Sunrise to Sunset: Arches National Park

We stepped out of the car during the morning blue hour and the Three Gossips greeted us. It was quiet and the morning air barely stirred. We got back late from Dead Horse Point after staying to enjoy the sunset, and we were up very early the next morning in order to be at Arches National Park before sunrise. We wanted to catch that soft early morning light and also enjoy the park before it filled up.

The moments before sunrise are over quickly and then the sun drenches rocks with light, making them turn orange and red. Time and time again, I just stand there in awe.

Our next port of call was the Devil’s Garden trailhead, but we stopped for a few minutes to walk back to Sand Dune Arch, one unknown to me and one I didn’t see last year. It was quiet in the canyon and walking on sand reminded me of the Antelope Slot Canyons. We spoke in whispers, almost as if we were afraid to disturb the high rocks surrounding us. Once again, I realized there is still much more to discover within the park.

At the Devils Garden trailhead I was pleasantly surprised that there weren’t as many cars as I had expected. We laced up our boots, filled our bottles with water and headed off. The famous Landscape Arch, which seems to get thinner every time I look at it, is where most people turn back.

We pushed on since we were on our way to see Double O Arch. The hike there is mostly under the hot desert sun and the views are spectacular. With the unexpected greenery, it’s easy to understand why the area is called Devils Garden.

The fun thing about Double O Arch is, you know it’s there, but you don’t see it until you’re standing right in front of it. Plus, the good view is actually from the back which means you have to climb through it and up the other side to actually be able to fully enjoy it.

By then it was extremely hot although it was still relatively early in the morning. We were glad we had gotten such an early start, because we sure didn’t want to be among the many people hiking towards us. It would only get hotter as the day wore on.

We then actually left the park and returned to our hotel room for an afternoon siesta. This was a wise choice not only because it was the hottest part of the day, but because we were heading back into the park in the late afternoon. The iconic Delicate Arch was the must-see of the day. Again, there were far less people than I expected. It was a very hot hike up the slab of rock. We took it slowly, drank a lot of water and were rewarded.

Quite a few people actually came towards us on our way down. These were the sunset peepers. I’m sure being at Delicate Arch at sunset is a sight to behold, but we had other plans. Back in our car, we headed towards the Windows Section of the park. The later it got, the softer the light became. But at the same time, the rocks shone brightly in orange, ocher and vermillion.

We sat beneath the North Window along with several others, enjoying our picnic dinner an watching the sun set. Just like the day before at Dead Horse Point, there was  a sense of calm. Everyone talked in quiet voices and sat there being in the moment. This time we stayed until the sun had fully set and then made our way back to the car to retrieve our tripods. This was the reason we were were still there. Earlier in the day, we had scouted out where we wanted to be to take pictures of the night sky.


In our lit up society, it’s hard to find a spot that is still truly dark and where it is possible to not only see the stars, but also to see the Milky Way in all it’s glory. Arches is one of those places. It was a beautiful night as we set up our tripods and cameras and tried to see what we’d come up with.

10 Replies to “Sunrise to Sunset: Arches National Park”

  1. Your photos of Arches are spectacular. You were so wise to go at sunrise and sunset. The angle of the light at those times really brings out the three dimensional aspects of these amazing formations. And, I really like your night shots of the Milky Way. You even managed to capture a meteor!

    1. Thanks! There are still plenty of hidden gems to discover in Arches National Park.

  2. Aunt Gail says: Reply

    Your photos are gorgeous and it makes me want to go back even more! It also brings back wonderful memories of our time together there and how seeing those amazing formations made me feel. I know that photos are wonderful but seeing in person is a whole different ballgame. Spectacular!!!!!

    1. Our time there together was wonderful, and I’d love to go back and discover more of this amazing place.

  3. Aunt Gail says: Reply

    I just looked at your photos again, taking time to study each one and we have to go back. Maybe in a cooler time of year. I don’t know why I’m so attracted to these beautiful rock formations and colors, but they just call to me. Sort of like years ago when I was in Sedona, I felt such a spiritual presence. I can’t wait to see more of your trip.

    1. I totally agree with you! There is something very special about this landscape, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I’d also love to return to Capitol Reef.

  4. Cindy Stierhoff says: Reply

    So many beautiful places captured for us all to see, thank you.

    1. I’m glad you’re enjoying my photographs!

  5. Oh Juliana, these photos are so good. I’ve been to many, not all of Utah’s parks throughout my life, and I have photo books that don’t hold a candle to what you’ve done. The night photos are beautiful…more added to my ipad wallpaper…I have to change it often and it almost ALWAYS has your pictures/art on the longest, with repeat visits. Thank you! Utah’s Director of Tourism should hire you.

    1. Thank you for your lovely words, and I’m happy my photos bring you joy.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.