Watching a stunning sunset in Phoenix is a must on your trip, whether visiting for only a few days or over a weekend. The Phoenix Valley has some of the most magnificent sunsets in the world. And your trip is incomplete without going on at least a few sunset hikes in Phoenix.

Surrounded by hundreds of thousands of acres of desert wilderness dotting the rugged mountains on the horizon, the sunset in Phoenix is a dreamy spectacle, as nature showcases its magnificence as the setting sun transforms the landscapes, making it magical as the skies get painted with brilliant oranges, gold, yellow, red and purple.

Whether you want to go on a quick or adventurous hike to watch the Phoenix sunset or prefer an easy-to-access drive-through spot, below is the list of the best sunset spots in Phoenix that should be on your itinerary.

WHERE TO WATCH THE BEST SUNSET IN PHOENIX

PAPAGO PARK(HOLE-IN-THE-ROCK)

  • Distance from Phoenix – 8.5 miles
  • Driving duration – 15 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance –0.3 miles one way
  • Hiking duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Parking – Available

One of the popular spots for watching a beautiful sunset in Phoenix is Hole in the Rock, a natural geological formation in Papago Park, a municipal state park of Phoenix and Tempe. Hole-in-the-Rock is a series of holes carved out by millions of years of erosion by the wind into the sandstone hills.

Sunset in Phoenix

Due to its location, this 1,500-acre park, only 15 minutes east of downtown Phoenix, is also one of the best Phoenix sunrise spots as well. So you can watch either or both here. Before heading for the hike, you can visit Phoenix Zoo nearby.

Plenty of trails are categorized into the West Side Trails and the East Side Trails. One of the most popular routes for enjoying a quiet Phoenix sunrise is the trail to Hole-in-the-Rock.

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The trail, about 0.3 miles one way, is easy, and you can enjoy a quick hike with your family and friends to admire the gorgeous views during the golden hour.  

From the parking lot, you will pass a series of unique red sandstone rocks to get to the viewpoint accessed via stone steps rising 200 feet high.

Phoenix sunset time

You can climb inside the formations and watch one of the best sunsets in Phoenix, casting brilliant hues over downtown and the desert oasis below. 

Since the park gates close at 7 PM, plan your hike accordingly.

CAMELBACK MOUNTAIN(ECHO CANYON RECREATION AREA)

  • Distance from Phoenix – 13.3 miles
  • Driving duration – 15 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 1.2 miles one way
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Hiking duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Parking – Available

If you are looking for one of the quick-to-reach spots to watch a beautiful sunset in Phoenix, head to Echo Canyon Recreation Area, located only a 15-minute drive away from Phoenix. 

One of the trails leads you to the top of Camelback Mountain, one of the best spots to view a golden sunset in Phoenix and spectacular 360-degree views of the valley and surrounding mountains.

This mountain gets its name from its two rock formations resembling the head and back of a kneeling camel.

Phoenix sunset

Considered one of the best sunset hikes in Phoenix, the 1.2-mile Echo Canyon Trail to Camelback Mountain offers magnificent sunrise views apart from featuring many landmarks and iconic attractions near the city, including Praying Monk, Superstition Mountain ranges, CamelBack, Piestewa Peak and others.

The hike begins on the Echo Canyon trail, with the trailhead located close to the parking lot. There is an easy incline at the start, which will offer amazing views. 

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A few more climbs can be managed well with the help of well-placed handrails. Pause to take in the pictures of the surrounding attractions on the horizon, including the views of Piestewa Peak behind.

Phoenix sunset

The last mile gets steeper with more steps and boulder hopping between the wash on a marked trail. Since there is little light, it is best to scramble rather than hop if you are not very confident. Around the bend at the top, you are rewarded with splendid panoramic views.

Enjoy the beautiful sunset in Phoenix from the summit cast in the backdrop of the skyline of Phoenix, South Mountain Park and Preserve, the Superstitions Mountains and Four Peaks off in the distance. 

Start the hike early. Carry a jacket as the temperatures get cold, a headlamp, water and snacks.

