Photographing The Zion Narrows

The Narrows is one of the best canyon hikes in the world and it is an amazing place to experience and photograph. The sandstone walls change color with reflected light from the canyon opening creating surreal images.

Hiking In The Narrows, Zion National Park_

Photographing in the narrows can be challenging since you are hiking up the Virgin River on slippery rocks against the current. Throughout the hike, the water is less than knee-deep, but sometimes the water can come up to your waist. For the best photo ops take the Bottom-Up trail all the way up to section called Wall Street. This will take around 3-4 hours from the parking lot ofTemple of Sinawava.

During summer time, you will have the best weather conditions, however, this also means a lot of people. Best time to go is very early if you don’t want people in your pictures. Usually, the canyon formations are well lit for only a couple of hours when the sun is very high up. It is best to find these contrasting colors on the walls or look for the walls that the light is reflecting. For long exposures, you need to have a very sturdy tripod with you because the current in the river is very strong. Use river rocks for foreground elements, show just a little or none of the sky because the direct sunlight can overpower your image, get very low with your tripod and try to shoot from the middle of the river as well.

Be prepared, be safe, have the right clothes and shoes and enjoy this amazing adventure.

Useful Tips:

* Go early to escape the crowds

* Rent or buy a waterproof backpack (I saw a guy slipping in the river and his backpack got wet all the way with his camera equipment in it)

* Make sure you have sturdy water shoes. You will be hiking in water for a while and the rocks are slippery

* Tripod is a must since the canyon is lit in very low light and you would want to take few long exposure shots

* Go light as light as you can since you will be hiking for a long time

* Use a wide angle lens in order to capture the whole canyon walls

* Make sure you have few snacks to fuel up and water to keep hydrated* Use human figures in your shots to show scale of the canyons

* Use a polarizer

PS. There are couple places in Springdale where you can rent the waterproof gear (

PPS. Bottom-Up trail does not need permit

Recommended Pack List For The Narrows

  • Wetsuit or pants (especially for winter season), during summer you will not need these items.
  • Neoprene socks
  • Waterproof shoes
  • Walking stick
  • Waterproof backpack to keep your camera gear safe
  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Layered clothes


This entry was posted in Photography, Travel.

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