A Photographer’s Guide to Zion National Park

A Photographer’s Guide to Zion National Park

No matter what time of year, it’s great to get outside and soak in some of America’s incredible sites. Want to go somewhere with absolutely breathtaking views? Try Zion National Park, Utah’s first national park!

On a recent road trip from Las Vegas, NV to Salt Lake City, UT, I took a short hike in Zion National Park. Full of massive sandstone cliffs, Zion was a sight to behold – and it reminded me just how small we all are.

If you’re out west, you won’t regret a trip to Zion. Here’s what I recommend for snapping incredible shots:

Want to avoid crowds? Plan accordingly.

Zion is a pretty popular park – and during its peak months, it can see a lot of crowds. If you want to avoid having strangers in your snaps, go during one of the off-peak months, which is November-March. I went in January and, while I definitely wasn’t alone on the trail, I felt like I could take my time on the hike and get some uninterrupted shooting time.

Think through how you’ll pack.

Whether you’re hiking or walking along one of Zion’s many trails, you’ll want to think through how you want to carry your gear. If it’s a short, casual trail, you can probably just hold in by hand or with the shoulder strap. If you’re planning on some more tedious hikes, it’s worth looking into something more stable, like a clip to throw on your belt or backpack or even a hands-free harness.

Research the trails.

There are a ton of trails at Zion with varying difficulty levels. I did the Canyon Overlook Trail, which is a 1-mile hike. You can drive right up to the trailhead; it’s just past the Mount Carmel Tunnel. Once you reach the top of the trail, there’s a huge area where you can get that famous Zion picture.

Bring the right lenses!

As I was hiking up the Canyon Overlook Trail, I noticed a few mountain goats just chilling on the side of the mountain – it was unreal! Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lens bigger than 200mm with me, so you have the squint to see the mountain goats in the above picture.

Take note of the differing colors.

One of the marvel’s of Zion is how many different types of landscapes it features. You’ll see red rocks paired up with yellow and orange sandstone under a bright, blue sky. The changing landscapes are part of what makes Zion particularly unique, so make sure you capture them!

Don’t be afraid to stop and take a moment.

The Canyon Overlook Trail has a few moments when it’s single-file only. Initially, I felt pressure to keep moving so as to not hold anyone up behind me. But, eventually I realized, this is my experience, too! So while you move, take a moment and stop at the places that surprise you.

Have you been to Zion National Park? Tell us about your experience in the comments!

8 Comments

  1. What are some of the best places to shoot? I will be there in a week and a half.

     
    • Hi Merle! I went to the Canyon Overlook Trail and it had some amazing views. On the ground, The Narrows is another short hike in the river. Have fun on your trip; Zion is amazing!

       
  2. Hal Schmerer

    Part of the beauty of Zion is the approach is as beautiful as the park itself. I have some wonderful pictures of the mountain scenery driving to the park before actually getting there showing the curving road framed by the cliffs.

     
  3. If you have time, visit Bryce Canyon also- a
    good hike and amazing views!

     
  4. don’t miss the Narrows, rent some waders. they are avaialble from several stores close by, and hike up the
    river as far as you have time to get back. pack water and snacks so you can stop along the way, and
    enjoy the views. check the weather, as you don’t want to caught in the canyon during a rain storm.
    Don’t forget the camer and, a zip lock bag in case you end up in the water.
    Enjoy, it’s the best.

     

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