3 Top Places to Shoot in Zion National Park

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When it’s peak season in Zion National Park, it can be tricky to move through the crowds to get where you want to go. Plan ahead with these location suggestions from Ken Hubbard, field services manager for Tamron, so you can optimize your visit to have the most time shooting as possible. Want more suggestions on making the most of your photo trips? Check out our new online Night Sky Photography course, co-led by Hubbard and professional photographer André Costantini.

1. Checkerboard Mesa

Checkerboard Mesa in Zion National Park

Checkerboard Mesa

The Milky Way over Zion National Park

Milky Way over Origami Rock in Checkerboard Mesa

For sunrise shots, you want to be on the east side of the Zion–Mt. Carmel Tunnel, Hubbard says. “There are so many great pullouts on the eastern side,” he says. He suggests starting at Checkerboard Mesa, where the cliff is scored with cross-hatched lines. Explore the pullouts near there to find a spot you like and wait for the sun.

Come here for night sky shots, too, Hubbard suggests. Even though there’s a bit of light pollution from the town of Springdale, Utah, you can still see the Milky Way with your naked eyes. “The light pollution from Springdale actually adds to the effect,” Hubbard says, as it backlights the trees.

2. Junction Bridge

Sun setting on the Watchman and Virgin River in Zion National Park

Sun setting on the Watchman and Virgin River

At sunset, head to Junction Bridge, which crosses the Virgin River and faces south toward Springdale and the Watchman, a stunning red-rock mountain. “If conditions are right, the setting sun will hit the Watchman and throw some really long light on it,” Hubbard says.

3. Observation Point

Observation Point in Zion National Park

Observation Point

Stars over Zion National Park

If you’re up for a long hike, take the East Rim trail to Observation Point, about 8.6 miles out and back. “Observation Point offers the best view of the entire valley, all the way into Springdale,” Hubbard says, and it’s a great spot to shoot sunset.

Download a park map.

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Photographer Ken Hubbard

Photographer Ken Hubbard

Ken Hubbard is the field services manager for Tamron. His portrait and landscape work has appeared in galleries nationwide and he teaches enthusiasts how to take better photos at workshops across the country.

Want to improve your game on starry nights? Sign up for our online, 9-part Night Sky Photography course, taught at your own pace by professional photographers André Costantini and Ken Hubbard.