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In Flagstaff, early risers and sunset lovers have distinctive options for observing the day begin or end. Be inspired by dawn at the water’s edge, watch pink clouds suspended like feathers above mountain silhouettes or anticipate the sun slipping away from the high desert. Here are ten of the best places to watch sunrises and sunsets in Flagstaff and the surrounding areas.
Watching the sunrise across water chock-full of waterfowl makes the duck ponds at Continental a favorite place of Flagstaff photographers and birdwatchers alike. A concrete path circles the ponds and benches beg you to rest and contemplate—east of the intersection of N Country Club Drive and E Old Walnut Canyon Road.
Early morning drives out Lake Mary Road can be richly rewarded with sightings of elk and pronghorn. The four-legged creatures often graze the Lower Lake Mary meadow at sunrise. Fact is, they are frequently there at sunset, too. Turning your eyes skyward, you may see the Bald eagles and osprey that nest at the lake.
Where to watch the sunrise in Flagstaff? Another local’s favorite is Lockett Meadow. The narrow mountain road that you must drive to get there makes the excursion a real adventure. We recommend that you camp overnight to see the dawn’s first light from this high country location. Get your driving directions here.
[ https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recarea/?recid=55110 ]
Kendrick Park offers wide-open spaces for viewing the skies. A favorite of stargazers, this large meadow surrounded by aspen groves and Ponderosa pines is also perfect for catching one of the best Flagstaff sunrises. While you’re there, check out the Kendrick Park Watchable Wildlife Trail. Off Highway 180 north of Arizona Nordic Center in the Coconino National Forest.
Take a sunrise hike to the top of Mount Elden via Elden Lookout Trail #4. The strenuous trek to the fire lookout tower delivers spectacular views of east Flagstaff and the surrounding cinder cone hills. Don’t want to hoof it up the mountain? You can drive Mt Elden Lookout Road to near the top.
Drive to Wupatki National Monument to watch the setting sun light up the Painted Desert from the overlook on Loop Road. Or capture the sun’s setting rays on the walls of multi-storied, prehistoric pueblos. Hundreds of acres of open land strewn with massive, multi-roomed ruins make magical spots to anticipate the setting sun.
Watch the sun dip below the western horizon from Arizona Snowbowl resort. From the lower parking lot, watch the sun play over the hills and mountains below. On a clear day, you can see the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the north. This spot on the western slope of the San Francisco Peaks is one of the best places to watch the sunset Flagstaff.
Just west of town, you can capture great shots of the mountains bathed in the setting sun. Garland Prairie is a favorite of local photographers and others hunting the best Flagstaff sunsets. Go west on I-40 to Exit 178, turn left onto Fire Road 141 and then merge onto Garland Prairie Road.
Within the city limits, Buffalo Park is another area to catch the best Flagstaff sunsets. Late daylight reflecting off the San Francisco Peaks can be quite spectacular. Buffalo Park’s convenient location just north of the hospital makes this a perfect place to snag a sunset after dinner in historic downtown. Or set out earlier to catch the alpenglow while ending your hike or bike excursion. Buffalo Park also delivers some of the best Flagstaff sunrises.
For the best Flagstaff sunsets near historic downtown, check out the parking lot on Mars Hill. Watch the city lights blossom as the sunsets and the colors in the eastern sky swirl. Afterward, head up to Lowell Observatory for their night sky programs. Weatherford Hotel’s Zane Grey Room is another spot to catch a majestic sunset. Enjoy a Tequila Sunrise on the patio outside Altitudes Bar & Grill, or drive to the parking lot at San Francisco de Assisi church for a heavenly spectacle.
Stacey Wittig’s adventures have led her up the Inca Trail in Peru eating fried caterpillars, across the plains of Spain enjoying steamed barnacles, and through the vineyards of Cinque Terre sipping Chianti Classico. “The Grand Canyon State is a remarkable place to call home,” declares the wandering writer, who writes from her home in Flagstaff.