13 Best Spots for Montana Sunsets and Sunrises

Have you ever found yourself chasing the perfect Montana sunset, one that ignites the sky in a blaze of colors and leaves you in awe of nature’s grandeur? I’ve journeyed through the state’s majestic terrain, from the serene lakes to the rugged peaks, each offering a unique backdrop for the evening’s light show.

I’ll guide you through a curated list of 13 must-visit locations that promise the most breathtaking Montana sunset experiences. From the reflective waters of Flathead Lake to the alpine wonder of Hidden Lake, each spot offers a distinct view of the sky’s transformation.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a photography enthusiast, or simply someone who appreciates the profound beauty of a day’s end, this guide speaks to you. 

Keep reading to discover where you can witness the evening sky’s transformation into a masterpiece, and why you’ll want to add these spots to your travel bucket list.

Key Takeaways on Montana Sunset Spots

  1. Flathead Lake in Bigfork offers a magical sunset experience with its vast expanse, crystal-clear waters, and mountainous backdrop.
  2. Cherry River in Bozeman blends the tranquility of a river with the fiery hues of a Montana sunset, offering diverse vantage points and a sanctuary for wildlife.
  3. The iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park provides a unique and varied sunset experience, with the Wild Goose Island Overlook as a must-visit spot.
  4. The Mount Sentinel “M” Trail in Missoula not only offers panoramic sunset views but also a glimpse of the cityscape and a convivial atmosphere.
  5. Plentywood in Eastern Montana is a hidden gem renowned for its world-class sunsets, offering unobstructed horizons and vibrant sky colors.
  6. Lower Two Medicine Lake and Sinopah Mountain in Glacier National Park create a symphony of colors with their reflective waters and warm-toned mountain facade.
  7. Hidden Lake and Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park are both mirror-like lakes that intensify the beauty of Montana’s sunsets, with the Hidden Lake Overlook and Many Glacier Hotel as top viewpoints.
  8. Duck Creek provides a serene and unspoiled setting for witnessing Montana’s sky paintings.

13 Best Sunset Spots in Montana

The setting sun casts a warm glow over a Montana wheat field

As the sun descends, Montana’s landscapes transform into a canvas of vibrant hues and breathtaking vistas. These 13 spots, handpicked for their gorgeous sunset views, are where you’ll want to be when the sky puts on its evening show. 

1. Flathead Lake

The Montana sunset casts a glow over the lake, with trees silhouetted in the background.

Flathead Lake in Bigfork, Montana is a mesmerizing spot to catch the sunset. The vast expanse of the lake, with its clear, sparkling waters, creates the perfect setting for a stunning sunset view.

Wayfarers State Park, situated along the lake’s perimeter, is a popular spot for sunset watching, offering clean vantage points with amenities like picnic tables, restrooms, and easy lakefront access.

This designated state park area is known for being one of the best spots to capture the sunset, making it a magnet for tourists interested in photographing this natural spectacle.

On the lake’s south side, the beach and dock area also provide sweeping views, making it an ideal location to witness the beauty of the sunset.

The combination of the lake’s size, the surrounding landscape, and the amenities at Wayfarers State Park make it an enchanting spot to experience the evening’s transition into the night.

For an unforgettable sunset viewing experience, Flathead Lake and its surrounding areas offer a picturesque and breathtaking backdrop.

2. Cherry River

The golden hour's effect on the Montana landscape

If you’re looking to blend the tranquility of a river with the fiery hues of a Montana sunset, Cherry River in Bozeman is your ticket to enchantment.

I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing the alpenglow over the Bridger Mountains from this spot in Cherry River, and let me tell you, it’s pure beauty.

Why Cherry River? Here’s the lowdown:

  • The Dynamic Canvas – Nature here isn’t just a static backdrop; it’s an ever-changing masterpiece. The river’s edge reflects the seasons, offering a dynamic canvas for your sunset escapades.
  • The Trail – Ranging from a leisurely 1-mile (1.61 km) stroll to a slightly more ambitious 1.3-mile (2.1 km) trek, the Cherry River trail delivers an array of vantage points. From serene ponds to the fishing access, each turn frames a sunset vista more spectacular than the last.
  • A Sanctuary for Flora and Fauna – If you’re a wildlife enthusiast or a budding photographer, Cherry River is your playground. You’ll find vibrant flora and thriving critters that add an extra layer of beauty to your sunset experience.

