Five of My Most Memorable Sunrises

I don’t think anyone has ever called me a ‘morning’ person. So as a photographer, you could imagine that sunrise photography has historically been a bit harder for me. But without even realizing it, I have started photographing an increasing amount of sunrises which is something that I’m actually proud of myself for achieving. Below are a few of my personal favorites. So here are five of my most memorable sunrises and some short stories behind them.


1. Acadia National Park

It was still dark as I got into my car to drive around Acadia National Park one last time. I only had a few hours left before I had to leave and wanted to catch one more sunrise. So with no real destination in mind, I just started driving along the coast. I stopped at a few places along the way but the last destination I found myself at was Jordan Lake. There were only a few people as I walked up, a stark contrast to the crowds from a couple days ago. Eventually, I found a nice spot along the lakes edge and watched the last bit of the sunrise. Afterwards, I walked back to my car and left as quietly as I entered.

2. Minnesota North Shore

Exploring the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota is always a fun experience. At the tail end of winter, not far from where I was staying for the night, was this stunning cliff face called, Palisade Head. I got up before dawn and hiked the short but icy road up to the cliff. I was sitting there alone along the cliff edge listening to the wind and birds waiting for the sun to rise. As it rose, the rocks turned a beautiful shade of red and the snow became purple. I took my photos, then set my camera down and watched as the colors faded and became normal.

3. Rocky Mountain National Park

I wearily crawled out of my tent for my last sunrise at Rocky Mountain National Park. The elk in the area had kept me up for another night with their bugling; it was the middle of their mating season. I got in my car and drove the short way towards Moraine Valley. I had previously scouted this area and knew I wanted to get a sunrise here after I had previously seen the alpenglow. I didn’t have a specific spot picked out but I knew that I wanted to incorporate the creek into the photo somehow. Luckily, I found a spot pretty easily with plenty of time to spare, which is a rarity for me especially during sunrises. Goes to show how well prudent planning and having a 500 pound animal as a wake up call helps make life easier. Over the years, I have taken many more sunrise photos but this one has always remained one of my favorites.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

Photographing sunrises are hard for me, simply because it goes against my love to sleep. But this was my first national park sunrise in awhile and I was really feeling itchy to photograph one. Luckily the sunrise at Bryce Canyon National Park turned out to be everything I needed and more. It was still dark as we pulled into the empty parking lot at the Inspiration Point Overlook. We had left from Zion in the middle of the night and drove through the dark Utah roads in an effort to beat the sun. I was so excited, I practically skipped to the overlook. But as I setup my camera gear and started photographing I had to remind myself to slow it all down and take in the moment. It’s a promise I made myself years ago, that for all these moments I’m lucky enough to see I need to take a moment for myself and remove it from the camera. Take it in with my own eyes and not just look at it through my cameras screen or viewfinder.

5. Grand Canyon National Park

I remember it being cold when I first woke up in my tent. Colder then I thought it would be at Grand Canyon National Park. Sunrises are always a little harder for me to photograph simply because I’m not a ‘morning person’ and I don’t always make it to my planned spots (due to me not getting out of my sleeping bag in time). Luckily though, that wasn’t the case this particular morning because as we managed to pull ourselves out of the tent and drive the short distance to Mather Point Overlook, we were treated to one of the most colorful sunrises I’ve ever had the pleasure of photographing.