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15 best spots to see the sunset in national parks

Sunsets, beautiful views, and national parks? Count us in.

By: Aurora Slaughter + Save to a List

Who doesn’t love a sunset? As the day draws to a close, watching the brilliant colors streak across the sky can be the perfect way to end your day. Luckily for us, national parks across the country boast incredible trails and lookout points that are great for 360-degree sunset views.

If you are looking to catch some jaw-dropping, majestic views on your next national park visit, read below for some of the best spots to catch the sunset.

Note: If you are planning on hiking in to see the sunset, it is recommended to come prepared for hiking back out in the dark with a headlamp or flashlight.

1. Taft Point- Yosemite National Park

A lone hiker looks out to the sun lit valley from the overlook

Photo by: Joel Bear

Distance: 2.35 miles
Elevation: 200 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

Jaw-dropping views of Yosemite Valley await you on this hike. From the trailhead, you will go through a variety of ferns, boulders, and forests. Reaching Taft Point at the peak of golden hour, you will be left speechless by the 360 views and the beauty of the setting sun illuminating the valley and El Capitan.

2. Hike Frazier Discovery Trail- Shenandoah National Park

The sun sets over rocks and shrubs

Photo by: Brandon Dewey

Distance: 1.3 miles
Elevation: 950 ft
Type: Loop

Bring your camera and capture the stunning oranges, purples, and pinks of the sunset from the two overlooks this short hike provides. From the first overlook, capture some gorgeous side light on the surrounding mountain ridges and marvel at the illuminated rock textures and vibrant plant colors visible from the overlook. Head onto the second overlook if you would like to witness the beauty of the sun setting directly behind the Blue Ridge Mountains.

3. Explore Haleakala’s SummitHaleakalā National Park

The sun shines out over a canopy of rolling clouds

Photo by: Tyler Drake

Distance: 11 miles
Elevation: 3,000 ft
Type: Point-to-Point

Pack your snacks and layers and embark on this difficult, but rewarding, full-day journey up to Haleakala’s summit where you will be left speechless by the natural beauty this summit has to offer. Surrounded by a thick blanket of white clouds, witness the sun painting the clouds in its golden hue as it dips beneath them. Appreciate the 360 views from this high point in Hawaii where you will be able to witness the island and sea beyond as it gets coated in the sun’s setting light.

4. Hike to Panorama Point- Mount Rainier National Park

The sunset casts a golden hue over a field of wildflowers

Photo by: Michael Matti

Distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation: 1,700 ft
Type: Loop

Not only does this hike offer stunning sunset views, but it also allows you to surround yourself with fields of wildflowers, dark green trees with fog pouring through, and snow-blanketed mountain peaks. Once you have arrived at Panorama Point, find a place to sit back, eat a snack, and take your time enjoying the views of Mt. Rainier and the sun setting.

5. Photograph a Sunset from the North Rim Lodge- Grand Canyon National Park

The sunset turns the sky golden and turns the canyon bright red

Photo by: Jared Blitz

Distance: 0.5 miles
Type: Out-and-Back

Take this short and easy hike along a paved road to witness the sunset while overlooking the Grand Canyon’s North Rim. With the South Rim being the more popular corner, this hike will give you the chance to enjoy some quiet and solitude while watching brilliant colors streak across the sky and the sun dip behind the canyon highlighting all of its reddish hues.

6. Hike the Hugh Norris Trail- Saguaro National Park

the sun set lights the cacti forest in its golden hue

Photo by: Colin Stouffer

Distance: 9.5 miles
Elevation: 2,000 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

This is the longest hike in Saguaro National Park and offers stunning and versatile views worth the distance. Taking you to the top of the Tuscon Mountains you will be able to appreciate some stunning views of the surrounding park. During your hike, immerse yourself in desert beauty with Saguaro and Cholla forests. Take a short break and watch as the sun dips below the horizon from the top before climbing back down and appreciating the golden hue that lights up the cacti surrounding you.

7. Hike the Chimney Tops- Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The sun sets over the forest-filled valley

Photo by: Mason Boring

Distance: 4.03 miles
Elevation: 1,487 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

This is one of the most visited trails in the park for its sweeping views from the top of the peak. Scramble up the peak and settle in to watch the brilliant red sunset as it sweeps down through the valley thickly blanketed with trees.

8. Beauty Mountain Trail- New River Gorge National Park and Preserve

the sun sets over the valley and the river

Photo by: Brandon Dewey

Distance: 1.1 miles
Elevation: 279 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

Follow the trail as it winds along the cliff edge before branching off to one of the many overlooks. There, enjoy watching the sunset over the lush forest and windy river.

9. Gypsum Sand Dunes- Guadalupe Mountains National Park

The sun shines over the ripples of the sand dune

Photo by:  Kyle Obermann

Distance: 3.01 miles
Elevation: 50 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

This hike is the national park’s best-kept secret, offering vista views of Guadalupe Peak, El Capitan, and Guadalupe Mountains Massif. Head out onto the sand dunes, kick off your shoes, and find a nice spot to relax and watch the sun set over the sand and scrubs turning them a calming golden color.

10. Hike Flattop Mountain- Rocky Mountain National Park

The reddish-orange sunset reflects on the snow-capped peaks

Photo by: Eric Schuette

Distance: 8.6 miles
Elevation: 2,850 ft
Type: Out-and-Back

Hike through the trees and above tree line to an overlook above Emerald Lake where you can watch the sunset over the snow-capped mountains. Watch as the clouds and snow-capped mountains surrounding you turn brilliant pink, orange, and purple colors.

Not feeling up to a hike? There are still plenty of beautiful spots to catch the sunset that you can drive right up to.

11. Catch a sunset at Green River Overlook- Canyonlands National Park

Two hikers are silhouetted on the rocky outcropping against the setting sun

Photo by: Jonathon Reed

From the Green River Overlook parking lot, settle in along the rock edge and watch as the sun begins to set. This overlook allows visitors to witness the Soda Springs Basin from the edge of Island in the Sky as the sun touches down on the surrounding desert wilderness.

12. Drive the Sage Creek Rim Road- Badlands National Park

A hiker looks out over a green coated valley as clouds roll through and the sun turns the sky light pink

Photo by: Hunter Moore

13. Watch a Sunset at Schwabacher Landing- Grand Teton National Park

The Grand Tetons and the hot pink sunset are reflected in the lake

Photo by: Tyler Drake

An iconic Grand Teton viewing point, the landing takes you out along a lake where you can witness the grandeur of the Grand Teton Mountain Range reflected in the water. At sunset, watch as the sky is painted in pinkish hues that reflect off the peaks rising into the sky.

14. Catch a Sunset at Keys View- Joshua Tree National Park

The sun sets over the desert landscape

Photo by: Anca Apostoaei

A must-see place in Joshua Tree, Keys View offers breathtaking views perfect for sunset watching. Perch on the crest of the Bernadino Mountains for panoramic views of the Coachella Valley as the sky turns golden over the desert landscape.

15. Photographing the Sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge- Zion National Park

The sunset turns the clouds pink and illuminates the red peaks and bright green trees surrounding the river

Photo by: Tiffany Nguyen

This location is extremely popular and often lined with photographers looking to take pictures of the iconic peak The Watchman and the surrounding valley. Come at sunset and witness as the sandstone face of the peak glows red-orange and the valley seems to take on a whole new life against the backdrop of the setting sun.

Cover photo by: Joel Bear

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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