Where Are the Best Sunrises in the National Park System?
Where do you find the best view of sunrise in the National Park System? Would it be on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, or, perhaps more logically, at Sunrise in Mount Rainier National Park?
Cadillac Mountain certainly has a lot going for it. After all, at certain times of the year it's the first place on the Eastern Seaboard to bask in the waking day's sunshine, and with all that blue water, gray granite, and green forest as a backdrop, well, can it get much better?
Mount Rainier's Sunrise certainly has the name going for it, and, truthfully, the view is pretty spectacular.
People who collect sunrises know that weather really matters. For instance, there's that incredible viewshed you can drink in while shivering at the summit of 10,023-foot Mount Haleakala in Haleakala National Park on Maui. But depending on the trade winds, you get to see either one of the world’s most spectacular sunrise vistas or just a whole bunch of clouds.
Where else in the park system is the morning sun a glory to behold? And what parameters matter most to you? Does it subtract from the experience if you're sharing the sunrise with two or three dozen other folks? Does the "no pain, no gain" axiom apply? Should it be a struggle to reach your chosen vantage point? Is sunrise more potent in winter than summer or in fall when it ignites the surrounding forests' changing leaves?
Among the places I've admired it are from the top of the Grand Teton in Grand Teton National Park, from Point Imperial on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and deep in the backcountry along Yellowstone Lake. Of course, that raises another question. Is the view deemed spectacular simply because of the view, or because of where you are at the moment? Obviously, from the top of Cadillac Mountain or the Grand Teton or Point Imperial you have a much grander, horizon-stretching view than you would from a backcountry campsite in Great Smoky, the Everglades, or Zion, where I was able to enjoy the soft, early morning light paint Kolob Arch, transforming it from a pale, cold slumbering ribbon of rock to a fiery masterpiece of erosion.
But if you truly believe enjoying life to the fullest means reveling in the moment, aren't the rays you feel in places that are gorgeous without sheer drops or expansive horizons just as rich?
So tell us: Where in the parks do you go to catch your favorite sunrises?