Summer time – and the sunset is seductive. With this season’s more relaxed pace, we’re better able to enjoy the magical twilight that colorfully transitions from light to dark and marks another day’s trip. Inspired by changing beauty: “Look!” we say, pointing to where the earth meets air. A bowl begins if there is a libation. For the social media that is smart, clicks on phone cameras, pictures are sent instantly, a sharing and thumbs up of fleeting glorious moments. Sometimes the golden glow of the globe is soft and evokes Monet-like masterpieces – chrome yellow, viridian and emerald green, French ultramarine, cobalt blue. Other times, the fireball burns intensely amidst vibrant hues reminiscent of Van Gogh-like bold brushstrokes – cadmium yellow, chrome orange, Prussian blue, red ocher, raw sienna, vermilion. Yet palettes that capture our attention are only part of the equation in top twilight. The location is integrated like any cloud formation. No two skylights seem to be alike. It is the inherent joy of the sunset – and why we are drawn to its daily picturesque walk-time gift.
Among many famous American hotspots for very cool sunsets, here are notable favorites.
Malibus shores enchant. El Matador, one of three beautiful pocket beaches within Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach, is a gem. Surf buzzes around on amazing ocean stacks; the sun’s rays play shadow dance. A trail of wooden stairs leads past unique rock forms to pristine sand (best accessible in the morning at low tide for further exploration).
El Matador’s eye-catching evening while lying on the nearby bluff is a dignified way to meditate on the sands of time. Pack a basket of delicious chunks for a late-day picnic table party overlooking the Pacific Ocean via the Pacific Coast Highway. The sunset is a sweet dessert.
For more travel information: Visit California.
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With a huge bounty of spectacular scenery, the Grand Canyon National Park on 1,218,375 acres is second to none. The gorge itself stretches 277 miles. Its wildlife is also a colossal blessing: great horned sheep, bison, coyotes, gray foxes, mountain lions, gila monsters, mule deer, rocky mountain algae and birds of prey – from massive California condors (with 9.5 foot wingspan) to peregrine falcons (the fastest bird in world that can run towards its goal more than 200 miles per hour). Follow the path of time to understand the creation of this geological giant. Adventure further afield, hike and bike alone or book a guided excursion, such as wheeling expertise from Bright Angel Bicycles.
The South Rim offers the sharpest vantage point at sunset. Mather Point in Grand Canyon Village is popular as well as Hopi Point because they are easily accessible – even though they are usually crowded. Quieter convention: Mohave Point, Yaki Point, Desert View, Yavapai Point. An ultimate thrill: the Grand Canyon Floor Landing Helicopter Sunset Tour by Canyon Tours.
For more travel information: Visit Arizona.
Called the River of Grass, Everglades National Park – the wonderful 1.5 million acre wetlands of southern Florida – is quilted with coastal mangroves, sawdust, moss forest. A special choice sunset sighting is near Mrazek Pond, about three miles north of the Flamingo Visitor Center. Navigate the park independently, or choose a guided tour, such as the Sunset Champagne Photo Experience and the Sunset Kayak of Everglades Area Tours.
Wildlife abounds: American crocodiles, West Indian manatees, endangered leatherback turtles, the elusive Florida panther. This is a birder paradise that is also home to more than 360 species. Canoes and kayaks; waterways weave hundreds of miles. Join a ranger-led hike. Bike through shiny forests. This escape can be a peace of mind journey to discover new things about yourself.
For more travel information: Visit Florida.
In Hawaiian, Haleakalā means “house of the sun.” Visiting the 33,265-acre Haleakalā National Park on the island of Maui can be a powerful emotional experience. Be captivated by the area’s extraordinary terrain, habitat, rare birds (like Nēnē) and endangered species found nowhere else. The Haleakalā crater, a huge dormant volcano 10,023 feet above sea level (about 30,000 feet high if measured from its base on the ocean floor), is famous for its sunrises – so much so that sunrises from dawn gather in the middle of the night to low it long drive up a winding road to Haleakala’s summit in hopes of seeing what Mark Twain called “the most sublime spectacle I’ve ever witnessed.”
Still Haleakalā’s sunsets are just as amazing. As fewer people arrive late in the day, a more personal participation in the sunset is possible. Consider a private or group sunset excursion via Haleakalā Eco Tours and Hawaii Tours. Bonus after sunset: Typical clear night sky allows for amazing star gazing; bring binoculars. The esteemed Haleakalā Observatory, headed by the University of Hawaii’s Institute of Astronomy, is located near the Visitor Center; it performs astrophysical experiments and orbits satellites.
For more travel information: Go to Hawaii.
New Mexico Allure
Another world war in the Tularosa Basin in the Chihuahuan Desert must be seen in person to be fully appreciated: approx. 275 square kilometers of strong-white gypsum crystals (aqueous calcium sulphate), which at first look like sparkling freshly fallen snow. Blink a few times as you focus on the undulating dunes while your brain ricochets to make sense of White Sands National Park at 115 square miles. There is a peaceful spirit here, a life-affirming dynamic as the dunes shift and inch by inch spread. Run the 16-mile loop in the heart of the dune field. Hike some of the five marked trails that vary in difficulty. Slide the plaster piles as if they were mini-ski slopes (made on round saucer slices sold in the visitor entrance shop). Explore the remote San Andreas Mountains as the sun glides over sharp peaks. Then lift your eyes upward to an ink-black dome of twinkling-twinkling-twinkling stars. Do you have a wish?
For more travel information: New Mexico true and visit Las Cruces.
New York Brilliance
At the top of the cliff in New York City’s iconic Rockefeller Center, a 70th outdoor observation deck reveals a 360-degree unobstructed panorama. Arrive there late in the afternoon with plenty of time to enjoy the exhibits, pause for deep breaths and consider the magnificent metropolis below. Its more than 8 million inhabitants speak more than 800 languages, the most linguistically diverse city on the planet. Its coastline stretches 520 miles – longer than the combined coasts of Boston, Los Angeles, Miami and San Francisco. Its 843-acre Central Park – lushly landscaped and lovingly cared for by the Central Park Conservancy – is smack dab in the middle of expensive Manhattan properties, guaranteeing both New Yorkers and visitors a generously sized, nature-filled, green space that is also ideal for solitude as plenty. of activities from root boat on a picturesque lake to the applause of free concerts and theater. Wildlife (perhaps surprising to visitors) abounds throughout NYC’s dozens of parks in the five boroughs, shelters for thousands of different animal species. Stare at skyscrapers and apartment buildings and shops galore. Consider the Big Apple’s more than 80 museums and more than 25,000 eateries.
So as dusk approaches, observe how the sun amplifies its spark on the city that never sleeps. A long-lasting brightness hovers just long enough that if you are willing to open your heart, the scenic sunset can force you to whisper, “I love New York.”
For more travel information: NYC & Company.