HAYDEN BUTTE

  • Distance from Phoenix – 10.6 miles
  • Driving duration – 20 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 0.6 miles one way
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Hiking duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Parking – Available

One of the easily accessible spots for watching a stunning sunset in Phoenix is Hayden Butte, located partly on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. On a short but moderate hike, you will be treated to spectacular 360-degree views of the Phoenix valley looking magical at dusk as the setting sun spreads its colours against the mystic desert panoramas.

sunset in Phoenix

The trail is easy to find and is about 0.6 miles one way. Carry a picnic blanket, jackets, snacks and water to get to the top of the butte and admire the 360-degree overlook of the Valley.

DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN

  • Distance from Phoenix – 9 miles
  • Driving duration – 15 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 0.3 miles one way
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Parking – Available

One of the most accessible locations to enjoy a stunning sunset in Phoenix is the Desert Botanical Garden, located 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix. 

Phoenix Arizona sunset

Home to thousands of varieties of desert plants native to the American Southwest, it is also one of the top Phoenix sunrise spots to enjoy stunning views of colourful skies against the garden’s saguaros, chollas, and cacti amidst the red rock buttes.

There are five trails based on different themes that will offer glimpses of the people of the Sonoran Desert, along with introducing you to a plethora of beautiful desert wildflowers.

LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN

  • Distance from Phoenix – 18 miles
  • Driving duration – 25 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance –0.85 miles one way
  • Hiking duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Parking – Available

One of the short and steep sunset hikes in Phoenix suitable for beginners and intermediate-level hikers is the Lookout Mountain trail in the Lookout Mountain Preserve, a municipal park in the northern part of Phoenix, Arizona. 

Although it is under a mile out-and-back trail, it is generally considered a moderately challenging route as it involves climbing over scattered loose rocks patches. Take it slow, carry a headlamp, and wear good hiking shoes. You can even bring your dogs on a leash.

At the end of the climb, you will be rewarded with glorious views of the setting sun against the desert vegetation carpeted mountains, the city’s skyline and Phoenix valley.

PIESTEWA PEAK

  • Distance from Phoenix – 14 miles
  • Driving duration – 15 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 2.2 miles one way
  • Hiking duration – 3 to 4 hours
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Parking – Available

One of the popular spots to watch both a sunrise and sunset in Phoenix is Piestewa Peak, one of the most prominent mountains in the Phoenix Valley located in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve.

Named in honour of Lori Ann Piestewa, the first Native American woman in the U.S. military to lose her life in combat, Piestewa Peak, close to Camelback, is one of the few places to watch Phoenix’s sunset and sunrise where you can admire the magnificent 360-degree views.

You can access the peak on the Summit Trail, a 2.1-mile one-way path, which involves a few switchbacks and a steady incline that can be managed due to the sizeable well-placed step sections.

At the top, you will be treated to sweeping views of the valley. Look for the Superstitions Mountains, White Tanks, the McDowells and South Mountain to the south. 

Start the hike early for the best sunset views. Carry a jacket and a headlamp. Note that pets aren’t allowed on this trail.

GRANADA PARK

  • Distance from Phoenix – 8 miles
  • Driving duration – 15 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 0.5 miles one way
  • Difficulty level – Easy
  • Hiking duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Parking – Available

One of the popular spots among locals is Granada Park, an excellent recreation area and one of the top spots to watch an epic sunset in Phoenix. 

Only about 15 minutes from downtown, it is one of the best places to enjoy a picnic lunch with your kids and pets before getting ready to admire the glowing sunset across the desert areas.

There are two large ponds with ducks and fish, which is one of the best places to relax and admire the sunset views and the views of the Phoenix Mountains, including Piestewa Peak. You can also enjoy fishing in the ponds. There are many hiking and bike trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, and plenty of green spaces to walk around.

BEST PLACES FOR SUNSET IN PHOENIX(MORE THAN 30 MINUTES DRIVE)

SOUTH MOUNTAIN PARK(DOBBINS LOOKOUT)

  • Distance from Phoenix – 32 miles
  • Driving duration – 30 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 2.3 miles one way
  • Hiking duration – 3 to 4 hours
  • Difficulty level – Moderate
  • Parking – Available

Among the top attractions of Phoenix, South Mountain Park is also one of the best places to watch an epic sunset in Phoenix. 

South Mountain Park is the largest municipal park in the United States and one of the largest urban parks in North America. You can spend a few hours or many days in this massive 16000 acres plus park offering tons of activities, from over 60 miles of hiking and biking trails to camping, rock climbing and much more.

