Photo Courtesy Dave Perkins

Late fall and winter: The best times for sunset seekers

By Robert Williamson, Contributor | Posted - Nov. 13, 2020 at 12:16 p.m.

7 photos

SUNSET — Utah has great sunsets.

Davis County even has a city called Sunset. According to Sunset City history, around 1916 a group of women living in the area were visiting together and admiring the beautiful colors of the sun setting in the west over the Great Salt Lake, so they named the area Sunset.

Most of us living along the Wasatch Front have witnessed a colorful sunset, usually in the summer when we spend more time outdoors. However, late fall and winter are the best times to see vibrantly colored sunsets. This is because — contrary to popular belief that pollution or forest fire smoke helps create better sunsets — it is actually clean air that produces more vivid color.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Stephen Corfidi wrote in his scientific paper, "The Colors of Sunset and Twilight": "Rather than pollution, it's clean air that is the main ingredient common to brightly colored sunrises and sunsets, and in fall and winter, weather patterns usually result in a clearer lower atmosphere." Corfidi's paper also provides information on how different cloud varieties can hinder or enhance a sunset.

Sunset Seeker

Photographer Dave Perkins of Davis County is a sunset seeker. Dave spends many an evening out near the Great Salt Lake enjoying and capturing the setting sun. His colorful sunset landscape photographs are simply amazing.

Each evening is a new adventure, and a different work of art is created even though he might be viewing from the same spot. The changing atmospheric conditions create a clean sky canvas each night, and no two sunsets are ever alike. Dave posts most of his sunset shots on Facebook, but some of his sunset landscapes can be viewed on his photo site if you look around a bit.

Plan to see a good sunset

Viewing a good sunset is mostly up to chance. The more time you spend outdoors, the better your chances. Planning to see a good sunset can increase your chances. The key: know your timing.

Most television news channels or internet sites with weather reports will provide the time of day to expect sunset. This report will give you the time you would need to be in place if hiking or driving to a viewing site. Weather reports can also help predict if the cloud formations will be conducive to creating the textures, reflections and vivid color. Some websites, like SunsetWX, even combine these to provide sunset forecasts.

The best viewing locations for taking in a sunset around the Wasatch Front is on the foothill trails, canyon trails with views to the west/eastern shores of the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island. These spots provide the best view because they take out or minimize the foreground of homes and buildings.

Good sunsets with Great Salt Lake reflections and the sun setting behind the west desert mountains are a nice touch. In fact, having some interesting features in front of the setting sun will often make the sunset more interesting. Try hiking up a canyon and viewing or taking pictures of the sunset through the "V-shaped" opening of the canyon with trees and rock formations to the side of in the foreground.

Capturing a sunset with a smartphone

It's possible to use smartphone technology to capture a nice sunset. Just using the phone's camera will work. Some new phones have ways to enhance photo capabilities with panorama, pro, RAW and night modes, as well as some photograph-editing features. Phone tripods are also available for steady exposures.

Get the timing and location right, then grab a jacket and a headlamp or flashlight, and get outside to view our beautiful sunsets.


Robert Williamson

    KSL Weather Forecast