Best Sierra Sunsets: Fire In The Sky

Would you believe I spent a good year of my life seeking out the best Sierra sunsets? While I’m sure there are countless other locations to be discovered in the future, here are my favorite sunset photos thus far…

Colorful Pink and orange Clouds in the Foothills- Best Sierra Sunsets
Stunning Pink Cloud Sunset in the Foothills

Groveland Foothills – Sunset Over Don Pedro Lake

How incredible is that? Climbing up over the lookout at Big Oak Flat near Groveland, this has got to be my #1 choice for sunset photography near Yosemite.

I learned so many things over the course of a year. For example, by late June, clouds are few and far between up here, and that means boring sunsets. The clouds finally start to appear with the incoming winter storms (December, but more so in January & February.)

However, I generally find that there are too many clouds at this time. They (especially low clouds) tend to swallow up all the light from the setting sun.

Giant orange setting sun over Don Pedro Lake
Giant orange setting sun

The sweet spot finally arrives around April, in the spring. This is when just the right amount of clouds appear in the sky. Anyhow, as you can see Don Pedro Lake is an excellent location for beautiful Sierra sunsets. The shot above was zoomed in from quite far away.

Sunset bridge long exposure - Best Sierra Sunsets
Sunset bridge long exposure

The Jacksonville Rd bridge is a great place to shoot long exposures, assuming you wait until the passing cars stop vibrating your camera!

Orange Starburst Landscape over Priest Grade Road - Best Sierra Sunsets
Orange Starburst Landscape

This photo above was shot from a slightly different vantage point – above Priest Grade Road, to the east. Something I never really thought about was how much the sun travels across the sky throughout the year. I suppose it was naive of me to think that it simply (& always) “sets in the west”.

Illuminated Pink Sky over hills
Illuminated Sky

Having come up here many times when the conditions were right, I noticed the setting sun dip below the horizon in quite a few different locations. It seems to me that from end to end (solstice to solstice), it travels as far as about 90 degrees. Wayyyy more than I ever would have thought.

Best Sierra Sunsets – Highway 120 View

Highway 120 foothills, sunset portrait - Best Sierra Sunsets
Windy Road To Yosemite

Anyway, enough geeking out on solar variance. I like this sunset portrait of of Highway 120 snaking up through the foothills. This is the longer route – on the left side you can see much steeper (but shorter) Priest Grade Road. Don’t attempt it if your vehicle tends to overheat and/or it’s summertime.

Also if you’re going downhill and need brake fluid or new brakes!

Sunset Through The Forest Trees

Forest sunset silhouettes in Groveland Foothills
Forest silhouettes

It’s nice to catch the sunset clouds behind tree silhouettes in the forest. Here I captured some beautiful pink and orange hues in the skies above the foothills.

Sunset pine tree silhouette
Moonlight through the pines? No…sunlight

Best Sierra Sunsets – Tuolumne Meadows

Setting sun over Tuolumne River - Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne River Sunset

This famous attraction along Tioga Road is probably one of the best (readily accessible) sunset locations in the park proper. Here I photographed the setting sun over the pools and light-flowing Tuolumne River in Late Summer.

Tuolumne Meadows Pool Reflection - Sunset Sunburst
Tuolumne Meadows Pool Reflection

I particularly liked capturing this golden sunburst, just as the sun dipped below the horizon for the evening.

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About My Photos

The images on this website are available for licensing and/or sale as framed prints. If you’d like to purchase them for a blog, news article, or gift, feel free to contact me with the specifics. This way you’re supporting photographers such as me directly (as opposed to buying from a faceless stock photo corporation).

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– Nathan Allen

About Me

Photographer Nathan Allen

I’m Nathan Allen, photographer / creator of (Yosemite Photos) and international travel site I Dreamed Of This. In truth, I lived in San Francisco, New York, & Singapore…but nothing compares to life in the mountains. I share my experiences HERE.