Sunrise Photography in the Zion Backcountry

hiking in Zion National Park, Utah

Hiker walks up a slickrock pool as first light hits cliffs above, Zion National Park, Utah

The first week of November is usually my favorite week to be in Zion Canyon in Zion National Park for the peak of fall colors.  There are many other photographers who like this week as well.  I saw more tripods in Zion last week than ever before!  Trouble is, few (to my advantage) venture very far from the road.   On our way up to the east end above the tunnel, we made a quick pit stop at the Human History Museum (the old visitor center.)  Already there were some 20 vehicles parked and 30 shooters lined up to catch first light on the West Temple and the Towers of the Virgin.  This is probably the most popular sunrise spot in the park.  While you can get some very good shots from here and other roadside pullouts, Zion offers equally as outstanding off road and off trail photo ops at sunrise and sunset.   All ya gotta do is get up early and hoof it a little bit with your headlamp.

This year the colors were well past their peak during this time.  Time to adjust your thinking and “shoot what is happening.”  Recent rains and an approaching cold front told me to get up early and catch a colorful sunrise and reflections in slickrock pools.  We scouted one of our  “go to” canyons on the eastern end of the park the day before.   Sure enough, plenty of water in the pools – except this morning they were frozen!   OK, I had to break up the ice a bit with my tripod before I managed to catch Lauri hiking as first light hit the cliffs on the north side of the park road.  A little pop with an off-camera speedlight makes the shot.  In ten minutes it was over.  Light was ho-hum the rest of the day.

fall colors in Zion National Park

The Virgin River and The Watchman in afternoon light with waning fall colors, Zion National Park, Utah.

One Response to “Sunrise Photography in the Zion Backcountry”

  1. Tammy Andie says:

    Love the fact that even though the fall colors were gone, you managed to give a sense of fall with the yellow colors throughout the image. I’m always attracted to a yellow/blue combo in a scene. Great work!

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