Phoenix sunsets are some of the most incredible you’ll ever see. As the sun slips behind the purpling mountains surrounding the city, the skies above turn vibrant shades of red, orange, yellow, and pink. You don’t have to go anywhere in particular to be treated to colorful skies, but these spots throughout the Valley offer especially spectacular views.
South Mountain Park
One of the largest city parks in the world, South Mountain Park boasts some of the best sunsets in Phoenix, especially from Dobbins Lookout. Drive to the lookout or hike the 4-mile Holbert Trail before staking your spot, either under the ramada or on one of the benches near the edge. To the north, the Phoenix skyline glints as the sun descends; to the west, the Estrella and White Tank mountains sit on the distant horizon.
Since the park’s main gate closes at 7 p.m. to traffic, allow yourself enough time to exit. If you’re hiking, you’ll need to be off the trails by 11 p.m.
At Orange Sky, Talking Stick Resort's signature restaurant, floor-to-ceiling windows provide 360-degree views on the 15th floor. Reserve a western-facing table for a breathtaking look at the city and Camelback Mountain. Or, sip a glass of wine on the open-air terrace, where the evolving colors play on a negative edge pool and dazzle in the sky above.
In addition to wagyu, elk loin, and other prime meats, Orange Sky has an award-winning wine list featuring vintage varieties from Arizona and celebrated wine regions around the world. Reservations are encouraged if you want a table at sunset.
A chamber-like “hole” in the red buttes of Papago Park, this geological formation overlooks several lagoons and downtown Phoenix. It also serves as a window to one of the Valley’s best sunsets. Before the sun starts to disappear, allow time for the easy, 10-minute hike 200 feet up to the Hole-in-the-Rock vantage point; plan to be at the gates well before the park closes at 7 p.m.
For a similar view with fewer people, you can head to nearby “A” Mountain instead. It’s a much steeper climb to the 60-foot cement “A” (for Arizona State University, whose campus is below), but it rewards with equally impressive sunsets.
The red rocks of Papago Buttes serve as a backdrop for the postcard-worthy sunsets at the Desert Botanical Garden. When it’s not too hot, visit in mid-afternoon to explore the garden’s 140 acres and more than 50,000 desert plants. Then, while the sky changes colors, watch the blooms close as the garden transitions from day to night.
Some trails close at nightfall, and occasionally sections of the garden shut down for a special event. Ask when you arrive, and plan accordingly. Since you’ll be at the garden around dinnertime, you may want to make a reservation at the garden’s pasture-to-table restaurant, Gertrude’s.
White Tank Mountain Regional Park
At nearly 30,000 acres, White Tank Regional Park is the largest regional park in Maricopa County. It is also a local favorite for its stunning sunsets. For a family-friendly experience, explore the popular Waterfall Trail, which leads to petroglyphs and, depending on rainfall, a waterfall. Or, take the easy, 1.3-mile Black Rock Loop Trail to see rugged formations silhouetted against the fiery sky.
Because the White Tank Mountains border the Valley to the west, you won’t actually see the sun sinking over the city from here. Instead, it disappears behind the backdrop of the Sonoran Desert, making the views even more spectacular.
Located on the 24th floor of the Hyatt Regency Phoenix, Compass Arizona Grill is Arizona’s only rotating restaurant. Every hour, it makes a full turn, giving diners a chance to see Chase Field, Camelback Mountain, and other landmarks along the way. Time it right, and you may be able to watch the sunset, too.
Even if you’re on the other side of the restaurant as the sun dips below the horizon, you’ll still see the colorful sky and the city lights twinkle on. Ask for a table next to the window when you make your reservation for the best views.
Not only is this five-star resort a favorite staycation destination, it’s also one of the best places in the Valley to watch the sunset. Tucked among the foothills of Pinnacle Peak and surrounded by saguaro, Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale is roughly 1,000 feet higher than downtown Phoenix, with several patios overlooking the rugged terrain and North Scottsdale.
Although you can order a drink on the patio at Onyx Bar & Lounge, splurge on a steakhouse dinner at the resort’s flagship restaurant, Talavera. Better yet, book a room here and savor the sunset from your private balcony.
The desert adds an element of magic to sunsets, and there’s no better place to experience it in the Valley than at McDowell Sonoran Preserve. The park has more than 30,500 contiguous acres of untouched desert and 225-plus miles of trails. For a good introduction to the desert, set out on the 2.5-mile Tom’s Thumb Trail, which rewards hikers with views of the city and mushroom-shaped rock formations. As the sun sets, the formations glow in the orange light while the city lights sparkle below.
Plan to return to your vehicle before the sun sets entirely, though. McDowell Sonoran Preserve is open from sunrise to sunset.
Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home and school of architecture in Scottsdale, surveys the Valley from its perch in the foothills of the McDowell Mountains. You can visit on a guided tour during normal business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. most days, but if you book the last tour of the day, you can experience the sunset as Wright would have.
Or, reserve a spot on a Night Lights Tour, offered at 5:30 p.m. 6 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 7 p.m. on Friday. The two-hour tour showcases the illuminated architecture and includes a stop at the property’s fire-breathing dragon. Be sure to arrive early enough to catch the sunset beforehand.
Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort
Camelback Mountain frequently tops the list of places to watch a Phoenix sunset, but the hike to the summit is steep, strenuous, and can be dangerous. Many people have to be evacuated from the trail every year due to injury and exhaustion. Instead of hiking to the summit of this landmark, make a reservation at Elements at Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, located on the mountain's north side.
Headed by celebrity chef Beau MacMillan, the restaurant offers views of the sunset-kissed Valley below and the backlit rock formation, the Praying Monk. Similarly, the adjacent bar, Jade, has floor-to-ceiling windows and mixes some of the Valley’s best cocktails. Its happy hour coincides with prime sunset viewing time, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday.