Death Valley is a magical place, full of otherworldly landscapes, poisonous creatures and hot temperatures. There is also plenty of sun in Death Valley meaning this is a great place to catch a desert sunset. There are a few epic sunset locations in Death Valley and this post will list 6 of the best places to watch the sunset in Death Valley.
- List of Sunset locations in Death Valley:
- Best Time to visit Death Valley for sunset
- Best Place to stay to watch the Death Valley sunset
- Photography Tips for Death Valley Sunset
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Epic Sunset locations in Death Valley National Park
Sunset at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Mesquite Flat sand dunes are consistently cited to be one of the best spots for sunset in Death Valley.
Located just a stone’s throw from Highway 190, you see these huge dunes long before arriving at the car park. Some of the Mesquite flat sand dunes are 30m (100 feet) high and they are not even the tallest sand dunes in Death Valley national park.
Given their proximity to the highway, Mesquite flat sand dunes are understandably a very busy spot but the further out you go, the fewer footprints you will find. Also, most of visitors to Mesquite sand dunes are during the day. If you wait for the late afternoon not only will you enjoy slightly cooler temperatures but fewer crowds. Furthermore, the late sun turns the desert dunes into golden orange wonders.
There is no set trail so make your own. You do not need to worry about foot path erosion as the winds are constantly changing and shifting these geographical wonders. There are no facilities such as toilets or drinking water at Mesquite Sand dunes either. Just you and some amazing sand dunes.
It is also said to be a good place to star gaze or see the full moon from. Just be careful to watch out for rattle snakes!
The Mesquite sand dunes are an amazing place to watch the sunset in Death Valley.
Sunset at Badwater Basin
Fancy watching the sunset from the lowest point in North America? Then watching the sunset from Badwater Basin could be the perfect Death Valley National Park sunset location for you.
Badwater Basin is 86m below sea level, making it the lowest point in North America. Intense heat can be found here but if you come a little later in the day you will enjoy slightly more pleasant temperatures.
Badwater Basin received its name after a surveyor’s donkey refused to drink from the pool by the Bad Water car park. The surveyor wrote on his map next to the pool “Bad Water” and the name stuck. For the best sunset you will want to go out a little further from the pool. Walk around a mile to reach the famous salt flats and watch the sunset from there.
You can park at Bad Water and factor walking around 20 minutes before reaching the salt flats. Arrive here 1 – 2 hours before sunset so you have plenty of time to walk. You do not want to be rushing in this hot place!
Sunset at Zabriskie point
Zabriskie Point is one of Death Valley’s most incredible sunset locations!
Zabriskie Point is said to be a wonderful place for sunrise, yet did you know it is just as incredible at sunset? The sunset at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley rewards visitors with epic views of the Badlands and otherworldly landscapes.
From the Zabriskie point overlook you can admire the naked, sun-baked landscape full of rounded cliffs and black mountains. Colourful bands of orange and yellow rock sediments dance across the cliff faces. Of course, you can also catch the Death Valley National Park sunset.
Zabriskie Point is an easy sunset location to access. You can park just a few meters from the Zabriskie Point view point in a designated car park. In the car park there are WC facilities but no free drinking water.
Did you know that it is fairly easy to find free drinking water in Death Valley National Park? Many people don’t know that in the hottest place in North America, there are at least 4 spots in the national park where you can fill up your water bottle for free! Check out this post about 15 things no one tells you about Death Valley National Park to find out where.
From the Zabriskie car park, you can walk up a short-paved path to the Zabriskie view point to admire this epic Death Valley sunset!
Due to the mountains in the distance, the sun goes down a little earlier. Therefore, try to arrive an hour or so before sunset for the best chance of catching the sunset at Zabriskie point.
Sunset at Dante’s view
The sunset at Dante’s view shows the scale of Death Valley in all its glory.
If you are looking to get up high in Death Valley, watching the sunset from Dante’s view could be the view point for you! Dante’s View is located in the Black Mountains at 1,669 m (5,476 ft). From there you can see the lowest point in North America in Bad Water Basin.
