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What Makes Sunset and Sunrise So Special at the Grand Canyon?

Grand Canyon Sunsets and Sunrises are central to your visit. Standing on the edge of the mighty Grand Canyon has been described as awe-inspiring, breathtaking, astonishing and even overwhelming. The sheer magnitude of its size is only outdone by its age as it watches millennium after millennium come and go.  It has taken about 5 to 6 million years for the Grand Canyon to form and mature, standing stoically as one of the greatest monuments to the magnificence and patience of Nature. This is a very special place.

Sunset and Sunrise at Grand Canyon

Mather Point Sunset at Grand Canyon

Especially at sunset. This is when the Grand Canyon comes alive with vivid color, great shadows and dancing light. In just minutes, the Canyon can change from orange to pink to purple as the falling sun casts color and shade across the valleys, peaks and crevasses. It is magnificent! You are either snapping photos as fast as your shutter-speed will go or you are standing still, watching Nature’s light show play out for you. When the sun dips behind the plateau, the show is over and the Grand Canyon goes dark.

Sunrise brings a new look and light to the Canyon, very different but no less beautiful than the evening before. This sunrise/sunset performance is one of the many, many the Canyon has displayed over the last million or so years but if you are lucky enough to experience it, you will never forget it.

Mather Point Sunrise at Grand Canyon

We recommend the following viewpoints for sunset or sunrise on your Grand Canyon visit:

South Rim
Hopi Point

North Rim
Cape Royal
Patio of the Lodge

East Side
Horseshoe Bend


23 Responses

    1. There are entrance fees to pay no matter which rim you visit. The National Park Entrance fees are $25 per vehicle at the south and the north rims. At the East Rim you can visit Horseshoe Bend without paying any fees. Lake Powell entrance fee is $15 per vehicle. At the West Rim you will have to pay Hualapai Tribal fees of about $50 per person.

      1. Glad to pay the tribe $50pp! Its their land, for God's sake. Easy to drive from Las Vegas (if you had to be there). Its a wonderful view there.

  1. Can you recommend anywhere on the west rim to watch the sunrise? I do t believe it opens until 7am so not sure where to go for 5.30am sunrise?
    Many thanks

    1. Lottie,

      As you've realized, Grand Canyon West doesn't open until 7AM, so watching a Sunrise there is not possible.

      I recommend the South Rim or North Rim for watching Sunrise.

      Thank You,


  2. I'm definitely planning on catching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon as well as doing some hiking, but was wondering if we should stick around past dinner and catch the sunset as well? Or is the sunrise going to give us enough "wow!" that we wouldn't feel like we missed out by not catching the sunset as well?

    1. Kat,

      That's really a personal preference. If possible I would catch Sunset the night before, then Sunrise in the morning and head off to your next Destination.

      I personally prefer Sunset over Sunrise...but, to me, it's a delightful experience at the end of the day vs. getting up early and it being just a bit cool at times at the Rim for Sunrise.

      So, it truly is a personal preference decision.

      Enjoy it either way,


  3. planning to South Rim on Mid of May, which view point is the best to catch sunset, Can I drive to Desert View point? How about parking?

    Thank you!!


    1. Letty,

      I personally like Hopi Point or Grandview Point for Sunset, however, the MOST POPULAR view point is Mather is also the most crowded too.

      Yes, you can drive to Desertview Watchtower.

      Parking can be an issue in May. Especially on the Holiday weekends. Looking into the Shuttles in the Grand Canyon Village area, however, the other View points get a lot of Traffic, as well.

      You might consider a Ground Tour by Buck Wild Hummer Tours -OR- Xanterra National Park Lodges, as well.

      Enjoy your visit in May,


  4. A very long time ago when I was a young woman, I saw the Grand canyon as the sun was setting. It was absolutely breathtaking. I'll never forget it.

  5. We stayed at the hotel in the Grand Canyon. When we woke up and opened up the curtains, we had the most spectacular view of the sunrise. I would highly recommend staying inside the park at the canyon.

  6. We are staying in Vegas & plan to rent a car to go to the Grand Canyon. Should we go to the West Rim or the National Park? How long should we plan to be there? We want to see the sunset.

    1. Karen,

      The deciding factor in your the Sunset! I am going to assume you are expecting a beautiful large view into Grand Canyon with that case, it is definitely required that you go to the South Rim. Grand Canyon West's Sunsets are nice too, however, it is a much smaller portion of the Grand Canyon and doe not have the Grand Views that the South Rim has. Also, it's probably where you've seen most of the Sunset Photo's that you are expecting to experience too.



      1. Karlyn,

        Can you recommend lodging for a stay on the south rim for a short hike too and from a sunset/sunrise, please?

        Thank you,

  7. Hi, we like to see sunset in mid august in the canyon. Which spot and time you can recommend?
    Thanks, Sandra

    1. Sandra,

      Here is a great link to the Sunrise/Sunset times that will guide your timing for Sunset:

      Hopi Point is the most Popular Viewpoint for the ideal Sunset.

      Hopi Point
      0.8 miles, 1.3 km west from here to Mohave Point on dirt trail
      0.3 miles, 0.5 km east from here to Powell Point on dirt trail

      Hopi Point is one of the most popular viewpoints for watching the sunset and sunrise because of its wide vistas. The Colorado River comes into view to the west. Restrooms are available here.

      Mather Point is always packed too:

      My favorite place to watch Sunset is actually Grandview Point on the East Rim drive towards Desert View:
      I will tell you that parking is an issue at Grandview go early. It is also where the Commercial Tour operators go for Sunset Buckwild Hummer Tours and Pink Jeep Tours.

      You are on the priorities for your Grand Canyon visit...SUNSET is an important part of remembering this incredible place!



  8. What is the cost to enter the Grand Canyon to view the Sunrise and Sunset? Do we need to purchase tickets twice to view both the same day?

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