East Zion Sunrise

Dawn over the East Temple and Bridge Mountain, Zion National Park, Utah

No part of Zion is anything short of wonderful, but for me the east entrance area has always been the greatest delight. The unfolding views as you drive west of colorful sandstone domes, patterned cliffs and bonsai ponderosas make my heart leap, and the anticipation of the tunnel and subconscious loom of the main gorge are almost more exciting than Zion Canyon itself. And it’s my kind of country, mostly lacking in official trails, but with every roadside turnout promising a hidden treasure in waiting.

Dawn clouds above the East Temple, Zion National Park, Utah

I will say to anyone in search of shooting tips for this area: you have to scout it out. To see the best of the area requires getting off the road, and there aren’t really established overlooks or any classic spots; you have to choose your own adventure. Also, it’s a sunrise area, which always makes matters a bit trickier. Though I expect there are also plenty of good shots to be had late in the day, it’s more logical to be up there in the morning, and the terrain is not very friendly to improvising in the dark. I’m pretty used to winging it in unfamiliar locations before sunrise, but when I tried it off the east entrance road my luck failed me. Fortunately, a second attempt with a specific place in mind yielded better results.

Sunrise on the East Temple, Zion National Park, Utah

This was our last morning in Zion, and a very satisfactory end to an excellent trip!

Sunrise on Bridge Mountain and the sandstone domes of the east entrance road, Zion National Park, Utah

4 thoughts on “East Zion Sunrise

  1. Wonderful images, Jackson, and I agree with you about the east side. It’s a place that I’m just beginning to learn the beauty of. My other favorite recent Zion discovery is the so-called “high country” near the Northgate Peaks.

    I really like the white Navajo Sandstone in the predawn glow, but my favorite image in this set is the third one, with the light just beginning to kiss that wonderful sandstone wonderland.

    • Thanks Greg! It’s pretty striking how in an “over-photographed” park like Zion, there are a ton of very under-photographed areas. “Over-photographed” in most parks doesn’t seem to extend beyond a few paved highway turnouts (Subway’s a notable exception), and that’s a heartening thought!

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