Shoshone Point, Grand Canyon’s Hidden Sunset
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 and light playing off the brightly colored Canyon walls, while the clouds resemble 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 North side 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, to the only vehicle there. Either way, the point has plenty of space for people to disperse unlike many developed points. 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 this 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! Especially after sunset; once the sun goes down, the temperature does as well, which brings out the large animals.
Once at Shoshone, you’ll notice picnic tables and barbecue pits (these are utilized for private functions, and must be reserved through NPS) but denote where the narrow trail starts to walk you out to the point itself. I like arriving early to walk along the rim in either direction to explore, but when it’s time for sunset, walk out the short distance towards the rock pedestal and you will find smooth limestone outcrops that award you with over 270 degrees of canyon vistas, including the Colorado River, Horseshoe Mesa, and if you look closely to the east, you can see the Desert View Watchtower, a 70 foot tall viewpoint that looks like a toothpick sticking up from the rim!
This narrow peninsula brings you much farther than any other point along the rim, which provides the best vantage point for not only looking west towards the sun, but also east to watch the low light angles reflect off the brilliant colors of the Canyon. 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 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, 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.