Summer is here which means it is lighter for much longer and the warm evenings temps have replaced the chilly, brisk nights of a few months ago. This change in the weather can only mean one thing: it is prime season for sunset viewing. Watching those vibrant hues of orange, purple, and red splash across the sky as the fiery orb sinks below the horizon can be the highlight of any adventure—if you know where to find the good spots.
Here are our favorite spots in North America to view sunset.
1. Santa Monica, California
This iconic landmark is over 100 years ago, so it makes sense that it boasts some of the most awe-inspiring sunsets on the West Coast. After all, it has seen a few of them! Cozy up on the beach and find a good angle where you can see the pier, the ferris wheel, and the dazzling sky in the background. You won’t regret it.
Ventura Ranch KOA Holiday
2. Hopi Point, Arizona
Hopi Point sits on the south rim of the Grand Canyon (you know, that rather large ditch you may have heard of once or twice?) Views from this particular spot are top shelf since viewers can see the majority of the canyon: Hopi Point is the highest point on the South Rim. Watching the shadows grow across the canyon is a magical experience as the various rock layers seemingly fade into the darkness.
Grand Canyon / Williams KOA Journey
3. Vista House, Oregon
Unlike others on this list, Vista House is a manmade structure; it is a historical house built in 1918 that was designed as a rest and observational stop on the Columbia River Highway. Today, the building still stands, 733 feet above the Columbia River, and the sunset views are just as stunning as they were over 100 years ago. Plus, the location is only 25 miles from downtown Portland, so it is an easy jaunt from the city.
Cascade Locks / Portland East KOA Holiday
4. Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier is easily one of the most scenic parks in the country, and Lake McDonald underscores that beauty by offering up a gem of an evening lightshow. The lake is located just inside the west entrance to the park, but it is quite popular in the summer since boating, canoeing, and kayaking are all popular daytime activities. If you want to enjoy the snowcapped peaks, still water, and vibrant skyline in silence, visit in the winter or shoulder season; the lake is open year round.
5. Vermillion Lakes, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
With a word like ‘vermillion’ in the name, it is no surprise that the sunset views in this pocket of the park are filled with scarlet reds and vibrant oranges. Situated at the foot of Mount Norquay, the Canadian Rockies provide the ultimate backdrop to this beautiful lake. Added bonus: If you visit in the winter and have the gumption to wait around in the cold, you may be treated to a double surprise: sunset and the iconic Northern Lights.
Cranbrook / St. Eugene KOA Journey
6. Stonington Village, Connecticut
Located in the southeast corner of Connecticut, Stonington Village is frequently referred to as the “most beautiful seaside village in New England,” and for good reason. History seeps from the town at every corner as classic old homes line the streets and fishing boats fill the harbor. For sunset, venture out onto the tip of the peninsula to watch the sun sink behind various boats, islands, and jetties. Pure magic.
7. Bradenton, Florida
Florida is known for its sunshine so it is no surprise that the state’s sunsets are prime time, too. Of course, the best ones happen on the west side of the state, facing the Gulf of Mexico. Of those, the sunsets at Bradenton are tough to beat. Located on Anna Maria Island, Bradenton is rarely crowded and the beach is surrounded by gorgeous aqua water that highlight the colorful sunset. Plus, the island is small, making it very walkable.
St. Petersburg / Madeira Beach KOA Holiday
Heather Balogh Rochfort is freelance writer with a focus on outdoor adventure, travel, and fitness. She is also the author of two books about hiking. Her most recent is Women Who Hike, an unconventional hiking guide featuring women in the outdoors. Based in Denver, she loves anything outside, especially when with her husband, one-year-old daughter, and lovable rescue mutt. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram.