If you plan your hiking trip well you can photograph The Needles and Druid Arch on the same 12 mile round trip excursion. In mid March we left the Squaw Flat trailhead about an hour before sunrise, hiked with a headlamp at first, and covered the 3 miles to this spot, arriving just as the sun rose. This photo was taken just to the right of the slot the trail drops into, as it descends into Elephant Canyon.
The best light for this location occurs around the spring and autumnal equinox. So the months of March and September would be a good time to try it. The cooler temperatures in March of course would make for more comfortable hiking on the return trip. Be sure to take plenty of water as there is no good source of water on the route.
Just at sunrise on any day, but it’s better with wispy clouds. The first minute as the sun rises over the horizon can be particularly spectacular if atmospheric conditions are right.
LENS & FILTERS
LENS: 70-200 mm on a full frame camera, 50-150mm on a crop sensor camera
FILTER: A warming polarizer can really intensify the red light and sky.