Wake Up Early To See The Most Spectacular Sunrise At These Jaw-Dropping Viewpoints
New Year’s is often touted as
the time to start fresh and set intentions, but every day we have the opportunity to begin again. Waking up to see a sunrise is something we all ought to do at least once, though once you’ve experienced the humble-yet-awesome start to the day, you’ll likely want to do it again and again. While you can catch a sunrise from anywhere, our country has some amazing viewpoints and iconic overlooks that make the experience bucket-list worthy. Whether you’re an early bird or night owl, these sunrises across the U.S. are worth waking up early for.
Upper Tipsoo Lake - Mount Rainier National Park, Washington
Tipsoo Lake, Washington 98022, USA
Mount Rainier National Park
is an extraordinary expanse that epitomizes the mountainous majesty of the Pacific Northwest. It was the fifth national park established in the United States and the most glaciated park in the Lower 48. Known for its beautiful landscape, this national park is home to rolling hills, flower-covered meadows, astonishing mountains, breathtaking valleys, crystalline lakes, and an episodically active composite volcano. It's also one of the best places in the world to catch a sunrise, especially at Upper Tipsoo Lake. As the sun peeks over the horizon, this bright star sets Mount Rainier on fire; a sublime spectacle mirrored perfectly in the lake's icy cool waters.
Watchman Overlook - Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, USA
There's no place in the world quite like
, a national park quite literally designed to be admired. The lake is circumnavigated by the 33-mile Rim Drive, which also happens to be the highest paved road in Oregon. The full loop is usually open from June through October and features 30 scenic pullouts. Our favorite overlook, however, is Watchman Peak, a spot offering dramatic views of the breathtaking body of water. Located on the Watchman Peak Trail, the eponymous viewpoint overlooks the jaw-dropping Crater Lake and surrounding scenery, an experience that tops itself come sunrise. While Crater Lake is known for its amazing nighttime skies, watching the sun peek over the horizon makes the lake almost blindingly beautiful, an experience sure to have you catching your breath.
Taft Point - Yosemite National Park, California
Taft Point, California 95389, USA
There are many places to marvel over the arrival of a new day
Yosemite National Park
, but none quite compare to the serene sublimity of a sunrise at Taft Point. The hike to the overlook is just two miles round-trip, making it one of the most blissfully accessible trails in the park. As you get closer to Taft Point, you'll traverse the Fissures, giant vertical gashes in the granite cliffs. From there, hikers can walk right up to the cliff's edge and gaze straight down to the bottom of the valley. In the distance, a sweeping panorama that includes El Capitan and Yosemite Falls creates a scene that's especially splendid at sunrise.
Toroweap Overlook - North Rim at the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Toroweap Overlook, Littlefield, AZ 86432, USA
There's nothing as grand as a sunrise at *the* Grand Canyon, and the views afforded at
Toroweap Overlook in the North Rim
are absolutely picture-perfect. This point is located a whopping 3,000 feet above the Grand Canyon floor, boasting unparalleled views of volcanic cinder cones, ancient lava flow, and Colorado River rapids. At daybreak, when the sun peeks over the seemingly endless expanse, its diffraction spikes radiate brighter than any star in the sky, creating a golden glow that's positively divine. If you've never witnessed an iconic Arizona sunrise from this jaw-dropping spot, it's truly an awe-inspiring experience.
Sunrise Point - Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Sunrise Point, Utah 84764, USA
In the otherworldly expanse of Utah's Bryce Canyon, hoodoos and canyons offer an incredible setting to experience a truly sublime sunrise -- or sunset. The aptly named
all but guarantees this to be true; in fact, many flock to the national park well before sunrise in order to catch a glimpse of the sun just peeking over the horizon. Of course, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point boast equally resplendent views, and we recommend visiting each over several days to discover your favorite sunrise viewpoint.
Big Badlands Overlook - Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Big Badlands Overlook, Interior, SD 57750, USA
Nestled away in the heart of the Black Hills of South Dakota,
Badlands National Park
is one of the most easy-to-recognize spots in the Midwest, thanks to its colorful buttes and striking pinnacles. Encompassing some 242,756 acres, the Badlands were formed an estimated 69-million years ago as a result of geologic forces of deposition and erosion, making them not only beautiful but incredibly ancient; a place of life-affirming and humbling grandeur. At sunrise, the hills slowly begin to come alive, like a cascade of dawn-lit dominoes in the horizon. Whether you snap a sunrise shot from one of the trails or stand high above the formations via the Big Badlands Overlook, you are guaranteed a jaw-dropping, picture-perfect, bucket-list-worthy experience.