The scenic beauty, diverse vantage points, and that captivating alpenglow on the Bridger Mountains — it’s a recipe for a truly grand Montana sunset experience.

3. Going-to-the-Sun Road

A sunset casts beautiful spots of golden light on a road winding through the mountains.

As the day winds down, one of the most captivating places to witness a Glacier National Park sunset is along the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This 50-mile (80.4 km) engineering marvel boasts not only jaw-dropping vistas but also a plethora of vantage points that make for some truly mesmerizing sunset moments. The road’s elevation, combined with the surrounding landscape, creates a unique sunset experience.

My favorite spot for capturing the last rays of the day is near Logan Pass. As you ascend, the view into the valley becomes increasingly dramatic, with the sun casting long shadows and the sky transforming into a canvas of ever-changing colors.

But the real showstopper is the Wild Goose Island Overlook. Here, you’ll find a view that’s straight out of a postcard — Saint Mary Lake with its tiny Wild Goose Island, all framed by the shadows of the Continental Divide and distant peaks.

What makes the Going-to-the-Sun Road sunset experience so enchanting is the interplay between the road’s elevation, the sweeping vistas, and the kaleidoscope of colors that seem to stretch to infinity. I’ve seen everything from fiery reds to soft pinks and purples dancing across the clouds.

Going-to-the-Sun Road is a must-visit for anyone seeking to immerse themselves in the glory of a Glacier National Park sunset.

With its diverse vantage points, stunning natural features, and the ever-changing colors that grace its skies, this road promises an enchanting evening you’ll carry with you long after the sun has set.

4. Mount Sentinel “M” Trail

Mount Sentinel in Missoula, Montana.

If you’re in Missoula and the idea of a sunset hike piques your interest, the Mount Sentinel “M” Trail is an absolute no-brainer. Not only does this trail offer a great workout, but it also gifts you with some of the most breathtaking sunset views in the area.

Here’s why the Mount Sentinel “M” Trail is a must-visit for sunset enthusiasts:

  • Elevation and Views – The trail’s steep ascent and easy descent provide a vantage point that rises above the city, offering a bird’s-eye view of Missoula and its surroundings.
  • Panoramic Delights – From the “M” itself, you’re treated to a 360-degree panorama that encompasses Missoula, the University of Montana, and the majestic mountains that hug the horizon.
  • Sunset Picnics – It’s not just about the views; the “M” Trail is a popular spot for sunset picnics. Imagine savoring a meal while the sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors.
  • Cityscape and Mountain Harmony – One of the unique charms of this trail is the interplay between the cityscape and the mountains. As the sun sets, it casts a warm glow on the buildings and the peaks, creating a scene that’s both urban and wild.
  • Popular and Friendly – The “M” Trail is a community favorite, attracting hikers of all ages. The shared experience of watching the sunset here often adds to the convivial atmosphere.

On my last visit to the “M” Trail at sunset, I found myself utterly captivated by the way the fading light played with the contours of the land. It’s a spot that seamlessly marries Montana’s natural beauty with a glimpse of Missoula’s urban charm.

5. Plentywood

The setting sun bathes the Montana landscape in a golden hue

As I watched the sun dip below the horizon near Plentywood, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the vibrant hues stretching across the vast open skies.

The unobstructed horizons created a stunning canvas for the evening sun’s colorful display, leaving both visitors and locals marveling at the breathtaking beauty of the sunset.

The warm, vibrant hues and expansive views make Plentywood an ideal location for witnessing and capturing Montana’s natural sunset spectacle. The surrounding landscape of rolling wheat fields and picturesque alpine lakes only enhances the area’s reputation for stunning sunsets.

Plentywood truly stands out as an enchanting spot for experiencing the magic of a sunset, attributed to unique cloud formations, vibrant colors, and unspoiled natural beauty.

If you ever find yourself in Montana, make sure to carve out some time to witness the mesmerizing arrays of colors at sunset near Plentywood.

