Design People & Places

The Best Places to See the Sunrise in the United States

When almost everyone else is still asleep, you sometimes like to venture outside to see the sky slowly brighten in its daily, dazzling show of color. If you're up for an early start, you can watch the sunrise anywhere. But there are certain spots in the United States where the sunrises are exceptionally beautiful, unusual, or meaningful. Make it a goal to check out a few of the destinations gathered here, where sunrise is a true spectacle.

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Mount Haleakala in Maui, Hawaii

Haleakala is Hawaiian for “House of the Sun,” a name that captures the essence of this towering dormant volcano. It’s the highest point on the island of Maui, part of a range that makes up the better part of the island. At 10,023 feet, it’s the perfect spot for watching the world wake up.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

One of the country’s most famous natural landmarks, the Grand Canyon stretches for 277 miles and offers unending glorious views, but the South Rim is the sunrise-watcher’s preferred location. Hopi Point, in particular, is your best bet for a full view of the rising sun.

Related: 12 National Trust Properties to Visit This Summer

Key West, Florida

If hiking or climbing mountains isn’t your idea of fun, head to the beach! Historic, picturesque Key West is known for beautiful sunrises and sunsets. End the evening with a dinner cruise and watch the sun sink below the horizon, then wake up early the next morning to see it come back up again—ideally from the roof of one of the many lovely hotels near the water.

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah

In some places, it may be tough to find the perfect spot to commune with the sunrise. At Bryce Canyon National Park, however, you can head straight to the aptly named Sunrise Point, which features a scenic overlook with spectacular views.

Taft Point in Yosemite National Park, California

From the 7,500-foot elevation of Taft Point, you can see the Yosemite Valley spread out below you, and with it views of iconic El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. It’s just a relatively easy one-mile hike from the Taft Point trailhead to this popular overlook. that attracts visitors in search of splendid sunrise (and sunset) views.

Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Long a favorite stop for photographers, Mormon Row offers historic barns framed by a dramatic Grand Teton backdrop—ideal fodder for memorable snapshots. The colors and shifting lights of sunrise merely highlight an already picturesque rural landscape.

Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado

Even if you’re not a hiker, you’ll be able to climb 7,377-foot Lookout Mountain to catch a one-of-a-kind sunrise above the clouds. The mountain, which overlooks Denver, is easily accessible by car.

Door and Window Trails in Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Surrounded by the alien terrain of Badlands National Park, you’ll feel as though you’re watching the sunrise on another world. As the sun passes above the horizon, an eerie orange glow will travel across the landscape.

Related: The Most Scenic Hiking Trails in Every State

Powell Butte Nature Park in Portland, Oregon via aflitt

Powell Butte, an extinct volcano within the city limits of Portland, is home to a 612-acre nature park that offers miles of biking and hiking trails as well as spectacular views from its 614-foot elevation. The park opens early enough in the morning for visitors to hike from the trailhead and catch the first of the sun’s rays. 

Arches National Park in Utah

While both Delicate Arch and Devil’s Garden are enjoyable hikes, the latter is the preferred destination for a great sunrise view. Not surprisingly, the path to the Garden includes plenty of opportunities for gorgeous photos along the way.

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Oconaluftee Valley Overlook in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina

This overlook is one of the best spots to observe the sun crest over the Great Smoky Mountains. A nearby parking lot makes this an accessible viewing area for those not interested in a serious hike.

Saguaro National Park in Arizona

In addition to the lure of a beautiful sunrise, morning is the best time to enjoy the desert landscape of Saguaro National Park. An early start will let you experience the wonders of this popular park when it’s less crowded and less hot.

Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, Maine

Amusements abound in the oldest national park east of the Mississippi. For starters, there’s the scenic town of Bar Harbor, delicious lobster, quaint shops, biking, and 120 miles of hiking trails. And you can top it all off with sunrise on Cadillac Mountain, one of three places in Maine that claim to be the first in the United States to see the sun each day. You can either hike up from the Summit Loop trailhead or drive up toward the peak. Either way, you’re in for a treat.

Related: 20 Spectacular Lodgings in America’s National Parks

Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina

Slip your toes into the sand and think deep thoughts—or just decide what you’ll have for breakfast—as you watch the sunrise from the easternmost spot in North Carolina. The area is great for bird-watching, there are a trio of historic lighthouses, and plenty of educational and recreational opportunities, so you’ll be glad to have gotten an early start to your day!

Fire Island in New York

Another popular photography spot, Fire Island is famed for its great scenery and vibrant social scene. You can snap pictures of the rising sun from afar so you can get the Fire Island Lighthouse Tower in the frame, or head straight to the beach to catch the sun as it crawls into view.

Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, Maryland via Nick Normal

It can be hard to find a perfect sunrise spot in an urban setting, but early morning runners are well aware of the special sight that awaits them in Druid Hill Park at dawn. The lake reflects the reddish-orange hues of sunrise, creating a beautiful effect that’s worth pausing to watch.

Lighthouse Beach in Chatham, Massachusetts

There’s something about watching the sunrise near the water, when the light seems to appear from nowhere. At this Cape Cod beach at sunrise, you’ll feel like you’re standing at the edge of a new world.

Ravens Roost Overlook in Lyndhurst, Virginia via tombass59

Accessible via the Blue Ridge Parkway, this overlook delivers stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. Nearby, there’s access to popular trailheads, including an access point to the Appalachian Trail.

Tybee Island in Chatham County, Georgia

It’s easy to watch the sunrise on an island, where there are views all around. At Tybee Island, however, the best place to watch the subtle glow at dawn or dusk is North Beach.

Flint Hills in Kansas

Wake up early to track the sun as it pokes its head over the rolling Flint Hills of Kansas. All year round, the gorgeous vista changes as the landscape transforms with the seasons.