If you’re planning a hiking trip that gives you all the sights and glory of the world’s natural beauties, then Moab is a great choice. The natural beauty of its arches, rivers, and rock formations makes for some great spots to watch the sunrise.
Many people have trouble finding a good location to spot the sunrise which leaves visitors disappointed for not being able to capture one of the most breathtaking sights of Utah. Having a good idea beforehand of where the best sunrise spots are can help plan your trip accordingly and make sure you catch a glimpse of the red sun rising over Utah’s glorious arches.
In this post, we’re going to highlight some of the best sunrise spots to make your trip to Moab memorable. But before you go on exploring the best sunrise spots in Utah, we recommend getting a headlamp and hiking boots to navigate those dark rocky loop trails across the canyons.
Now, let’s get to it…
Where to Find the Best Sunrise in Moab?
There are two main locations to get the best sunrise and sunset locations in Moab, Utah. These are:
- Canyonlands National Park
- Arches National Park
Below we discuss these two parks and the sunrise spots they feature in more detail. No matter where you choose to travel, to catch the majestic sun rising over Utah’s arches we advise you get there around 40 minutes before the sunrise begins so you don’t miss it.
Canyonlands National Park
It’s every adventurer’s wish to experience the wilderness of Canyonlands endless canyons and buttes. Divided by the Colorado River, the Canyonlands national park features four main areas:
- Island in the Sky
- The Maze
- The Needles
- Combination of the Green River and Colorado River.
The diverse landscape partnered with the desert atmosphere makes for great sunrise hikes.
Where to Find the Best Canyonlands National Park Sunrise?
- Mesa Arch
If you’re hiking in Moab, the iconic Mesa arch is a must-see to capture the perfect sunrise. Mesa Arch is the most popular tourist spot and is only a 30-minute hike making it accessible to more people.
The trail lasts for 0.5 miles surrounded by rocks that give you a natural pathway to the top. Once you’re there you’ll be able to see the majestic arch to your right.
We suggest you make your way to the Mesa Arch hours before sunrise as arriving early can help you beat the crowd of people and photographers that are often lined up to take that perfect shot of the golden glow in the underside of the arch.
If you plan to stay after the sun has risen, you can get some beautiful shots of the arch once other people have started to leave. Not only will you get better angles but you’ll also get some pictures of the light bouncing off the edges of the arch.
- Grand View Point
Located in southern Utah on the edge of the Island in the Sky scenic drive is Grand View Point. It’s a 2-mile hike that gives you a magnificent view of the entire landscape throughout. Once you get to the end of the trial, you’ll have the opportunity to unwind and have a drink or snack on top of the paved platform.
This location is an awesome place to catch a glimpse of the sunrise and if you have a drone camera, you can capture a beautiful bird’s eye view of the rocky landscape of Grand Viewpoint.
The Grand Viewpoint is also a great location for catching the sunset and is an ideal spot for nighttime photography.
- Buck Canyon Overlook
Placed on the Grandview Point road is the Buck Canyon overlook, a 200 feet tall paved overlook that gives you a 180-degree view of the Canyon. It’s convenient for visitors as it’s just a short walk from the parking lot and accessible to people traveling in wheelchairs.
This glorious overlook is usually not very crowded and gives you an amazing view of the Canyons Island National Park. You’ll want to reach here for the sunrise as the early morning sun reveals all the fine details of the canyons which make for some memorable photos.
- Green River Overlook
Deep in the southwest, The Green River Overlook gives you a stunning view of the majestic green river – one of the Canyonlands’ two major rivers. The green river is delicately placed between the grand canyons and is 1,300 feet (396m) deep, flowing through the awe-inspiring canyons.
It is one of the best places to see the sunrise and sunset in the Canyonlands. The morning sunlight glisters the green water which is a magical sight on its own.
- Dead Horse Point State Park
Hop on a magical drive through the Dead Horse Point state park and you’ll end up staring in awe at the canyons 2,000 feet below separated by the meandering Colorado river. Alongside the trails, you’ll also be able to see some unique trees, plants, and interesting forms of cacti.
The Dead Horse Point State Park provides a fantastic sunrise spot just a small walk from the parking lot. Head to the west side for some breathtaking views of the red rocks glazed with subtle morning light from the rising sun.