6. Lower Two Medicine Lake and Sinopah Mountain

A majestic peak and a serene lake bathe in the afterglow of the setting sun.

At the edge of Lower Two Medicine Lake and I gaze upon the majestic Sinopah Mountain, I am enveloped in the enchanting beauty of Glacier National Park’s sunset.

The crystal-clear waters of the lake create a mirror-like surface, reflecting the vibrant hues of the evening sky in a mesmerizing display. The warm glow of the sun casts a beautiful array of colors upon Sinopah Mountain, adding to the magic of the scene.

This picturesque setting offers a perfect opportunity to capture the natural beauty of Montana’s sunset, with the serene lake, imposing mountain, and colorful sky coming together to create an idyllic and captivating spot.

Lower Two Medicine Lake and Sinopah Mountain provide a peaceful ambiance, stunning reflections, and an overall sense of tranquility, making it an exceptional location for experiencing the enchanting sunset spectacle of Glacier National Park.

7. Hidden Lake

A sunset in Hidden Lake.

When it comes to a Glacier National Park sunset, Hidden Lake is like the grand finale of a fireworks show. The alpine lake, nestled amidst towering peaks like Bearhat Mountain and Reynolds Mountain, sets the stage for a mesmerizing twilight experience.

Here’s why you shouldn’t miss this enchanting spot:

  • The Hidden Lake Overlook Trail – A 1.5-mile (2.4 km) uphill hike (3 miles or 4.8 km round trip) that most people can tackle, thanks to a boardwalk for a portion of the way.
  • Perfect for All Ages – The trail behind the Logan Pass Visitor Center leading to Hidden Lake offers a relatively easy trek, suitable for the young and old alike.
  • Wide-Open Vistas – As you ascend to the overlook, be prepared for completely open and exposed views of the alpine meadows and surrounding mountains.
  • A Popular Destination – The Hidden Lake Overlook area is one of Glacier National Park’s most sought-after spots, so expect some company during the sunset hour.

If you’re an angler, you’re in for a treat. The Hidden Lake Nature Trail is home to trout in the lake, making it a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts. If you’re a fan of casting a line during the sunset, this could be your slice of heaven.

In a nutshell, the Hidden Lake Overlook Trail offers not just a great workout but also a front-row seat to one of Glacier National Park’s most iconic sunsets. The combination of the alpine lake, the majestic mountains, and the ever-changing sky make this a sunset experience you won’t soon forget.

8. Swiftcurrent Lake

A sunset in Montana casts a reflection of a mountain range on a serene lake.

Oh, let me tell you about Swiftcurrent Lake in Glacier National Park. It’s just mesmerizing for a sunset view.

This pristine lake, nestled amidst the rugged splendor of the park, offers a captivating atmosphere that transforms as the day draws to a close. The tranquil, crystal-clear waters of Swiftcurrent Lake serve as the perfect reflective surface for the vibrant hues of the setting sun.

As daylight fades, the lake mirrors the ever-changing colors of the sky, creating a mesmerizing and enchanting scene. The combination of the serene waters and the vivid sunset paints a picture of natural splendor that is truly awe-inspiring.

Surrounded by towering mountain peaks and alpine meadows, Swiftcurrent Lake provides a sense of tranquility and grandeur that enhances the sunset experience.

The dramatic backdrop of the mountains, coupled with the peaceful ambiance of the meadows, adds an extra layer of beauty to the already stunning scene.

For those seeking an optimal vantage point to fully appreciate the sunset over Swiftcurrent Lake, many visitors highly recommend the area around Many Glacier Hotel.

Positioned strategically, this location offers an unobstructed view of the lake and its surroundings, allowing spectators to soak in the full glory of the setting sun.

As the sun descends, it bathes the sky in hues of pink, orange, and sometimes purple, creating a breathtaking spectacle. The reflection of these colors on the calm surface of the lake adds to the enchantment, making Swiftcurrent

9. Duck Creek

The sun bathes the skies in an orange glow as it sets behind the mountains, with the sky's reflection in the river.