Palo Duro Canyon, Texas
Palo Duro Canyon, Texas 79226, USA
The Grand Canyon of Texas
is a marvelous place to catch a sunrise; an experience sure to have you marveling over the grandeur of the Lone Star State. Within the eponymous state park, there are numerous ways to explore the canyon (the second largest in the country), starting with its 30 miles of trails. This canyon is 120 miles long and 20 miles wide, and is up to 800 feet deep in some areas. A place of immense history, you can see the beautiful colors of four geologic layers painted on the colossal canyon walls, which come ablaze at sunrise. The canyon began forming a million years ago -- but the walls of the canyon tell a much older geologic story, one that began 250 million years ago! Prepare to experience total awe and wonder at Palo Duro Canyon, a place that tops itself come sunrise.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore - Outer Banks, North Carolina
Cape Hatteras National Park Road, Cape Hatteras National Park Rd, Nags Head, NC 27959, USA
The easternmost point in North Carolina, if you’re going to catch an epic sunrise, this spot along The Outer Banks is the place to do it. With its rolling sand dunes and dazzling shoreline, and pink-and-purple hued sunrises, the beaches of Cape Hatteras offer amazing and no-hike spots to catch a great morning show. Afterward, be sure to check out the most iconic lighthouse in North Carolina, the commanding
, which is especially vibrant against the dawn-lit skies!
Oconaluftee Overlook - Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina
Oconaluftee River Overlook, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Cherokee, NC 28719, USA
At the beloved
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
, scenic views and swoon-worthy overlooks abound. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Oconaluftee Overlook is the very first overlook you'll happen upon when entering the Blue Ridge Parkway at its southern entrance. A parking lot makes this overlook quite accessible, offering sublime views as the blue-tinged Smokies turn all shades of the rainbow at sunrise.
Towers Tunnel Overlook - Breaks Interstate Park, Virginia
Tower Tunnel Trail, Virginia 24256, USA
Situated on the border of Virginia and Kentucky,
Breaks Interstate Park
is a sublime treasure that's often overlooked for the former's Shenandoah and the latter's Red River Gorge. While both of these places offer amazing outdoor recreation, Breaks Interstate Park -- or "The Breaks" as it's affectionally called -- is a hidden gem not to be overlooked -- especially come sunrise. The Breaks is mostly known for its incredible views and a history that includes Daniel Boone and a gorge that was slowly carved out over time by the now Russell Fork River. Many of the 25 miles of hiking trails throughout the park offer views like this, so be sure to bring along comfortable shoes. And as you can imagine, these views are jaw-dropping all year long, and for a sublime sunrise, nothing beats the vistas offered at Towers Tunnel Overlook in Virginia.
Cadillac Mountain - Acadia National Park, Maine
Cadillac Mountain, Bar Harbor, ME 04609, USA
Being the first in the U.S. to gaze upon the sunrise of a new day is an opportunity that shouldn't be passed up. There's nothing like experiencing the sunrise atop
, a place that, from around the second week in October through the first week of March, is the first place to see the sun rise in America. Accessible by car, it's the highest point on the East Coast, and even if you visit during the "off" season, the sunrises here are truly worth waking up early for.
Haleakala National Park - Maui, Hawaii
Haleakal? National Park, Hawaii, USA
The crown jewel of Maui,
Haleakala National Park
covers an area of approximately 33,200 acres, of which 19,200 are designated wilderness area. Its volcanic slopes and dramatic peaks make for an otherworldly landscape that's especially stunning at daybreak. The name Haleakala directly translates to "house of the sun" in Hawaiian. A fitting name, considering the sunrises and sunsets from the summit are second to none.
When was the last time you woke up early to see the sun rise? There is nothing like being the first to greet a new day, and once you’ve experienced a sunrise at one of these epic viewpoints, you’ll be happily jumping out of bed to do it again and again!
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