When asked, “where is the best place to watch the sunset at the Grand Canyon?” my reply has always been, “Well, there really is no bad spot”. And it’s true, anywhere along the rim awards you with over 100 miles of visibility. Light playing off the brightly colored Canyon walls ignites the clouds like cotton candy changing from blue, to orange, and finally red as the sun drops quickly below the rim. My favorite place encompasses this spectacular light show along with the remoteness of being able to find your own spot, undisturbed by anyone else!
Most people opt for the easier to access, developed points right on the rim. But a short, 1-mile walk to Shoshone Point is the place to be! It is a designated viewpoint, but the 20-minute walk acts as a deterrent for many people. Access is about 1.3 miles east of the Pipe Creek Vista along Desert View Drive/Hwy. 64 towards Desert View Watchtower. A small dirt parking lot on the northside of the roadway denotes where to park. During peak season (Memorial Day through Labor Day), it can have at most 10 vehicles, and quite possibly, you might be the only vehicle there. Either way, the point has plenty of space for people to disperse unlike many other more developed areas. From the parking area, you will see a gated, single-lane dirt trail leading toward the canyon. The 1-mile walk through this old-growth Ponderosa woodland adds to the spot's idealism. During the gentle grade through this breathtaking forest walking to Shoshone Point, I have seen elk and mule deer more often than not, including up to 40 elk at one time! After sunset, once the sun goes down, the temperature drops bringing out many large animals.
Shoshone Point, Grand Canyon’s Hidden Sunset
Once at Shoshone, you’ll notice picnic tables and barbecue pits (these are utilized for private functions, and must be reserved through the National Park Service). Here a narrow trail starts to walk you out to the point itself. I like arriving early to walk along the rim in either direction. When it’s time for sunset, walk the short distance towards the rock pedestal and you will find smooth limestone outcrops that award you with over 270 degrees of canyon vistas. You will see the Colorado River, Horseshoe Mesa, and the Desert View Watchtower to the east, a 70-foot tall viewpoint that looks like a toothpick sticking up from the rim!
This narrow peninsula brings you much farther out on the rim than any other point. It provides the best vantage point for not only looking west towards the sun, but also east to watch the low light reflecting brilliant colors off the Canyon walls. This location is magnificent throughout the year while many developed points are season-specific, due to their orientation to the Canyon.
The 20-minute walk back to your vehicle allows time to reflect on the beauty of this magnificent place. Not only the beauty of the Canyon but also the forest, its animals and the stars above! Be sure to look up as it gets dark for the blanket of stars as they reveal a night sky rivaled by nowhere else. High elevation and far from any major development with lights, the Grand Canyon has some of the lowest measured light pollution in the US, allowing for a whole different light show during the darkness of night!
If you’re looking to discover the Grand Canyon at sunset, be sure to check out our Grand Canyon tour options.