When it comes to Montana’s legendary sunsets, Duck Creek is like the Mona Lisa of evening views. This spot offers an open, unobstructed horizon that transforms into a canvas of vibrant colors as the sun bids its daily farewell.

Why Duck Creek is a Must-Visit for Sunset Enthusiasts:

  • Vast Skies – The sheer expanse of the Duck Creek skies allows for a breathtaking panorama you won’t find in just any old sunset spot.
  • Serene Setting – The peaceful ambiance of this location adds an extra layer of tranquility to your sunset experience.
  • Photography Paradise – If you’re a shutterbug, you’ll have a field day capturing Montana’s natural sunset spectacle.

During my last visit, I was captivated by the unique cloud formations that seemed to dance with the setting sun, painting the sky in hues I didn’t even know existed. The colors were so intense, it felt like I was witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime event.

So, why do Duck Creek sunsets stand out? Well, the combination of those unique cloud formations, the vibrant colors they create, and the unspoiled natural beauty of the area all play a role.

The warm, vibrant hues and the expansive views will etch themselves into your memory like no other sunset you’ve seen before. And hey, don’t forget to bring your camera; you’ll want to capture this masterpiece for posterity.

10. Lake McDonald

The enchanting Montana mountain range is reflected in a serene body of water during sunset.

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park is a prime destination for experiencing the beauty of a Montana sunset, offering diverse vantage points and picturesque scenes that capture the essence of the region.

The southwest beach and dock area stand out as the most popular spot for witnessing and photographing the sunset on Lake McDonald.

The dock itself becomes an interesting subject against the backdrop of the descending sun, providing a unique focal point for photographers and spectators alike.

As the sun dips below the horizon, the vibrant pink hues of the sky reflect off the majestic mountain peaks surrounding Lake McDonald.

This natural canvas creates stunning views that are further intensified by the reflections on the water. The play of light and color adds to the ambiance, enhancing the captivation of the scene and creating a truly magical experience.

Several other noteworthy spots for viewing the sunset on Lake McDonald include the Lake McDonald Lodge area, the Apgar area, and various boat docks along the coast. 

Approximately an hour before sunset, the public pier provides a fantastic vantage point to enjoy the changing colors of the mountains across the lake. This pre-sunset glow paints the landscape with warm tones, creating a serene and awe-inspiring atmosphere.

For those seeking sunrise and sunset photography, the beach at Apgar facing up Lake McDonald is a fantastic choice.

The panoramic views from this location offer a unique opportunity to capture the first or last light of the day, creating breathtaking images that showcase the unparalleled beauty of Glacier National Park at sunset.

11. Big Sky Resort

The sun sets behind a snow-capped mountain in Montana

Big Sky Resort stands as an exceptional location for capturing the beauty of a sunset, offering diverse vantage points that showcase the splendor of scenic Montana mountains, including the Rockies.

Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, Big Sky Resort provides visitors with stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

The resort’s high elevation contributes to its appeal for sunset viewing, allowing guests to enjoy unobstructed panoramas that often feature a mesmerizing array of colors in the sky as the sun bids farewell to the day.

Several specific locations within Big Sky Resort are particularly noteworthy for their sunset views:

  1. Mountain Home – While it may be a bit challenging to access, this area within the resort offers a great vantage point for witnessing the sunset. The effort to reach this spot is rewarded with a captivating view of the changing sky.
  2. Moonlight Basin – As a part of Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin is not only a premier ski destination but also an ideal location for sunrise or sunset photography. The basin provides fabulous views of the Spanish Peaks, creating a spectacular backdrop for capturing the magic of Montana’s sunsets.
  3. Huntley Lodge – This lodge within Big Sky Resort offers a picturesque setting for enjoying the sunset. The comfortable surroundings provide a relaxed atmosphere for guests to unwind while taking in the stunning views of the sun setting over the Rocky Mountains.

Whether you choose the challenge of Mountain Home, the breathtaking vistas at Moonlight Basin, or the comfort of Huntley Lodge, Big Sky Resort offers a variety of options for experiencing the enchanting beauty of a Montana sunset in the heart of the Rockies.

12. Granite Park Chalet

The sun sets behind the mountain, bathing the Montana landscape in a soft, dim glow.

