Death Valley Whirled To Zion: Day 5 Wandering Canyons

sunrise photography canyon overlook zion national park
A rare moment has fog fills the valley floor looking down from Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion National Park.

As the day breaks in Zion it is off to the Human History Museum to first get a look at how things are looking for sunrise. The sky is flat in color with no clouds but there is an interesting mist and fog coming off the ground. Realizing this could make a unique view from above then alternatively there should be a good perspective at Canyon Overlook. On the way out to the overlook I pass a couple of morning people out for a hike to great the daybreak. Once at Canyon Overlook there is is a group of three photographers one appears to be a local guide and photography instructor doing a tour so I admittedly eavesdrop and hear him talking about how rare it is to see the canyon fill with mist and I can tell it looks like he’d rather be taking photographs instead of instructing them and take that as sign that this is the right place at the right time.

sunrise photography print zion national park
The sun starts to shine on the canyon walls illuminating their color in Zion National Park.. Canyon Mist can be purchased as print at my store
by clicking the link BUY PHOTO

The mist is slowly starting to fill the valley floor of the canyon below, you can still see the canyon road underneath but if the mist thickens then it may cover the entire view below which will make for an interesting rare moment and image. The sun is slow to rise and there is some time to focus on the positioning of initial compositions. Here the sun comes up behind you so that when the light hits the canyon walls it will create a glow on the rocks and shadows throughout the valley. There is also some small evidence of snowfall still remaining and it makes for additional interest to the scene. After taking a few images focusing on the sunrises first impact I move around a bit to get a few different angles and make the most of the situation. Eventually the valley has become a full sheet of white fluffy cotton like mist that completely obscurers the view below and makes for an interesting photograph.

misty sunrise in zion national park
There is a diversity of spots to take in the view at Canyon Overlook
misty morning photography zion national park
Some trees line a ridge along a cliff wall in Zion National Park.

After the light becomes too harsh here and capturing enough images to be happy with its time to head back down towards the main canyon. On the drive down into the canyon the view is entirely different has the sun is beginning to break through the mist. The light creeps through at angles and it starts to illuminate different areas amongst the cliffs giving the mist/fog a glow and highlighting various areas amongst the steep red walled landscape.

photograph misty morning zion utah
Some brightly lit mist dances behind a ridge inside the canyon walls on a crisp winter morning.
photography print foggy morning zion utah
Has the sunlight heats up the canyon and starts to pull back the mist it revels the unique features of Zion National Park. Emerging can be purchased as a fine art print by following the link BUY PHOTO
photography print cotton wood tree zion utah
A cottonwood tree stands out in the daylight in front of a shadow filled canyon wall. Stand Alone can be purchased online by clicking the link BUY PHOTO

After the sun warms the air enough to dissipate the fog from the environment it is time for a trip through the main canyon. In winter you have the opportunity to actually drive the main road through and not rely on the shuttle bus. It is a good time to take advantage of this opportunity to drive the main road has it is nice to scout out the area for some potential imagery for future journeys. Noticing that the light is still filling in here I take a stroll along the river and look for some possibilities for reflective light shining in the water. After a short hike of not having much luck when noticing in the distance a bare cottonwood tree is being accented by some side light against a dark canyon wall, this makes for an image I really end up enjoying.

After the sun became too harsh it is a good time to head down into town to regroup, eat and make plans for the remainder of the day. Once in town I check the weather and see that it is going to be even colder tonight and windier. Out of curiosity and knowing there is an abundance of hotels here theres a chance for some good offseason deals and sure enough there is a room for the night with breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express for $30 more than the campground. In need of a shower and in the back of mind knowing I have a flight tomorrow consider myself sold and book the room.

creek bed photography zion national park
Exploring the east side canyons in Zion National Park.

In the afternoon once getting squared away its off to explore some of my favorite areas of the park, the east side canyons. First up is the many pools trail, in the past I’ve tired to find this trail and didn’t have any luck this time thanks to the usage of apps I was able find the trail. There is a chance of finding some cool reflective light in some of the water pools so this is where the intention lies. After hiking for about 45 minutes on this really cool trail there is not much in the way of the oil slick reflections I’m looking for but there is some really nice views and daytime compositions here that make for a few fun images.

hiking photo zion national park
The fresh Utah canyon air and scenery makes for great exploration.

Eventually deciding to make a move back to the car as there is one other canyon trail I’m looking to explore before the sun fades for the day. After about thirty minutes into the hike there is an eventual point where theres a pretty good sized cliff like rock to scale, with my camera gear and time constraints turning back is the wiser option and just make mental notes for my return trip here in the fall.

photograph many pools trail zion utah
Looking down the pool while hiking in Zion National Park.
sunset photo against red rock canyon wall
The last of the afternoon light providing both color and shade to the interior canyon walls.

Once driving back down towards the main part of the park the sun is beginning to set and as it does the rocky cliffs take on a nice glow after absorbing the suns heat all day. There is no clouds in the sky so instead of focusing on a sunset photograph it is a better option to focus on the aspects of the cliffs glowing in the light. Eventually making it back to where I started the day at the Human History Museum and the last image of the day is of the rock wall of The Watchman, it was a good day in Zion National Park.

sunset photography print zion national park
There is something about that last evenings glow that makes the color of the cliffs take on so much character in Zion National Park. Warm Glow prints can be purchased online by using the link BUY PHOTO
sunset photography the watchman zion
The last light reflecting off The Watchman Zion National Park.

To purchase Limited Edition Fine Art Prints of national parks photography and award winning ocean imagery visit my website at

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