The sun rising and setting is a phenomenon and one that is pretty much overlooked by all of us, which is quite sad actually because we really like watching the sun rise and set; we just only seem to do it when we’re on holiday, camping or if we’ve been guilted into looking after our sleep-thieving nieces and nephews.
That said, there’s something about seeing the sun rise and set in a National Park that commands a dollop more attention. If we're getting deep and meaningful about it, it’s probably to do with the extraordinary landscapes and crazy-pretty features getting accentuated in different ways by the ever-changing colours that turn these totally normal events into the most extraordinarily beautiful moments. But whatever the case, we wanted to pull together a list of the best National Park sunrise and sunset spots you need to head to at least once.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Fact No. 1: Acadia is the only National park in all of New England.
Fact No. 2: Catching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain will make your knees wobble. That’s how pretty it is.
Oh and, between October and March, it actually catches the first bits of light to hit the United States (which would make that Fact No.3, we guess.)
Yosemite National Park, California
If we had to sum up the Yosemite National Park in two-and-a-half words, they would be: awe-inspiring nature. Seriously. Of all the jaw-dropping national parks in America, this one really is the biggest head-turner. It’s the Brad Pitt of national parks. Just don’t do what we did by pronouncing it “Yos-ee-mite” because you’ll probably feel your cheeks go warm with embarrassment too. As a head’s up, it’s pronounced “Yo-sem-it-tee”.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
There is actually a Best Sunset Spot In America Award (even though it’s probably, definitely called something more official) and Joshua Tree almost always nabs it (rightly so). Seeing the afternoon fade to dusk and the super-cool clouds start to fingerpaint the sky above a desert park full of trees that have come straight from a Dr Seuss book while listening to U2 is one of the most poignant things you can ever do with your time. Period.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Other-bloody-worldy. That’s about the only way to sum this place up because it really is other-bloody-worldly. It’s a mind-boggling panorama of steep orange walls stabbing at the sky above - a sky full of rainbow hues. It might be a little cliche, but as the sun sets on this boiled-dry desert, you’re probs gonna imagine yourself as a cowgirl/boy riding into the sunset. It’s impossible not to.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
This place might not have the cheeriest of names, but a) Death Valley is worse and b) the magical sunrises that take place here totally make up for it. It’s such an amazing place, although it does remind you of how small you are in the scope of life on earth because not only are the fossilized logs scattered about contemporaries of the first dinos, but because there are a dozen solar calendars left behind prehistoric people. Anyway, seeing dawn’s crack here is just… umm… so… well… wow.
Death Valley National Park, California/Nevada
Okay, so the name isn’t very chirpy and, on first glance, this place looks like it’s been subjected to some Old Testament-style punishment. But when you look a little closer, Death Valley is actually performing its very own version of The Royal Variety Show, or America’s Got Talent, or whatever show you watch. The sand dunes sing, the canyons have been sculpted by water, the boulders move and there are plenty of palm-shaded oases to stare at. But the real piece de resistance is the sunrise from Zabriskie Point. That thing is mega.
Canaveral National Seashore, Florida
This is a very exciting place for us, and probably our favourite national park spot on the list, and that’s because the spectacular Canaveral National Seashore has 24-miles of undeveloped white-sand beach for you to pin your quick-drying n’ sand resistant towel too (excuse the subtle plug). Oh, yeah, and the sunrises over Klondike Beach are worth checking out too.
National Mall, Washington D.C.
Okay, yeah, you might look a tincy-wincy bit out of place in a pair of striped swim shorts here, but not only will you get major kudos points from the Dock & Bay team for doing so, you’ll also find that everyone stops pointing at you (in awe!) when it’s dawn or dusk and the sun starts to slowly illuminate these silent sentinels of American history - the Capitol Building and the Lincoln Memorial. It might sound a bit corny, but seeing the sunrise or set at the National Mall really does fill you with a sense of hope and optimism. It’s pretty cool, really.
Thanks for reading. For more travelspiration and far-flung adventure ideas, follow us on Instagram and Facebook and, you know, don’t forget to grab yourself the most awesome towel ever made… and some shorts… and a hair wrap... and probably a poncho too. After all, everyone looks good in stripes.