When visiting Bryce Canyon National Park, everyone should try to spend an evening watching the sun set in the park. The best spot in the park to view sunsets is Sunset Point. The way the evening’s rays flow over the hoodoos, creating colorful contrasts, is simply breathtaking.
Use this guide to help determine the “where”, “when” and “how” of watching sunsets in Bryce Canyon.
Getting to Bryce Canyon’s Sunset Point
Physical Address: Sunset Pt Rd, Bryce Canyon City, UT 84764
Getting to Bryce Canyon’s Sunset Point is easy. 1.5 miles south on Park Road, you’ll see Sunset Point Road on your left. The parking lot here is huge. There is probably room for over 100 cars and RVs. There is a large restroom and a handful of picnic tables set under the canopy of towering Douglas Firs.
From the back of the parking lot, there will be a concrete pathway – no more than 500 feet long – to Sunset Point Overlook. The path is wheelchair accessible and flat. It is a straightforward (and popular) section of the park.
What Do You See at Sunset Point?
Beneath Sunset Point’s overlook, towards the south, emerges what is called the Silent City from the canyon floor. It is a complex arrangement of tightly packed hoodoos and rock fins. Just to the north, stands Thor’s Hammer, which is a perfectly balanced boulder sitting atop a spire rising from the hoodoos below.
Sunset Point also has the best display of Bryce Canyon’s vast rock colors. Known as the Claron Formation, it primarily consists of limestone that settled around 50 million years ago in a vast freshwater lake referred to by geologists as Lake Claron. The vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows of the lower half of the cliffs, known as the Pink Member, are attributed to iron oxide minerals within the rock. Patches of pink and purple are caused by manganese oxides contribute further to the colorful array. The transition from orange to white marks the start of the Upper Member, where the limestone is purer and lacks color due to the absence of mineral impurities.
Sunset at Sunset Point
It is best to get to the parking lot at least an hour early if you intend to get a good spot at the Overlook for sunset. You can view sunset times for Bryce Canyon here.
Sunrise at Sunset Point
Similarly, sunrises at Sunset Point are equally impressive. Use this link to get the time of sunset, and arrive at least 60 minutes before sunrise starts. When we did something similar at the Grand Canyon, we actually got to the lookout point before first light, which is usually an hour or two before the official “sunrise” time.
Sunset Point During the Day
Visiting Sunrise Point during the day still makes for an impressive trek. It is widely considered one of the best spots to see the colors and fantastic hoodoos inside the park. This, coupled with the fact that access and parking is super easy, makes Sunset Point a very popular spot.
After visiting the point, I highly recommend you hike into the canyon below.
The Navajo Loop Trail descends from Sunset Point into the Wall Street slot canyon, where 500 to 700-year-old Douglas Firs reach toward the sunlight at the top of the canyon. The Navajo Loop is the most popular trail in the park, and is often combined with the Queen’s Garden Trail to form a longer loop that passes through the Queen’s Garden and emerges onto the rim at Sunrise Point. From here, you can take a concrete path back north to Sunset Point or south to Inspiration Point. Both strolls are easy and less than a mile long.
The full loop from Sunset Point, down the Navajo Loop Trail, to Queen’s Garden, Sunrise Point and back is just about 3 miles long, and considered a moderately difficult trail.
|Elevation Gain||649 feet|