Dante’s View is named from Dante Alighieri, who wrote the Divine Comedy. He described the nine circles of Hell, the seven terraces of Purgatory and the nine spheres of Paradise. When some businessmen were looking for the best view in Death Valley, they wanted a name which would be good for marketing purposes. In keeping with other wonderfully named places in Death Valley such as Furnace Creek, Chloride City and Hell’s Gate – Dante’s view was chosen. Whether Death Valley is your idea of hell or paradise, the sunset will not fail to impress you. Again, Dante’s view is said to be a great spot to watch the sunrise but the sunset colours are arguably more dramatic.
You can drive up the mountain to Dante’s viewpoint. There are trails leading to the north and south for you to explore. Neither trail is more than a mile long.
Arrive an hour or so before sunset as the sun disappears behind the mountains a little earlier.
There are no toilets or free drinking water at Dante’s viewpoint.
Sunset in Golden Canyon
This is a great sunset spot for those who like to catch the sun flares in their photos.
Golden Canyon is a popular canyon walk in Death Valley. Given the geography of this place, the sunset happens much earlier than in other parts of Death Valley. Whilst you may want to do this canyon hike in the sunshine to admire the golden colours, some may want to consider coming to Golden Canyon towards the end of the day. Seeing the sun disappear behind the canyon walls is very cool! This also makes Golden Canyon one of the best instagram spots in Death Valley National Park.
Warning: Be aware that slot canyons can become dangerous in wet weather. If there is any sign of rain do not enter the slot canyon. Click here for the ultimate survival guide to death valley.
Sunset at Artist’s Palate
Artist’s Palate is a lesser-known sunset destination in Death Valley.
The Artist’s Palate is a collection of hills covered in green, pink, red, yellow and orange hues. These unusual colours are caused by the oxidation of different metals. Iron compounds create the cool pinks, the vibrant reds and friendly yellows. Manganese produces purple hues and the decomposition of tuff-derived mica makes green shades.
To reach the Artist’s Palate you must go on the one-way Artist’s Drive. This 9-mile drive weaves its way around the colourful hills. About halfway is where you will find the Artist’s Palate. From there you can get out and explore on foot. From here you can also watch the Death Valley sunset.
Given the nature of the thin canyons, arrive 1 to 2 hours before sunset otherwise it will be too dark to enjoy the Death Valley sunset at Artist’s Palate.
Best time to visit Death Valley for sunsets
In terms of choosing a sunny day in Death Valley, you are best to visit during the summer months. May to October are the sunniest months in Death Valley when the average sunlight is around 88 to 93 %. Winter has slightly less sunlight yet remains above 75%. This is much higher than the North American average. The reason Death Valley receives much more sunlight is that the Sierra mountain range to the West, forces rain and clouds upwards. The mountains block this precipitation and keep the moisture away from the desert. This natural barrier has helped create the unique desert landscape of Death Valley.
Yet in the shoulder seasons, the sun is lower meaning you have a better chance of capturing epic colours and dramatic skies.
Whilst clear skies are never guaranteed, you have a good chance of catching the sun whatever time of year you visit Death Valley.
For more California sunset inspiration, check out this post on where to watch the sunset in Yosemite national park!
Best Place to stay in Death Valley to watch the sunset
Where should you stay in Death Valley to watch the sunset?
There are many great places to watch the sunset from in Death Valley. You can watch an epic sunset from the Inn or from Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. Otherwise, stay where you like and just drive to your accommodation after watching a spectacular Death Valley sunset.
Use this booking.com tool to find the perfect place to stay in Death Valley national park!
Photography Tips for the Death Valley Sunset
Here are a few tips to help you capture the perfect Death Valley sunset!
- Know what time sunset is! – You will not be able to take epic photos of the sunset if you don’t know what time sunset will be!
- Check the weather – you need to know if a sunset is likely to happen or not
- Bring a tripod – there is less lighting in the evening, meaning a tripod will help you maximise the available light
- Arrive early to get a good spot – It will not be fun trying to find a spot at Zabriskie Point if you arrive just before the sunset
Which sunset in Death Valley do you like the sound of?
Which sunset location in Death Valley national park would you like to watch the sunset from? Would you like to watch it from a view point such as Zabriskie point or at Dante’s view? Or do you like the sound of watching the sunset at the US’s hottest point? Maybe the Artist’s palate or the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are calling you and your camera. Let us know in the comments below which sunset in Death Valley you would most like to see!