Saturday, January 9, 2016

Sunrise, Sunset and Starry Sky at Zion and Bryce Canyons

While enjoying the mountains, canyons, cliffs, hoodoos, spires, blue sky and white snow, we also looked up heavens for inspirations  ... Sunset, Sunrise and Stars in the Sky.

The best place to watch sunset at Zion is at Watchman trail. The best place to watch sunrise at Bryce Canyon is Sunrise point. Since Bryce Canyon boasts the darkest sky in America  - far away from light pollution, and one can see 7500 stars on a moonless night compared to 2500 stars from most remote rural areas, no visit to Bryce canyon is complete without star gazing there.

The first day at Zion National Park, we drove along the scenic drive and stopped at viewpoints one by one and hiked some short trails. In the late afternoon, we were behind schedule for the hike on the watchman trail to watch the sunset. It was 5:10pm when we arrived at the trail head. The sun was low in the sky, and our shadows got longer with every passing minute. I noticed that our shadows on the trail side trees were close to our real sizes. So I asked the whole family for a group picture of shadows at  next tree (first picture below). I was the one on the left hand side, with only one leg in the shadow, Nicholas was half squatting, and his mom facing him from right,  Justin stood tall on the right. I did not realize that I dropped a glove while taking the picture until later, I had to call out to alert the family. The boys were far ahead of Lily when I caught up with her at the intersection of the trail and a service road in the park. The hue of sunlight started to change and our shadows were really long. As I took another picture of shadows, Lily gave a peck on my cheek. How lovely!

We got only to a half way point on the trail when the Sun set. It got really dark quickly in the mountain after sunset. Soon afterwards, we could barely see the trail on the way back but the silhouette of the trees at twilight was quite impressive. 


on the Watchman trail during Sunset


silhouette at twilight
Based on weather condition, we went to watch sunrise at Bryce Canyon on December 31, 2015. The sunrise was around 7:43am that day, so we got up around 6:30am, washed and had breakfast before heading to Sunrise point at Bryce Canyon. It was windy and cold (0 F) at this high altitude (8000ft) park, our fingers froze as we tried to take pictures! Th sky was blue, the snow was white, the air was crisply freezing  and clear. I actually felt the warmth of the sun seeing its light on the snow. It was worth the hassle to witness the grandeur of sunrise at Bryce canyon.

Bryce Canyon  is the "last grand sanctuary of natural darkness".  Star gazing is a must to true nature lover. We went into the park after dinner on New Year's eve to watch stars. we had never seen the sky full of stars! Milky way was easily observed. As our eyes adjusted to the natural darkness, we could move around with only the light from the stars! We stayed on the east rim of Bryce Canyon for about 10 minutes despite bone chilling cold. It was memorizing. 

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon

warm sunlight

Rising Sun over Bryce Canyon
Starry Sky over Bryce Canyon


1. Justin took a couple of decent starry sky pictures without tripod! He placed his camera on the top of the car.
2. Other great starry sky I observed include the sky over Big Bend, the starry sky over Yosemite, and the night sky over White Sand National Monument.

No comments:

Post a Comment