Sunrise at Temple of the Virgins

Sunrise at Temple of the Virgins

This story begins in November of 2012, when a fellow photographer and great friend indicated he was going to be doing a camping trip in April of 2013 in a variety of locations in southern Utah.

Over time, it came to be that we would meet up for five days of camping, camaraderie and photography. We started out planning to shoot slot canyons, but had to change the plan due to pending weather. After reviewing our options and shooting pictures in Bryce Canyon N.P., we headed to Zion National Park.

Our first day there set up camp then set out to enjoy a hike up to shoot The Watchman in sun and 70 degree temperatures. After returning to camp, we discussed the plan for the morning while eating dinner.

The next morning, we were up early to catch sunrise at Canyon Overlook. I learned a valuable lesson, despite years of photography in my pocket: “do not put the gear away until well after you think you should be done!”  This lesson would serve its’ purpose well in 24 hrs.

The rest of the morning we spent time photographing a few neat locations within the park. We ate lunch in Springdale and the rains came. We considered our options, choosing to ride the bus up to Zion Lodge, hoping the rain would stop, so we could photograph at Emerald Pools.

While eating dinner back at camp, we discussed locations and chose to shoot Temple of the Virgins.

We arrived at the Zion Human History Museum a little before morning twilight. There were a handful of vehicles in the lot already. Much to our surprise, the people who were there had opted to stay on the patio to observe sunrise. We said our hello’s and continued on our way out to a spot in the field directly behind the Human History Museum.

Morning twilight passed and our thoughts of a grand sunrise were looking pretty slim. I thought back to the lesson of the prior day and kept my gear ready and set to shoot sunrise. Shortly before sunrise, the clouds broke just enough to give us one of the most spectacular sunrises I have been fortunate enough to photograph.

Sunrise at Temple of the Virgins was a pure success! My trip had come to an end, though I knew that would return to capture more from this amazing National Park.


  1. Wilderness Dave says:

    The best part about this story is that I was hiking and shooting in Zion only days before your trip! I believe I was literally driving out of the park as you guys were driving in.

    The mornings prior to your visit were a little harsh, not much for clouds and the sunrises didn’t offer much. Glad you waited this one out, great shot of the Temple.

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