Arches National Park
If you’re in Moab then you’d be visiting Arches National Park. This iconic park is located on the northeast of Canyonlands on top of the Colorado River. It is a desert area made of sandstone formations and a national monument of the U.S.A. which makes it a great spot for visitors to travel and take in the moving sights of the beautiful canyons.
Where to Find the Best Arches National Park Sunrise?
- Devil’s Garden
There are many competitors for the best arches national park sunrise but nothing beats the sights and adventure of the Devil’s Garden Loop Trail. It is a 7.2-mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 11,000 feet that offers you a view of 7 arches along the trail.
The rocky surface of the Devil’s Garden does make it challenging to hike for non-hikers but this means you’ll have the entire view of the breathtaking sunrise all to yourself. We recommend starting about an hour before sunrise to ensure you don’t miss the daybreak.
Your end goal with this hike will be to reach the Landscape Arch and Partition Arch, as the sun rises directly through here giving you a wonderful look at the rising sun while enjoying some rest and a few snacks.
- The Windows
The Windows are a trio of arches that consist of the north and south windows and the turret arch. It’s a popular sunrise spot and is very busy but it has a huge parking lot making it easier to find a spot if you get to the park early.
The north and south windows are connected by the same rock formations and their unique shape also leads to them being known as “spectacles” because they look like a pair of glasses. After parking your car, you walk a 1-mile trail up to the windows to experience some amazing views and the glorious sunrise
The Windows provides a great hiking trail and allows you to experience one of the best Arches National Park Sunrise. But, before you go ahead on walking this track be sure to grab your red headlamp because you’ll be climbing a lot of steps which can be hard to see in the dark.
- Turret Arch Sunrise
The turret arch is a great spot to catch a spectacular Arches National Park sunrise as the sun rises directly through here. It’s a short 0.5-mile walk and is located beside the Windows arches and is the smallest of the trio. It features a turret-shaped rock hill with up-and-down slopes, edges, and gaps.
Once you get on top you’ll look back and stare in awe at the breathtaking view of the Utah landscape. Although smaller than its counterparts, the turret arch gives you a great vantage point to look at the surrounding arches of the North Window, South Window, and Double Arch.
Turret arch provides a beautiful sunrise as the morning light shines a red-orange glow on the arches which makes for some memorable photos. You can also take advantage of the arch and use it as a frame to add a unique and creative touch to your click. Since Turret Arch usually isn’t busy you can ensure a smooth sailing hike across the trail.
- Double Arch Sunrise
The double arch, getting its name from the two arches that share the same sandstone foundation, is located near the windows across the parking lot and is one of the most unique sunrise spots. To get there, you’ll need to walk a short 0.6-mile trail which is highlighted. We recommend getting your hiking boots for this one as the trail can be sandy despite being fairly flat.
The sunrise from underneath the arches looks beautiful and the arches can make for a natural frame to capture stunning photos. We advise waiting until the sun is fully out to take a photo of the double arches as it’ll give you the perfect lighting to capture the fine details.
- Balanced Rock Sunrise
Balanced rock is a popular spot for visitors in the Arches National Park. It is located near the park and features a short 0.3-mile loop trail which gives you a view of many different perspectives throughout your walk.
Its most iconic feature is the humongous rock balanced on top of the rocky hills. You can make your way to the open area in front of the balanced rock structure to get a clear view of the sunrise.
Since Balanced rock is near Delicate Arch, we’ve seen that parking is relatively easier to find here. As many people plan on visiting Delicate Arch you can take your time and enjoy the sunrise and capture beautiful pictures of this geological wonder.
- Delicate Arch Sunrise
Delicate Arch is one of the most iconic arches of the Arches National Park. This natural phenomenon is a famous monument in the U.S. and there’s a high chance you’ve already seen it on many license plates and postcards from Utah. Finding a parking spot near the Delicate Arch trail may be difficult due to its popularity but the hike is worth it and should be on the top of your priority list!
Over here, you’ll be faced with a 3-mile trail to a 480 feet platform which gets steeper as you move upwards. Due to the steepness of the arch, we don’t recommend climbing it during the rainfall season when the surface may be wet.
Crowds are pretty heavy here which makes it hard to find a parking spot even in the pre-sunrise period. So, if you wish to make this hike, we suggest you start at night and get an early start to the Delicate Arch. Of course, it’ll be dark so you’ll need a headlamp and a few snacks to keep yourself energized as it can take around 1-2 hours to get to the top.
