Watchman Milky Way

July provides some of the very best nights of the year for Milky Way photography in Zion


#1 - Zion night photography tour

This is the time of the year that you want to be here for Milky Way photography (along with June) in Zion. The Milky Way rises above some of Zion’s most iconic cliff formations which are receiving illumination from the nearby town of Springdale. The ambient light from town hits the cliffs, exposing them perfectly to showcase the detail and color in the cliffs with a glorious and explosive Milky Way lingering right on top of them. It’s not quite enough light to “pollute” the night sky, but just enough to showcase the dramatic cliffs of Zion.

#2 - Zion half-day sunset tour

The monsoon brings dramatic and active skies. Dark clouds, puffy clouds, blue sky, red rock… rainbows? Yep, solid possibility. This is the best season for dramatic light at sunset. Clouds move quickly, with light and shadow painting the landscape right before your eyes. The light that we get at sunset during this time of the year is the stuff that every photographer wants.

#3 - Half-day secret slot canyon tour

With visitation in full-swing in the parks, our slot canyon tours are a great way to escape the crowds and have an intimate, quiet experience in a wilderness setting. Many slot canyons that you visit will either be packed with crowds, or you will have to hike miles through desert sand. Not with our canyons. Both of our canyons offer easy access via 4x4 driving on some exciting roads with minimal to no crowds. Don’t worry, we use our capable vehicles, and we’re pros at driving in these environments. Because morning skies start clear until mid-day, along with the sun being high in the sky, these are the ideal conditions for slot canyon photography. Unlike our full-day slot canyon option, this tour is not at all adventurous and requires no fitness ability. While we are in a time of the year that can produce flash floods, we are very conservative with our decision making as to when to leave a canyon in the event of imposing weather. Safety is our priority, and because we are well seasoned desert folk, we will calculate the risks and will make the appropriate decisions to keep us all safe.

Useful information from a locals perspective if you’re visiting in the month of July

There is a major climate shift that happens in July, which is nothing short of brilliance. The arrival of monsoon season. All of June and the first 2 weeks of July are generally clear and hot every day. Towards mid-month (give or take a week) monsoonal weather patterns develop which bring moisture to the area. Mornings start off totally clear, and towards noon, puffy white clouds begin to form. As the day progresses clouds grow in size and develop into powerful thunderstorms. These storms are typically very isolated, hard to predict, and drop intense rain quickly.

Photographically, these storm systems provide ideal conditions for the potential of very dramatic sunsets. And because storms clear out after sunset, we’re ready to roll for the top-tier date range for Milky Way photography in Zion.


The first half of the month is typically clear and sunny every day. Once the monsoon has arrived mid-month things change. Mornings have clear skies, and mid-day clouds will start to develop and grow larger throughout the day. Almost daily during the monsoon there is at least a chance of thunderstorms. Where they will occur is any meteorologists guess. Certain days do have higher odds than others. Keeping an eye on the forecast is very important, especially if you are visiting any slot canyons, or the Narrows hike during your trip. All slot canyons, including the Narrows are at risk for flash flooding. Flash floods occur when heavy rains falls. With all of that water needing to find the path of least resistance to go down hill, water drainages feed into each other eventually reaching a canyon. These floods come in quickly and are extremely dangerous. If you are hiking the narrows during your trip, we highly recommend renting your gear with Zion Adventure Company. They are by far the best in town for helping people prepare to safely hike the narrows. The provide an orientation video outlining risks and the necessary precautions you need to take for the hike.

Zion National Park average high/low temperature: 100/69

Bryce National Park average high/low temperature: 80/48