Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon at Sunrise, Sunset

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I don't know what other people call this formation at Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon, but I call it the Skyline. Beautiful with the dawn backlighting.

We got up an hour before sunrise to drive to Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon National Park. Although we got there 45 minutes before scheduled dawn, a couple of photographers were already there and had occupied the highest vantage point. That was alright with us, because we'd been there the day before and scouted out a location further down the rim trail which, I think, made a better composition. It was just a short walk from the parking lot along the rim trail to get a spectacular view of the hoodoos, as these rock formations are called.

I made about 50 exposures at various levels as the sun rose behind the canyon and began to illuminate the tops of the pillars. But as I was thinking of packing up, Kris pointed out the hoodoo formation to the northeast, that was just being backlit by the sun coming over the rim. Until just that moment, it had been in the rim's shadow, and just another dull blob in front of the canyon wall.

But when the sun got high enough, the rock formations began to glow as if the power had just been turned on in an ancient translucent city. Thanks to Kris's sharp eye trained on a portion of the canyon we'd been ignoring, I got to make this shot.

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Dawn is different than sunset. And often prettier.

In the Odyssey, Homer refers to the “rosy fingered dawn” innumerable times. His epithet was borrowed by one of the most eloquent and entertaining writers about the American Southwest, Edward Abbey, in his book The Monkey Wrench Gang. I'm betting it was dawns like this one at Inspiration Point that inspired them both.

We got to Inspiration Point at Bryce Canyon an hour before dawn in order to set up the tripod and choose the composition we wanted before nature started putting on her light show. I made lots of exposures beginning from the time the sun started peeking over the canyon rim. This was the favorite. Inspiration Point, indeed.

And, from the evening before, here's Inspiration Point at sunset.

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Same place, different light

We drove to Inspiration Point pretty much as soon as we got here from Zion National Park late in the afternoon. Unfortunately we were a little late as the sun was already beginning to cast the shadow of the rim over the valley below. Nevertheless the colors were bright, and the view is as stunning as any I've ever seen.

These shots were all from the first time we visited Bryce Canyon National Park. I'm planning on going back. There are many more shots to be made.

You can see a list here of all the United States National Parks, with links to our stories about the ones we've visited.

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12 thoughts on “Inspiration Point, Bryce Canyon at Sunrise, Sunset”

  1. We “love” Bryce and Zion. They are both so spectacular it’s just hard to describe, isn’t it?! This photo is beautiful. When we were in the park the HooDoo’s were capped with snow, just incredible. I think everyone needs to experience both Zion and Bryce at least once, don’t you agree?!

  2. Thank you Marilyn. To me the mystery of Bryce is in the geology. One of these days I’m going to have to take a geology course so I can begin to understand what formed this incredible landscape.

  3. Beautiful photo! This is on my bucket list, now that I’m retired. Is the hiking relatively moderate? Hoping to see this in fall, as the crowds die down from the area. Thanks for sharing your travels and these inspiring photos!

    • The hiking here is not too bad, but if you go down into the valley, the climbs back out are a little steep. There are several paths, so if you’re not as fit as you’d like to be (and I’m certainly not) you can choose the easier paths. Ask at the visitor center which hikes would be best for you. Have a great time, and be sure to take plenty of water and wear a hat. It’s really hot in the summer.


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