Arriving early has its advantages. If you manage to arrive before sunrise you can catch a glimpse of the surrounding viewpoints. Just before dawn, you’ll get to experience the blue hour as it surrounds the sky with its soft blue light giving you a nice soothing vibe. This time can also be an opportunity to capture some spectacular shots just before you see the majestic sunrise.
- La Sal Mountains Viewpoint Sunrise
If you plan on having a relaxing view of the sunrise in Utah without having to hike, then the La Sal Viewpoint is the perfect vantage point. La Sal is located close to the Arches National Park entrance and offers a great view of the La Sal Mountains.
Once you get to the La Sal Viewpoint, you’ll get a nice 360 degrees view of the La Sal Mountains, and other rock formations including the Three Gossips, Courthouse Towers, Sheep Rock, and The Organ. You can also see the Balanced Rock and the Windows from afar making La Sal the perfect place to begin your journey to finding the perfect sunrise.
The view of the rising sun at La Sal Viewpoint extends across the horizon as the Arches below glow in red and orange when the sun reflects on them. This time of the day is a treasure trove for enthusiastic photographers as you can never have enough photos of the beautiful red sun bouncing off the La Sal Mountains.
Best Time to Visit Arches & Canyonlands National Parks Sunrise and Sunset Spots in Utah
Planning your trip allows you to book yourself a hotel room and ensure your visit is a memorable one. Since you’d mostly be interested in the sunrise and sunset of the beautiful Moab arches, your journey is going to be a time-sensitive one which is another important reason to plan your trip and make sure you don’t compromise on the best sunrise and sunset spots.
The best time to visit sunrise and sunset spots in Utah is May to September during the summertime. Around this time the sun usually rises at 6 am and is considered the best time of the year for sightseeing and photography of the Moab area.
Where to Stay for the Best Sunrises in Moab, Utah?
There are no hotels inside the Arches National Park and to ensure you catch the sunrise you need to be located as near the National Parks as possible. The best option is to camp inside the park at Devils Garden Campground which is the only campground located here. The Devils Garden Campground is incredibly crowded during the peak season and may require you to book it 6 months in advance.
As for Canyonlands National Park, you have a wider range of options including the Grand Mesa, Holiday Inn, and Red Cliff 3C just to name a few. Since many modern and affordable hotels are located near Canyonlands park, finding a hotel won’t be very difficult.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where Is the Best Place to See a Sunrise in Moab?
In Canyonlands, we suggest visiting the Island in the Sky to get a bird’s eye view of the most fascinating canyons and desert landscape of Moab. Over here you’ll also come across the Mesa Arch trail which will provide you with the best view of the sunrise.
For Arches National Park, we recommend making your way to the Windows section as this is the highest peak of the park giving you a complete view of all the iconic arches including the south and north window, turret arch, and the Double Arch. Due to its height, it also makes the perfect place to see the sunrise.
If you don’t feel like hiking you can’t go wrong with the La Sal Viewpoint sunrise. This place gives you a 360 degrees view of the park’s landscape and the best view of the sunrise and other various perspectives.
Is Delicate Arch Better at Sunrise or Sunset?
Delicate Arch is better at sunrise as you are less likely to face crowds and experience the beautiful sunrise glow of the rocky landscape. Apart from the photogenic scenery, the soft blue light of the blue hour provides a magical atmosphere to enjoy the nature of Moab in solitude.
Can You Enter Arches National Park Before Sunrise?
Yes, you can enter Arches National Park before sunrise which is around 6 am as the park is typically open 24 hours. However, the opening and closing timings may vary throughout the year so make sure to double-check the park’s timing from the NPS’ official website before visiting.
What is the Entry Fee for Arches National Park?
The entry fee to the Arches National Park may vary depending on your vehicle and time of arrival. For private vehicles, the fee is $30 and for motorcycles, it is $25. There is also a $2 reservation fee if you’re visiting between April and October.
How Much Time Do You Need to See Canyonlands National Park?
If you want to fully explore the best parts of Canyonlands National Park we suggest planning a trip of two days. Most of your first day is going to be spent wandering around the Island in the Sky and hiking across the popular arches. The second day will mostly consist of traveling around the longer trails and overlooks.
How Far Apart are Arches and Canyonlands?
Arches and Canyonlands are about 30 miles apart from each other. It takes only 30-40 minutes to travel from Canyonlands to Arches if you’re traveling by car.