If you had to survey the park rangers at GCNP on the top questions they’re asked every season, you can bet that: “Where’s the best place to watch the sunset in Grand Canyon National Park?” ranks high on the list. Taking in a sunrise or sunset over the Grand Canyon is on many national park bucket lists, including ours.
We’ll never forget our first Grand Canyon sunset. During our 2018 visit, we drove most of the day from Lake Mead NRA to arrive at Mather Point just before sunset. We parked the car in the campground, hustled to the South Rim and stood speechless. Our first views of one of the seven natural wonders of the world were some of the best that entire week. We went back for sunrise and sunsets three more times on that trip at three different overlooks. Each was just as unique and stunning as the last.
“There’s no bad place to watch the sunset in Grand Canyon National Park.”
We once heard a ranger say, “Well, it’s the Grand Canyon. There’s not really a bad place to watch the sunset.”
And it’s true. While we have some tips and recommendations below, with more than 200 miles of options, there are hundreds of different places to grab a camera and a cup of coffee to watch the sun go down. Each viewpoint offers something slightly different. The level of crowds, different rock formations, and different opportunities for the light to play off the canyon walls. It’s why we recommend you plan to view sunrise and sunsets on as many opportunities as you can during your visit. No two experiences of sunset in Grand Canyon National Park will be exactly the same.
The Top Places to Watch the Sunset in Grand Canyon National Park
Sunset Spots on The South Rim
- Mather Point (most popular and arguably the most crowded)
- Hopi Point
- Yavapai Point & Geology Museum
- Mary Colter’s Lookout Studio Porch
- Rim Trail near McKee Amphitheater
- Desert View Watch Tower
- Mohave Point
For details on these and other must-see points on the South Rim, check out our guide: 13 Must-See Spots on the Grand Canyon South Rim.
Sunset Spots on The North Rim
Did you know that the National Park Service estimates that only 10% of Grand Canyon visitors make it to the North Rim? Your best shot of seeing sunset without the crowds is to plan a visit to one of these locations:
- Cape Royal
- Bright Angel Point
- Point Imperial
- The Grand Canyon Lodge (that’s right, sometimes you’ll find the best sunset is right from the floor-to-ceiling picture windows.
Tips for Watching the Sunset in Grand Canyon National Park
If you’re planning for an upcoming sunset in the Grand Canyon, there are some good tips you’ll want to use before you travel. Follow these suggestions from some seasoned Grand Canyon experts to so you and your family enjoy the best views and take home the best photos:
Check the weather.
Grand Canyon weather is notoriously unpredictable. You’ll want to make sure you prepare for the conditions at sunset. Dress warm enough and watch for late evening thunderstorms.
Check sunset times.
Sunset times for viewpoints around the Grand Canyon can be found easily online. Look at Visitor’s Centers and ranger stations around the park as well. Don’t miss the sunset time by showing up late!
Arrive early and stay late.
To that point, it’s best to arrive at least 45 minutes before posted sunset times to set up and choose the best views. If possible, stay at least 10-20 minutes after the published sunset time as well. The light will continue to change as it moves lower in the canyon, and sometimes the best photos are taken well after the posted sunset time.
If it’s crowded, walk to the left or right of the viewpoint.
On the South Rim, some of the famous overlooks attract large crowds at sunset. If you arrive at an overlook and it’s packed full of other tourists, take the Rim Trail to the left or right of the viewpoint. Eventually, you’ll find a more secluded spot that provides just as good of a sunset view.
Every year Grand Canyon National Park reports injuries and deaths related to falls. Make sure that you stay behind all barriers and are aware of your surroundings at all times when close to the rim.
Bring a tripod.
The best sunset photos demand the best camera equipment. We know it’s a hassle to pack, but bring along your tripod.
Where is your favorite Grand Canyon sunset spot?
Have a favorite spot for sunset in Grand Canyon National Park? Share it in the comments below or post a photo on Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #parkchasers to share it with our online community of national park fans!
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