The best part is it is only about 20 minutes south of downtown Phoenix, and hence the best spot to start your day is by going on one of the many sunset hikes in Phoenix at Dobbins Lookout.

The trek to Dobbins Lookout is the most famous sunrise trail within South Mountain Park and Preserve. At over 2300 feet, Dobbins Lookout is the highest accessible point within South Mountain Park and Preserve, the perfect spot for watching the skies painted with yellow, red, golden, and orange as the sun goes down over the downtown skyline, the Greater Phoenix area, surrounded by majestic mountains in the valley.

There are two ways to reach Dobbins Lookout. You can hike the 4.6-mile round trip out and down Holbert Trail or take the easy route by car if you are not in the mood for a hike in the afternoon.

The views on the trail are far more rewarding, though, so it is the better choice if you are willing to sweat it a bit. The trail has only short stretches of incline at the start and the end but almost flats out in the middle.

Throughout the trail, you will be treated to the rustic wilderness of the 

Sonoran Desert landscapes are dotted with beautiful wildflowers if you are here in spring.

THUNDERBIRD CONSERVATION PARK(CHOLLA LOOP)

  • Distance from Phoenix – 24 miles
  • Driving duration – 30 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 4 to 6 miles one-way average
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Hiking duration – 3 to 4 hours
  • Parking – Available

One of the best sunset spots in Phoenix that has become popular is Thunder Mountain Conservation Park, located about 30 minutes from Phoenix. 

There are over 15 trails for hiking in this conservation area, which attracts many families and outdoor lovers. Among the best trails for sunset are Cholla Loop, a 4-mile out-and-back trail leading to a summit offering stunning vistas of the cacti-packed landscapes.

It also offers some fantastic sunrise views, so if you want to hike in Phoenix, check out the sunrise summit trail in Thunder Mountain Park.

Bring plenty of water and a hat, as there is zero shade. Watch out for tiny cacti along the edge of the trails, especially with pets and kids.

SONORAN DESERT PRESERVE(APACHE WASH TRAIL)

  • Distance from Phoenix – 29 miles
  • Driving duration – 30 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 2 miles one way
  • Hiking duration – 3 to 4 hours
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Parking – Available

If you are looking for offbeat sunset hikes in Phoenix, one of the best-secluded places to watch a sunset in Phoenix is near the Sonoran Desert Preserve on the Apache Wash trail hike.

Unlike the other trails for watching Phoenix sunset, the Apache Wash trail is a wide sidewalk and thus more accessible, meandering through the stunning preserve. 

You will cross bridges across the washes and pass through beautiful desert scapes before arriving at the vantage points to enjoy the sunset spectacle.

Although you may not be experiencing the heights of tall mountains like Piestewa or Camelback, the wide-open vistas of Apache Wash are unique to watching one of the best sunset in Phoenix on a short and more straightforward hike, ideal for beginners and families.

There is a large parking lot near the trailhead. On your sunset hike near Phoenix, you will find runners and hikers(mostly locals).

Two out-and-back options are available: a shorter, roughly 2-mile loop with moderate elevation change and a longer 5-mile loop with more significant elevation. 

If you want to do the shorter one, head right from the trailhead, where you pass to a minor hill along the bend. 

Both will pass through the wash before opening up to many viewpoints. Both trails offer splendid views. You can enjoy birdwatching and have an early picnic.

DEEM HILLS RECREATION AREA

  • Distance from Phoenix – 26 miles
  • Driving duration – 32 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 1.2 miles one way
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Hiking duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Parking – Available

One of the popular family-friendly parks near Phoenix is Deem Hills Recreation Area, which has plenty of hiking trails, lots of amenities, tennis courts, a playground, a dog park, and a soccer field. 

sunset time in phoenix

It is one of the great spots to watch the sunset in Phoenix if you prefer to get away from crowded and more popular spots like South Mountain. You can choose from the many trails categorized into the west and the east. 

The path is wide and well-laid, and you can quickly reach the vantage points, which makes it a perfect spot to enjoy a beautiful desert sunset with your family and pets.

