The orange cliffs of Zion national park are basked in a golden and crimson light around sunset. This national park offers many wonders to visitors but watching the sunset in Zion national park is a highlight of any visit to Zion. Yet where are the best spots in Zion to watch the sunset? When we asked the ranger, he said it’s hard to see the sunset from down in Zion valley. However, there is a way! In fact, there are a few places to see the sunset from Zion valley. If you don’t mind hiking upwards you can also see some pretty epic Zion sunsets from above too! Here is a list of 5 amazing sunset spots in Zion national park.
Canyon Junction Bridge Sunset
Watching the Zion sunset at Canyon Junction Bridge is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Zion. The ease of reaching this spot as well as the epic views makes this an excellent place to watch the sunset from! On the other hand, the ease of reaching Canyon Junction Bridge in Zion means that you will not be the only one enjoying the Zion sunset from there.
Canyon Junction Bridge is in the heart of Zion valley. You can hop on the shuttle bus and get off at shuttle stop 3 to reach the bridge. Alternatively, you can follow the Pa’rus trail from the main parking lot to get to the Canyon Junction bridge. There are a few other pedestrian bridges along the Pa’Rus trail which are also excellent to watch the sunset from.
From the Canyon Junction Bridge look to the south of the bridge. On the left, you will see the beautiful Watchman peak. The Watchman is said to be the most iconic peak in Zion National Park. It is situated near the entrance to the park and it does seem to be watching guard. The beautiful sandstone face turns an even fiercer colour of reddish-orange when the sun hits at sunset.
As this is a popular spot, make sure you arrive with plenty of time before the sunset. It would be a shame to get there and find there is no space on the bridge! In summer, it is not uncommon to find over 50 photographers with their tripods set up there. If there is no space when you arrive, head south along the river and wait on one of the other pedestrian bridges to admire the Zion sunset from there instead.
If you do manage to get a spot you are in for a treat!
The view from Canyon Junction Bridge is said to be an overphotographed one. Yet nothing compares to watching the sunset from that point with your own eyes. If you are not able to stay until sunset, the view is well worth visiting at any point in the afternoon.
Do take care on the bridge as it is also used by other vehicles. Furthermore, as you are in the valley, the sun disappears earlier than on the planes. If you manage to elbow your way in for a spot you will be able to watch one of the most spectacular sunsets in Zion.
Watchman Trail Sunset
The Watchman Trail is an easy trail 3-mile round trip. What is not well known is that watching the sunset from the start of the Watchman Trail is amazing!
From the visitor centre, follow the start of the Watchman Trail along the Virgin River. As you look back, you will see the sunset beginning to sink behind the mountains. The surrounding grasses and the sound of the river make this a lovely spot to watch the sunset from. Also, you not far from your car when you need to leave which makes it one of the safest spots to watch the sunset in Zion national park.
You could time your trip to the Watchman Trail in the mid-afternoon so that when you return into the valley, the sunset will be waiting for you.
Whilst this Zion sunset spot does not have the most amazing views, it is an easy and safe one to access. Also, in Autumn, the cotton trees near the river turn vibrant yellow. These yellow leaves seem to accompany the sunset and the orange cliffs perfectly.
If you are looking for a safe sunset in Zion with river sounds consider watching the sunset from the Watchman Trail.
Canyon Observation Point Sunset
Hint: Please check current trail closes before attempting to watch the Zion sunset from Canyon Observation Point. Also please bring a torch or headlamp as this is a hazardous trail.
Canyon Observation Point is one of the best viewpoints in Zion national park. It is also a very beautiful Zion sunset spot!
Reaching Canyon Observation point requires a good hike! Either from the valley floor using the East Rim Trail (still closed in 2020) or by driving up to the start of the East Mesa trail you will have to work to reach this Zion sunset spot.
If you just want to see the sunset from Zion Canyon Observation point, aim to use the East Mesa Trail. To reach the East Mesa trail you will have to use dirt tracks so it is not advisable to drive in a sedan if it has just been raining or snowing.
From the start of the East Mesa trailhead, it takes around 1.5 hours to reach the Observation point (3 miles one way). It is fairly flat and descends slightly as you approach the Zion viewpoint. Whilst not as dramatic as walking up the East Rim Trail, you still pass through pretty forests and meadows.
Once you reach Observation Point you can see the whole valley beneath you. What a view to watch the sunset from! Make sure you do not wait until it is completely dark as you will still have over an hour to walk back to your car. Bring a headlamp or torch with you to guide you.
If you don’t mind a hike to reach this Zion sunset spot this is one of the best spots in Zion to watch the sunset from!
Hikers may also enjoy this list of the best sunset spots in Yosemite national park. There are a few which require a hike to reach but are well worth the effort!
Angel’s Landing Sunset (Big Bend Sunset)
Angel’s Landing is Zion’s iconic trail. The hazardous arete leads brave hikers hundreds of metres above the floor to the summit. This trail is difficult enough with good lighting so I would not recommend staying up there to watch the sunset! Yet there is an Angel’s Landing sunset you can admire, just not from the summit itself.
You will have to time this sunset spot carefully.
This is Big Bend viewpoint. It is an incredibly accessible viewpoint as there is even a shuttle stop there! The virgin river gurgles in front of you as the mighty rock of Angel’s Landing towers above. Angel’s Landing curves and dips meaning that it looks like the orange rock closest to you does not belong to the Angel’s landing massif. Whatever time of day you visit Big Bend you are sure to be impressed. Yet if you get your timing just right, you will be treated to a very special Zion sunset.
In the late afternoon, you may be able to catch the Angel’s landing sunset from Big Bend. The sun begins to sink on the lowest section of Angel’s landing. This means that the end and the summit frame the Zion sunset perfectly!
This is a very accessible and safe sunset spot in Zion. The ease of getting the shuttle to Big Bend and ability to step away from the road makes this a great spot to watch the Zion sunset! Much better than trying to watch the sunset from the top of Angel’s Landing!
Death Valley national park also has some great accessible sunset spots. You can check out this list of the best sunset spots in Death Valley.
Canyon Overlook Sunset
The sunset from Canyon Overlook is a wonderful Zion sunset.
Canyon Overlook can only be reached with the help of your own vehicle. Head onto the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway through the tunnel to reach the small car park by the start of the Canyon Overlook Trail. If you have a large RV you will have to pay a small fee as the tunnel is very narrow and will have to be closed one way for you to pass. Once you reach the car park, leave your vehicle and head onto the trail! It does not take long to walk to the Canyon Overlook point to watch the sunset. The trail is just 0.5 miles and is fairly flat. Some of the terrain is a little slippy but most hazardous sections have railings making this a great trail for young and old.
Ensure you reach the Canyon Overlook Point well before sunset. The mountain will consume the sun long before the sun sets on the valley floor. Also, you want to ensure you are not walking back along the trail in the darkness.
There is plenty of space at the Canyon Overlook to find a good spot to watch the Zion sunset from. There is a section with railings, but continue upwards slightly and perch on one of the orange rocks. Admire the view below. This is a lovely viewpoint in Zion national park. The sun will begin to disappear to your left. You may be able to take some lovely photos of sun flares as it hovers on the orange rocks.
Just make sure you get to this point a few hours before the sun is due to set if you want to see the golden ball itself. The early sunset from Canyon Overlook is a great Zion sunset!