground.
Zion National Park view

Three Patriarchs

Location: Zion Canyon Shuttle Route

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

Three patriarchs bridge and river at Zion National Park

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.

Three Patriarchs viewpoint at sunset

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.

BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH: Morning and Late Afternoon

PHOTO TIPS:

Big Bend and Great White Throne

Location: Zion Canyon Shuttle Route

Big Bend is found in the heart of Zion Canyon along the Virgin River. It’s a great location to walk along the river and photograph the colorful canyon walls you see here!

Big Bend Great White Throne Zion Canyon

There’s a pullout just before (if going up Zion Canyon) or just after (if going down Zion Canyon) Big Bend that provides a good view of the Great White Throne.

Great White Throne at Zion National Park

We like to take the path down to the meadow and walk along the river finding various ways to photograph this amazing area!

Great White Throne Zion Canyon

In the late afternoon the light illuminates the top of the Great White Throne.

BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH: Morning and Late Afternoon

PHOTO TIPS:

  • Take photos from the parking area at the overlook.
  • Hike the short distance down to the meadow and along the river to find other ways to photograph this area.

Riverside Walk

Location: Zion Canyon Shuttle Route

At the end of the Riverside Walk trail is the start of the popular Zion National Park hike, The Narrows.

Riverside Walk Zion National Park Photography

We recommend exploring this trail in the morning to avoid the crowds. It’s also a time with good light to photograph the canyon walls, river and waterfalls.

river and waterfalls along the Virgin River at Zion

The high canyon walls provide a nice even light along the river in the morning which is perfect for photographing rivers and waterfalls.

BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH: Morning and Late Afternoon

PHOTO TIPS:

  • Morning and late afternoon are the best times to avoid the sharp contrast of light on the canyon walls with the darker shaded areas.
  • This is a great place to take waterfall and river photos.
take jaw-dropping photos at Zion National Park

Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

Location: Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel

As you leave Zion Canyon and climb the switchbacks toward the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, stop along the pull-outs to photograph this part of the park! Give yourself plenty of time to make your way along this Zion National Park scenic drive!

view of Zion near the Mount Carmel Tunnel

The pullouts along this stretch of road provide wonderful sunrise photography views to capture the light on the tops of the cliffs.

sunrise near Mount Carmel Tunnel at Zion

The switchbacks and turns along this road make it a great spot to capture light trail photos!

Zion National Park scenic drive view
head light along road in Zion National Park

BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH: Sunrise and Night

PHOTO TIPS:

  • Dawn and sunrise you’ll capture the glow on the tops of the mountains across the valley.
  • Early morning you won’t have as much traffic on the road making it easier to find an open pullout.
  • Be careful taking pictures at night, especially if you’re parked on a blind curve.

Canyon Overlook Trail

Location: Highway 9

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

The parking for this hike is VERY limited so early morning is the best time! It’s one of the Zion hikes without the shuttle you can do!

Canyon Overlook at sunrise at Zion

*The parking for this hike is VERY limited so early morning is the best time! It’s one of the Zion hikes without the shuttle you can do!

Canyon Overlook sunrise zion national park

BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH: Sunrise

PHOTO TIPS:

  • 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.

Highway 9

Location: Highway 9

Highway 9 from Zion Canyon toward the East Entrance is a fun drive with amazing landscapes to photograph at every turn!

Zion National Park along Highway 9

Take your time, stop at pull-outs along the scenic drive, and photograph anything that catches your eye!

Landscape along Highway 9 at Zion

If you’re lucky to visit when it’s raining, you may get to experience pop-up waterfalls!

Waterfall at Zion during a rain storm

Checkerboard Mesa has a designated parking area that makes it easy to stop right near the East Entrance.

Zion National Park in the winter is so beautiful with the contrast of white snow against the colorful landscape!

Checkerboard Mesa in the snow at Zion

BEST TIME TO PHOTOGRAPH: Morning and Late afternoon

PHOTO TIPS:

  • Morning will be the easiest time to find open spaces to park at the various pullouts.
  • When you stop at pullouts, walk around the area to find unique ways to compose the photos you take.

Pa-rus Trail / The Watchman

Location: Visitor Center

The Pa’rus Trail runs along the Virgin River and has great views of The Watchman. Access the trail near the Visitor Center – watch for the signs.

Pa'rus Trail at sunset at zion national park

In the late afternoon and sunset there’s golden light on the Watchman. Add the Virgin River in the foreground, and you’ve captured an iconic scene at Zion!

Pa'rus Trail and The Watchman at sunset at Zion

The trail follows the river and there are many spots with river access that provide a variety of views of The Watchman.

sunset along the Pa'rus trail at Zion

Take time to explore the area and look for different ways to photograph the landscape!

deer along the Pa'rus Trail at zion national park

You’ll see deer along the trail in the evening so be prepared to photograph wildlife too!

Kolob Terrace Road

Location: Kolob Terrace Road

Kolob Terrace Road is accessed near the town of Virgin, just west of Springdale. This area is amazing in the late afternoon and around sunset.

There’s a nice view of Zion just a short walk along the Left Fork trail. The reflected sun on the landscape is just stunning!

Kolob Terrace at sunset

Keep driving along the road until you get to the Hop Valley Trailhead. You’ll find stunning views of the valley from the ridge that lights up at sunset.

Hop Valley view Kolob Terrace at sunset

We also like to explore the area known as “Hoodoo City”, just east of the Hop Valley Trailhead. You can hike from the trailhead, or park at a pull-off about ½ mile to the east. Hike along the shelf above the valley until you find a spot to access the hoodoo formations below.

hoodoo city at Zion in Kolob Terrace

This is also a nice location to photograph the hoodoos with the night sky!

BUY AT AMAZON: Zion National Park Guides and Maps

Zion national park guides and maps

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:

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