WHITE TANK MOUNTAIN REGIONAL PARK

  • Distance from Phoenix – 36 miles
  • Driving duration – 1 hour
  • Average Hiking Distance – 1.2 miles one way
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Hiking duration – 1 to 2 hours
  • Parking – Available($7)

One of the largest parks in Arizona, White Tank Mountain Regional Park, located in west-central Maricopa County offers one of the best sunsets in Phoenix if you are up for a short drive out of the city and a hike.

Spread across 30,000 acres featuring miles and miles of untouched Sonoran desert wilderness, the park is a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, camping and picnics.

sunset in Phoenix today

If you plan a trip in the spring, you can do the Loop trail, a popular path leading to a waterfall before waiting to watch the beautiful sunset forming perfect backdrops to the landscapes dotted with saguaro, cholla and other cacti. Also, check out the hundreds-of-years-old petroglyphs belonging to Native Americans, the earliest inhabitants in the region.

It is not ideal for bringing pets or small children on this rail for the sunset trails as some paths are rocky.

LOST DUTCHMAN STATE PARK(SUPERSTITION MOUNTAINS)

  • Distance from Phoenix – 41 miles
  • Driving duration – 45 minutes
  • Average Hiking Distance – 1.5 miles to 6 miles(depending on the trails)
  • Difficulty level – Easy to Moderate
  • Parking – Available

Among the top places to watch the sunset in Phoenix is Lost Dutchman State Park, at the base of the beautiful Superstition Mountains near Apache Junction and Gold Canyon.

An hour’s drive from Phoenix will take you to Lost Dutchman State Park in the Sonoran Desert, which got its name after the fabled lost gold mine.

Whether the tales of the treasure are true or not, the real gem at Lost Dutchman Park is the magnificent sunrises over the Superstition Mountain ranges.

An icon of the East Valley in the Phoenix Area, it is a paradise for outdoor lovers. You can choose from the many trails that lead from the park into the Superstition Mountain Wilderness and surrounding Tonto National Forest.

Some popular routes include Flatiron via Siphon Draw(6.5 miles round trip), Massacre Falls Trail(5.5 miles out and back, which leads to Massacre Falls, one of the top waterfall hikes in Arizona) and Prospector’s View Trail(3.5 miles round trip). 

Jacob’s Crosscut Trail is 11.5 miles out and back trail that will take you through diverse vegetation and gorgeous views of 4 Peaks Wilderness, Camelback Mountain and other landmarks.

Stop along the trails to admire the saguaros, desert wildflowers and any local wildlife.

You can enjoy the vibrant spectacles of sunrise on one of these many hiking trails scattered across the park or from the comfort of your campsite or cabin.

Hues of pink, yellow, orange and red cast a beautiful glow over the mountain range adorning the Sonoran Desert.

Start your hike early enough to capture the gorgeous views painted across the sky at sunset in Phoenix. The parking lot is located at the entrance of Lost Dutchman State Park.

SUNSET LOOKOUT

  • Distance from Phoenix – 48 miles
  • Driving duration – 45 minutes
  • Parking – Available

If you are out of Phoenix on Interstate 17, you will come across one of the easy stopovers to catch a stunning sunset in Phoenix, overlooking the gorgeous Bradshaw Mountains at Sunset Lookout and the surrounding desert. You can also see a giant sundial. It is a perfect spot for a quick sunset getaway as you have many areas to picnic in, restrooms, and you can even bring your dogs on a leash.

MAP OF PHOENIX SUNSET SPOTS

TIPS FOR WATCHING THE SUNSET IN PHOENIX

Check the timings – Look for Phoenix sunset time before you plan your sunset hike, as the time slightly varies depending on the season you are visiting Phoenix. Usually, winter or early spring is the best time to go for sunset hikes in Phoenix, as the weather is excellent and the days are longer.

Calculate time for hiking – Depending on your fitness levels and your speed, you may take more time than the average estimates provided. It is best to have an idea of how long you may need, which allows you to time your sunrise hike in Phoenix correctly.

Carry essentials – Great hiking shoes with a good grip, headlamps, jackets, water, and snacks are a must, irrespective of the hike. It gets cold after sunset, so an added blanket with the jacket is a great idea.

Stay hydrated – Since it can be hot in the afternoon when you begin the hikes for sunset in Phoenix, it can be very hot as many trails are mostly un-shaded. Drink sufficient water to stay hydrated.

Protecting from the sun – Since you will be exposed to the heat likely, carry sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

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