On a clear day, experience has taught us that watching a sunrise or sunset is a lot easier on the eyes than at noon. When it's right above us, all those rays pass through a relatively thin atmosphere. But at dusk, the sun is more parallel with the earth's surface, meaning all that light is geometrically coming at you from a steeper angle and through a lot more atmosphere.
Adding to the visual appeal is the fact that the atmosphere filters out many of the shorter wavelengths of colors like green, blue and violent. Longer wavelengths featuring red, orange and yellow aren't so obstructed by a thicker atmosphere, which is why sunsets have that fiery look.
But a mountain view of a sunset is something else. For openers, because of the elevation, you can see it set longer than if you were at the same location in lieu of a peak to stand on. And since the air getting a little thinner they higher you're up on a mountain, the atmosphere allows for more of those other colors of the spectrum to show up.
It's like watching a drive-in movie from way up high. There's no plot to follow, but who cares? And while plenty of mountain ranges offer a cool view of a day's end, here are some of the most popular.
A Maui Wowie Experience
Hawaii's known for its sun, sand, and surf, but if you're on a more mountainous island, the sun provides an additional treat. Its sunsets are so spectacular many of the national parks offer access to visitors to watch everyone's favorite celestial body put on a show.
Haleakala National Park on Maui is one of the more popular destinations to catch the sun in action before disappearing for the night. It's best to get to the park at least an hour early to get directions from the visitor center, then it's off to the summit. At night, it helps if clouds are around to add a touch of crimson to the proceedings. But otherwise, it's a great opportunity for folks to catch what's called The Golden Hour.
Blue Ridge Mountains Turn Into A Georgie O'Keeffe Painting
While legendary painter Georgia O'Keeffe mostly created work inspired by her New Mexico surroundings, her choice of colors, especially bold reds and oranges, could easily apply to sunsets further east in the U.S. And nowhere more kaleidoscopic are those hues more evident than in the Blue Ridge Mountains stretching across the Carolinas, Georgia, Maryland Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
The best place to catch them in the range is along the Blue Ridge Parkway, boasting 500 miles of road with overlooks designed to catch the evening spectacle. It's an occasion to catch those reds, oranges, and yellows, with blues, violets, and greens bouncing off clouds and other airborne particles to complete an atmospheric canvas.
The Peaks Are Set Aglow In The Himalayas
It's not likely you'll be able to see the sunset atop any of the Himalayan peaks in Nepal. The elevation is pretty high and unless you're extremely fit and don't have an issue wearing an oxygen mask, the sky is the limit when it comes to a front-slope view. If you're lucky, you might be able to catch a peek between its peaks. But the bonus is that you get to see the sun use the Himalayas like a projection screen as the rocky surfaces reflect the visual majesty of a Nepalese sunset.
One option to catch this view from up high is via Nepal's Himalayan Sunrise and Sunset Tour, a nine-day excursion through the country. Besides catching the sun on the horizon, the tour also includes tours and temples in such spots as Kathmandu, Bandipur, and Pokhara. Some locations even have towers to view the sunsets.
A Panorama Of Crimson In The Andes
There's every little to dispute regarding ranges when it comes to South America, the north-south stretch of the Andes is one of the most popular sunset locales. But beyond that, however, Argentina and Chile would forever be butting heads about which country boasts better views.
According to Trip Advisor, some of the most popular sunset tours in Chile take place in Santiago, the country's capital, where the Andes are just a blink of an eyelid away from view. Most of the tours, naturally involve Chilean wine.
But if you want to get a bit more rustic to catch the kaleidoscope from higher up, sunset buffs opt for Mount Aconcagua in Argentina's Parque San Martin. Although Aconcagua is the highest peak in the Andes, it's easily accessible via hiking trails making it more convenient to see the sights at night.
The Sun Paints A Carpathian Canvas
While mountains tend to offer more picturesque sunset scenes than their flatland counterparts, there's something about the rages in Eastern Europe that's different when witnessing nightfall. It's as if there's a mood being set in the sky. Perhaps the oncoming darkness is a stark reminder of the region's wartorn past or maybe it has something to do with the lush vegetation on these lower-altitude slopes that symbolize how precious life really is.
Regardless, you can't get much more melancholy than witnessing the sunset in Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains and locals are eager to point out Mount Hoverla, which at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet is the range's tallest peak. Besides visiting the mountain to catch a view of a sunset that seemingly has its own story to tell, another amenity is witnessing agrarian life that is still defiantly traditional, even after decades of change elsewhere in the world.