27 Spectacular Places To Watch the Sunrise or Sunset in the U.S.

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Are you a sunset chaser? Or maybe an early morning person in hopes of catching a beautiful sunrise? Many people count sunrise and sunset as their favorite times of the day. One reason is the lighting; dust in the atmosphere filters the low light and creates intense colors. Another is that the world seems quiet and still at those times.

There’s also a certain enjoyment in watching the sun rise or fall over the edge of the Earth. Any place with a view of the horizon is good for watching the sun rise or set, but some are especially spectacular. Here are 27 that deserve a spot on this list.

1. Haleakala Summit, Hawaii

Haleakala Summit, Hawaii
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/FrozenShutter

Haleakala is a massive shield volcano that makes up about 75% of Maui’s landmass. You can drive to its top, which offers panoramic views of the island and the Pacific. Although the volcano last erupted between 1480 and 1600, scientists consider it to still be an active volcano. Watching the sun rise and set from above the cloud line is otherworldly and one for the bucket list.

2. The Grand Canyon, Arizona

grand canyon sunrise
Image Credit: Canva

At the established overlooks along this canyon’s rim, you’ll always find a lot of photographers waiting for the perfect sunrise or sunset shot. If you prefer less company, it’s usually easy to hike a bit along the rim until you find a spot just for yourself. Either way, you’ll love watching the brilliant colors on the canyon walls contrast with the deep shadows within the canyon. Seeing the sunrise at the Grand Canyon can be a spectacular event, as long as the weather permits!

3. West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Maine

West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, Maine
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Wirestock

The lighthouse here, striped like a candy cane, is beautiful all on its own, but this location on the Atlantic coast has a special distinction. It’s the easternmost point of land in the United States, so it’s the first to receive sunlight each day.

4. Florida Bay, Florida

Florida Bay, Florida
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/rarnaldo

Florida Bay is at the southern tip of Everglades National Park, which itself is at the southern tip of Florida’s mainland. This means that you can watch the sun both rise and set over the waters here, making it a perfect place to start and end your day when you visit this park.

5. The Window, Texas

The Window in Big Bend National Park - JB ManningShutterstock
Image Credit: JB Manning/Shutterstock

Located in Big Bend National Park, the Window is a narrow gap between two peaks in the Chisos Mountains. You can hike to this gap and marvel at the precipitous dropoffs and desert views, but for sunset, view it from an overlook in the Basin area. At some times of the year, the sun sets directly in the gap.

6. Logan Pass, Montana

Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Don White

Glacier National Park is a wonderland of mountain scenery, and Logan Pass on the Continental Divide is one of the best and easiest places to experience it. The pass, which is above the timberline, has sweeping 360-degree views, so it’s great for both sunrise and sunset.

7. St. Mary Lake, Montana

St. Mary Lake, Montana
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Greg Meland

Also in Glacier National Park, St. Mary Lake is the most spectacular of the park’s large lakes. It’s also the site of the Wild Goose Island Overlook, which is popular all day long

but is particularly impressive at dawn as it frames the reddening mountains. Although this side of the park is known for being windy, the lake is often briefly still at sunrise, perfectly reflecting the surrounding peaks.

8. Arches National Park, Utah

arches national park, utah
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/sgtphoto

The red sandstone in this desert masterpiece glows at sunrise and sunset. However, the best way to enjoy those times here is to find an arch that frames the rising or setting sun. If you’re up for a moderate 3-mile round-trip hike, head out to famous Delicate Arch for sunset. The view of the arch faces east, so you won’t see the sun setting through the arch, but the glowing-red arch does frame the snow-capped La Sal Mountains in the distance.

9. Rialto Beach, Washington

Rialto Beach, Washington
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/:svetlana57

This beach on the Pacific Coast in Olympic National Park features offshore rock outcrops known as sea stacks and tide pools teeming with starfish, anemones, and other aquatic life. Watching the sun set between two of the sea stacks or directly behind one, thereby silhouetting it, is something you’ll never forget.

10. Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/XIN WANG

Crater Lake in this national park of the same name is the deepest lake in the U.S. and has stunningly blue waters. Because a road encircles the crater rim, you can enjoy sunrise and sunset from multiple locations, choosing to focus on the sun in front of you or the strong colors it creates when it’s behind you.

11. Lone Pine, California

Lone Pine, CA
Image Credit: Gleb Tarro/Shutterstock

The small town of Lone Pine sits at the base of the Sierra Nevada on its spectacular east side, where the jagged Sierra crest rises more than 10,000 vertical feet above the valley floor. With the sun behind you at dawn, you can take in the classic view of pink-tinged Lone Pine Peak and Mount Whitney, the highest peak in the Lower 48, framed by the Alabama Hills below.

12. Zabriskie Point, California

Zabriskie Point, California
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/lightkey

At dawn, this overlook in Death Valley National Park has incredible views of the rugged, wildly colored badlands below, and you can watch the sun hit the Panamint Range and Death Valley’s salt pan beyond. At sunset, enjoy watching the sun disappear behind those mountains, which are snow-covered for about half the year.

13. North Shore, Minnesota

North Shore, Minnesota
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/jimkruger

Minnesota’s North Shore runs from Duluth to the Canadian border along Lake Superior. The greatest of the Great Lakes seems almost like an ocean, and watching the sun rise over its waters is reminiscent of being at the beach.

