Where to catch the sunset in Asheville

Sunset at Craggy Pinnacle. Photo: @yohojeremy
Sunset at Craggy Pinnacle. Photo: @yohojeremy

The Blue Ridge Mountains + a fabulous sunset? There’s basically no better way to spend an evening.

And whether you love being out in nature or prefer to treat yo’self at one of the city’s rooftop bars, our 360° views mean that you never have to go far for a seat at the perfect sunset. We’re here to help, so we created a list of all of the best spots to watch the sun go down. So go ahead + use this guide to plan your next outing. Because watching the sunset is good for your health.

Our horizon makes every sunset a stunner, but there are ways to tell if this daily event is going to be especially stunning. Sit back while we take you on a little science adventure.

Why are sunsets so colorful?

If you’ve ever seen light pass through a prism, you know that sunlight is made up of all the colors of the rainbow. These colors are also wavelengths (so the color you see varies because of how short of long a wave is). When the sun is closer to the earth, more blue light – the shortest wavelength – is visible, which makes the sky look blue.

But in the morning + evening, the sun is farther away and the blue light can’t reach us as easily, so it scatters. Instead, longer waves of light hit + other colors (like all those pinks + oranges) show up. If you really want to show off to your friends, this effect is called Rayleigh scattering.    

You can count on the Rayleigh scattering every day, but we have some protips to help you tell when sunsets will be truly spectacular. Next time you’re sunset-scouting, look out for these things:   

  • There are clouds. Higher + mid-level clouds will be thin enough for light (and color) to get through. Lower, puffy clouds won’t let much light through.
  • But there aren’t too many clouds. Somewhere between 30–70% cloud cover is good.
  • It’s not super humid. Less humidity=clearer, crisper light.
  • It’s not very windy. So those pretty clouds will stick around.  
  • Currently, the sun is setting at around 8:10. See all the sunset times for Asheville here.

From perching up on a parking deck, to grabbing an after-work drink – We rounded up 15+ A+ locations for the perfect sunset spot.

Destinations

Biltmore |📍1 Lodge St. | Price of admission ($70) to the current Chihuly at Night exhibition includes tons of sunset-scoping points + access to the glass sculpture garden. | Views: The west-facing lawn + gardens are your best bets, though the Estate is full of prime spots.

Grove Park Inn |📍290 Macon Ave. | Parking starts at $10 for 3–6 hours. | Views: The Inn’s Grand Terrace faces west.

Asheville parking garages | 📍Various locations downtown | First hour free, then $2.50 an hour | The atmosphere may not be as thrilling as other spots in the area, but the top levels of the Civic Center, Rankin Ave. + Wall St. decks give you a sweet view of the sunset over downtown. Views: Deck-dependent

Rooftops + Restaurants

🌇 Capella on 9 |📍10 Broadway (atop the AC Hotel) | ✔Partially covered rooftop deck, classy cocktails, heaters | 🥂Menu | Views: West towards downtown (Broadway to College) at the front, north + east towards N. Asheville, Town Mountain + Beaucatcher Mountain at the back

🌇 Hemingway’s Cuba |📍15 Page Ave. (atop the Cambria Hotel) | ✔Heaters, classic cocktails | 🥂Menu | Views: South towards South Slope, west

🌇 The Montford |📍199 Haywood St. (atop the Hyatt Place Hotel) | ✔Free valet parking, upscale bar snacks |🥂Menu | Views: Northwest towards Patton Ave. + Grove Park Inn

🌇 Pillar Bar |📍309 College St. (atop the Hilton Garden Inn) | ✔Heaters, food available all day (breakfast, lunch + dinner) | 🥂Menu | Views: North, east

🌇 SkyBAR |📍18 Battery Park Ave.(atop the Flat Iron Building) | ✔Seats + standing room, heaters | 🥂Menu | Views: South towards South Slope + west along Patton Ave.

🌇 Social Lounge |📍29 Broadway St. | ✔Food + creative cocktails | 🥂Menu | Views: North + west

🌇 Top of the Monk |📍92 Patton Ave. | ✔Cocktails + bar snacks | 🥂Menu | Views: South + west

Hikes + Drives

Bring a flashlight or headlamp (with backup batteries), water, snacks + layers for your sunset hike.

🌄 Blue Ridge Parkway |📍Maps available here | Pack a picnic, gas up + pick an overlook | Views: The Parkway runs approximately north-south, so overlooks face easterly + westerly.  

🌄 Mt. Pisgah |📍Milepost 408 on the Blue Ridge Pkwy | 3.2 miles round trip | Moderate–strenuous | A hike to the summit is one of the most iconic experiences in town.

🌄 Craggy Pinnacle | 📍Milepost 364 on the Blue Ridge Pkwy | 1.4 miles round trip | Moderate | Nearby Craggy Gardens also has great sunset views for those wanting less of a walk

🌄 Black Balsam | 📍Milepost 420.2 on the Blue Ridge Pkwy | 1 mile round trip to bald from parking | Moderate (initial incline) | Other nearby hikes include Sam Knob + Tennent Mountain

🌄 Mt. Mitchell | 📍Take N.C. Hwy 128 near Milepost 350 | ½ mile round trip to the summit from the parking lot | Moderate | Walk right to the top in under 5 minutes, or take an afternoon and do a longer trail nearby, like the 2-mile round trip Deep Gap Trail or the strenuous 5.5+ mile Mount Mitchell Trail.

🌄 Max Patch | 📍Madison County, N.C. | 1.4 or 2.4 miles | Moderate | Ascend from the parking area to this bald on the Appalachian Trail.

Sunset is my favorite time of day (maybe because I’m never up early enough to catch a sunrise? 🤷). I think it has something to do with growing up + living in this area, where the light + colors become even more dramatic against our Blue Ridge backdrop.

There’s something special about setting aside a moment of your busy day to sit + watch the sunset. Whether it’s a chance to be meditative and quiet or to celebrate the successful close of another day with your besties, it’s always worth your time.

Where’s your favorite spot to catch a sunset? Let us know by replying here, or tell us over on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

– Ali