When I think of a fantastic spot for a sunset view, Granite Park Chalet in Glacier National Park immediately comes to mind. Perched at an elevation of 6,700 feet (2,042 meters), this rustic retreat offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

Accessible via the Highline Trail, an eight-mile trek from Logan Pass, visitors are treated to a postcard view of the chalet for the final two miles, passing through the famous Garden Wall.

Once there, you can enjoy various vantage points for sunset watching, including the porch with a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains. The chalet’s location allows for unobstructed sunset views, often displaying a mesmerizing array of colors in the sky.

Its rustic charm and lack of modern amenities, such as running water and electricity, contribute to an overall sense of tranquility and natural splendor.

The unique experience of staying at Granite Park Chalet, combined with its scenic beauty, makes it a must-visit destination for any nature lover.

13. Sacajawea Park

A river in Montana as the sun is about to set

I recently visited Sacajawea Park and was completely blown away by its picturesque setting and stunning views. The park features a beautiful playground, picnic areas, and a lion’s head drinking fountain.

But what caught my attention was the park’s popularity for sunset watching. As the sun sets, it casts a warm glow over the landscape, creating a mesmerizing scene.

The park offers an ideal setting for sunset viewing, with a small pond that provides a serene and reflective surface for the setting sun, adding to the overall beauty of the scene. The sunset colors often reflect off thin, wispy clouds, further enhancing the picturesque view.

What’s more, the park’s proximity to the Yellowstone River provides stunning river views at sunset, where the sky, clouds, and water collaborate to create a captivating display.

The colors of the sky, clouds, and water work together to create a truly breathtaking and unforgettable experience. If you’re looking for a serene and captivating sunset spot, Sacajawea Park is the perfect place to unwind and take in nature’s beauty.

Montana Sunrise and Sunset Final Thoughts

The sun sets behind the mountains in Montana, casting soft, orange rays of light onto a cabin.

Montana, renowned for its panoramic vistas, holds a distinguished reputation for showcasing some of the world’s most stunning sunsets. Across the state’s diverse landscapes, a collection of top sunset spots beckons, each promising a unique and captivating view of the sun bidding farewell.

Flathead Lake, with its expansive waters, reflects the vibrant hues of the setting sun, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. In Bozeman, the Cherry River offers an intimate setting, where the tranquil waters mirror the changing sky, adding a touch of serenity to the evening.

Venturing into Glacier National Park reveals a tapestry of iconic spots, from the winding allure of Going-to-the-Sun Road to the tranquil Lower Two Medicine Lake and the majestic presence of Sinopah Mountain.

Swiftcurrent Lake, Hidden Lake, and the elevated Granite Park Chalet intensify the vivid colors, creating a captivating display of nature’s artistry. In Livingston, Sacajawea Park offers a different perspective as the Yellowstone River meanders through the landscape, fulfilling the promise of an immersive experience in Montana’s natural beauty.

Both locals and visitors encounter the breathtaking allure of the state’s sunset views as Montana’s sunsets, painted across diverse canvases, invite all to be enraptured by the magic of the Big Sky Country.

Montana Sunset and Sunrise FAQs

1. How Many Hours of Sunlight Does Montana Get?

Montana receives approximately 300 days of sunshine annually, translating to an average of 16 to 18 hours of sunlight during the summer months, particularly in June and July.

However, this can vary across regions due to the state’s diverse geography and altitude differences.

2. What Is the Shortest Day in Montana?

In Montana, the shortest day typically occurs around December 21st during the winter solstice.

On this day, the state experiences its shortest period of daylight, with daylight hours ranging from about 8 to 9 hours, varying across different regions within Montana.

3. What Part of Montana Gets the Most Sun?

Eastern Montana generally receives the most sunlight in the state.

Cities like Miles City, Glendive, and Sidney in this region tend to get slightly more sunshine compared to other parts of Montana, experiencing relatively drier and sunnier conditions due to the state’s continental climate and the rain shadow effect from the Rockies.

Keep exploring! Dive into our treasure trove of other fascinating reads about the state:

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Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding PocketMontana.com was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

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