14. Montauk Point, New York

Montauk Point Lighthouse, New York
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/HaizhanZheng

At the far eastern end of Long Island, Montauk Point is one of the wildest and roughest sections of the Atlantic coast. It’s a great spot to see the sun rising over the ocean.

15. Old Rag Mountain, Virginia

Old Rag Mountain, Virginia
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Douglas Rissing

Old Rag sits east of the crest of the Blue Ridge in Shenandoah National Park. A rugged, strenuous trail leads to its exposed summit, where you can watch the sun setting over the mountains to the west. You can’t camp up there, so bring a headlamp for the hike back down.

16. Clingmans Dome, Tennessee

Great Smoky Mountains National Park Scenic Sunrise Landscape
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/WerksMedia

This peak is in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is the highest point in Tennessee. You can drive to the summit, which has an observation tower. Due to the 360-degree panorama, you can enjoy both sunrise and sunset here.

17. Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Padre Island National Seashore, Texas
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/RoschetzkyIstockPhoto

You can drive on the beach here, so you won’t have any trouble finding a secluded spot. Sunrise is best since the shores face east, but sunset can light up huge clouds off the shores.

18. Morro Bay, California

Morro Bay
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Mindaugas Dulinskas

The entire California coast is great for watching sunsets. However, Morro Bay is dominated by massive Morro Rock, a volcanic plug just off the shore. It serves as a spectacular backdrop for sunsets.

19. Mount Evans, Colorado

Mount Evans, Colorado
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/John Morrison

One of Colorado’s 50+ 14ers– peaks above 14,000’– Evans has a paved road to its top. From the parking area, it’s a short walk to the true summit. Unobstructed panoramic views make this spot perfect for both sunrises and sunsets.

20. Mesquite Flat, California

Death Valley National Park
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/GaryKavanagh

Located near Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley National Park, the Mesquite Flat sand dunes are a quick hike from the road. They take on an intense glow at sunrise and sunset, and photographers flock to them to capture the vibrant colors and deep shadows.

21. Enchanted Rock, Texas

Enchanted Rock, Texas
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/SunnyXplorer

The crown jewel of Central Texas’s Hill Country is this huge granite dome formed from cooled lava. A short but steep hike gets you to the summit, where the views both at daybreak and day’s end are sweeping and spectacular.

22. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/strickke

One of the West’s iconic views is that of the Teton Range rising abruptly from the valley floor below. At dawn, the granite peaks take on a pink tinge. As the sun sets behind the mountains, it paints the clouds that frequently form in the afternoon with intense colors.

23. Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/stevegeer

Like other badlands areas, the badlands of South Dakota show off brilliant colors at times of day when the sun is low. The dark storm clouds that often roll over the plains here often create a stunning contrast with the sunlit crags.

24. Dream Lake, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Grant Chesin

A moderately challenging hike of just over a mile gets you to this alpine lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Hallett Peak and neighboring cliffs glow red at dawn, and the waters, when still, perfectly reflect the mountain scenery.

25. Tuolumne Meadows, California

Tuolumne River Yosemite National Park
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Ron and Patty Thomas

Yosemite Valley gets most of the attention in the eponymously named national park, but the best place for sunrise and sunset is up in the high country along the Tioga Pass Road. There, meadows frame granite domes and alpine peaks that, like many other granite formations, glow a lovely pink at sunrise and sunset.

26. Red Rock Canyon, Nevada

Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Pengcheng Zhu

Towering red and yellow sandstone peaks make this desert wilderness just outside Las Vegas one of the most spectacular spots in the Southwest. The Scenic Loop through the heart of the area means that it’s easy to enjoy the colors of both sunrise and sunset.

27. Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
Image Credit: istockphoto.com/Kyle Little

Windswept and surf-battered Cape Hatteras has some of the most spectacular sunrises on the East Coast. Pay special attention to how the light plays with ripples in the sand.

Best Place to See the Grand Canyon Sunrise at South Rim

grand canyon sunrise
Image Credit: Canva

If you’re wondering where the best place to see the Grand Canyon sunrise at South Rim is, you’re not alone. With more than six million visitors to the national park each year, there are plenty of people trying to find the best place to see the show.

And what a show it is! Mother Nature does not disappoint. It was easily one of the most memorable sunrises we’ve ever seen! There are some things you should know before you go, though, and we’ll do our best to answer all your questions for you.

Best Place to See the Grand Canyon Sunrise at South Rim

Haleakala Summit at Sunrise or Sunset: Which One Should You Do?

sunset at Haleakala Summit in Maui
Image Credit: Canva Pro

If you’re heading to the beautiful island of Maui and trying to decide whether or not it’s worth planning a visit for a Haleakala Summit sunrise or sunset, the answer is yes!

Either time you decide to go, it’s definitely worth it. 

Actually, if I had to rank it, I would say it was in the top three things we did on our vacation in Maui, and I loved just about everything we did there! Here are nine things you should know before you go.

Haleakala Summit at Sunrise or Sunset: Which One Should You Do?

This article was produced by Our Woven Journey.

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Robert Sihler is an educator, freelance writer, and rock climbing guide and instructor living with his family in Driftwood, Texas. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, streaming films, completing crossword puzzles, and rock climbing. When he goes on vacation, he likes to visit the mountains of the West and climb remote, obscure peaks that have seen few or no prior ascents.