One of Arizona’s greatest pleasures is sitting outside in the evening. And watching the sky transform from a brilliant Blue; to a Technicolor rainbow of bright yellows, hot pinks, and fiery reds and oranges. These psychedelic sunsets really are unlike any around the world thanks to the unique atmosphere of the desert. We watch the most pleasureful and beautiful sunset in Scottsdale.
Arizona’s arid climate causes airborne particles to scatter the setting sun’s refracting light; producing saturated colors that diffuse and reflect off high clouds. Naturally, the most spectacular sunset in Scottsdale occurs during the monsoon season; which is usually between Mid June and Mid September.
The effects are stunning. The Sonoran Desert simply glows when “magic hour” bathes the desert floor in the warm tones of sunset. Mountains appear to change colors. Shadows lengthen. Cacti and other desert plants reveal a sculptural beauty. Lucky for residents and visitors, there are plenty of places to enjoy the daily light show; whether your tastes run outdoor adventurer or evening cocktail.
However, you can catch a fabulous sunset in Scottsdale during any time of year at these FIVE places;
1. Desert Botanical Garden
The Desert Botanical Garden in nearby Phoenix is an idyllic, peaceful spot where you can catch the sunset while surrounded by a natural desert landscape. You can explore large scale floral and plant sculptures in the late afternoon; and linger until dusk to make it a really special event.
The beautifully curated Desert Botanical Garden has one of the most impressive plant collections in the world; and the transition from day to night triggers an extraordinary transformation in the garden. The air cools, flowers close and the iconic saguaro cactus; becomes a beautifully silhouetted figure against the changing backdrop of colors and light.
2. McDowell Sonoran Preserve
To see the Sonoran Desert at its most beautiful, visit one of the five trailheads at this 30,000-acre refuge in northern Scottsdale. You’ll be surrounded by pristine desert, with panoramic views of the McDowell Mountains; and this ecologically diverse landscape that includes; barrel and cholla cacti, green barked palo verde trees, Gila woodpeckers, cottontails, and desert reptiles.
The McDowell Sonoran Preserve, a large and permanently protected sustainable desert habitat; is packed with fabulous hiking and multi use trails; and there are plenty of perfect vantage points to catch the sunset. The best places for sunset viewing within McDowell Sonoran Preserve include:
- Tom’s Thumb Trail
- Ringtail Trail
- Brown’s Ranch
Towering saguaro cacti, colossal boulders, rolling desert foothills, and lush riparian washes are just a few of the photo ops that await you along more than 225 miles of hiking trails in Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve.
To capture a Technicolor desert sunset; make sure you’re close to the trailhead as the sun starts to dip below the sky; then pause and wait for the show. You’ll be rewarded with the vibrant glow of backlit cholla, dramatic shadows cast by large saguaro cacti; and flushes of rich desert color. If nature photography is your jam, the Preserve is a must see on your itinerary!
Rattlesnake season typically runs from May through October, although you may run into snakes at any time of year. Stay alert, stick to the trails and never put your feet where you can’t see them. Rattlers won’t chase you, but you should definitely move backward slowly and deliberately. And alert Preserve staff if you see one on the trail.
3. Orange Sky at Talking Stick Resort
The Orange Sky restaurant at the Talking Stick Resort was literally designed with Arizona’s amber and saffron streaked sunsets in mind. Located on the 15th floor of the hotel, the restaurant’s floor to ceiling windows provide you with a 360-degree view of the desert, mountains, and Valley’s famed sunsets, along with a menu brimming with seafood, steaks, and locally sourced produce.
Highlights include a 12 oz. chile citrus blasted veal chop, Australian lamb chops in a honey and pistachio crust; and an award winning wine list topping 300 bottles and 30 wines by the glass.
Step onto the open air terrace to enjoy a glass of wine, or reserve a western-facing table inside.
4. Sanctuary Camelback Resort
Set on the side of Camelback Mountain with a view of Paradise Valley. The elements restaurant is sleek and stylish with floor to ceiling windows framing spectacular views; perfect for a romantic photo opp.
Be sure to sit with a cocktail in hand on the patio of the resort’s Jade Bar, and watch the sunset over Camelback and Mummy mountains. The hotel’s clean, modernist design and desert views are the perfect complements to the setting sun.
5. Pinnacle Peak Park
This is a truly spectacular place to catch an explosively colored sunset in Scottsdale. The hike to the top is fairly easy; with a cumulative elevation gain of 1,300 feet over 1.75 miles (one way). At the top of the trail; you’re 2,889 feet above sea level and you get panoramic views of the entire sky.
Pinnacle Peak is one of my favorite places to watch and capture the sunset in Scottsdale. The wide, clear summit trail rewards hearty hikers with expansive views of Scottsdale and the surrounding Sonoran Desert. Even if you stay close to the trailhead; you’ll find plenty of nature inspired photo ops; from seasonal wildflowers and massive saguaro cacti to craggy boulder formations.
Hike the trail before sunrise, too. If you time it right; you’ll be able to catch the sun peeking over the sky when you make it to the peak.
To read about The Best Parks and Gardens in BARCELONA.