The Best Sunset Views in Santa Fe

Head to high ground for these unparalleled views.

USA, New Mexico, Santa Fe, Colorful clouds at sunset over Sangre de Cristo Mountains

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There’s something almost supernatural about a Santa Fe sunset. Benefiting from the picturesque southwestern landscape and clear, bright skies, the city's views of the setting sun are always red hot. 

Between fiery orange blazes and cherry brushstrokes, New Mexico's world-famous sunsets are fit for a canvas. In fact, it’s been elegantly captured by artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and can be bright and searing, soft and pastel, or Biblically apocalyptic, depending on the weather and the time of day. 

Low air pollution, a 7,000-foot altitude, and an average of 325 days of sun per year make the quality of light here magical. And the magic only multiplies come sunset.  

There's so much open space that it's possible to watch the sky's shifting moods from almost anywhere, but for the biggest, unhindered views — as well as the best places to Instagram the brilliant smudges of red, orange, purple, and pink left by the sinking sun — you're going to have to work for it. 

Whether you’re hiking Atalaya Mountain or climbing the stairs to a local rooftop pizza joint, higher is always better when it comes to the supreme mountain and sunset vistas that New Mexico is famous for. However, once you've reached your preferred summit, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the life-changing views of Santa Fe’s setting sun.

Read on for when and where to go to experience this once-in-a-lifetime wonder.  

When to See the Sunset in Santa Fe

When you’re dealing with nature, timing is everything. So, when should you head outdoors in Santa Fe for the best sunset views? During summertime, you’ll just want to be seated on a rooftop or at the summit of your hike by 8 or 8:30 p.m. Mountain Time. However, in winter, the sun can set as early as 5 p.m. in Santa Fe, meaning you need to prepare accordingly to be in place when the sky starts to change color by late afternoon.   

Where to See the Sunset in Santa Fe

Cross of the Martyrs

The 25-foot-tall reinforced concrete cross sits on top of a hill off Paseo de la Loma in Fort Marcy Park and commemorates the 21 Franciscan priests and many more Spanish colonists who died during the Pueblo revolt of 1680. Easily accessible via a gently sloping staircase that starts on the eastern corner of Paseo de Peralta, the summit provides both a close-up of the adobe walls and giant cottonwood trees of downtown Santa Fe and giant vistas of the Jemez Mountains in the west beyond.

Hyde Memorial State Park Overlook

Start out a half-hour before sunset to give yourself time to drive the 18 miles up windy New Mexico 475 from Santa Fe through the towering Ponderosa Pines of Hyde Memorial State Park. The whole way up you'll have ever-shifting views of the Sangre de Cristos ahead and the Jemez Mountains. At the Overlook, a parking area with a fence between the cars and a steep abyss, pull off to enjoy the massive western panorama.

Rooftop Pizzeria & Draft Station

On the top floor of the Santa Fe Arcade, Rooftop Pizzeria has a height advantage over other outdoor restaurants. Ask to be seated along the west-facing bar on the patio and you'll have unhindered sunset views of the Jemez Mountains. Order the Tre Carne pizza (bacon, shrimp, lobster, roasted garlic spread, red onion, and truffle oil) on a blue corn artisan crust and a bottle of red.

Picacho Peak

Not many cities have an 8,300-foot peak out the back door. Don't let the two-hour-long climb to the summit of Picacho deter you. This four-mile hike on a well-maintained trail is a fast track to joy — at the top, take your pick of two views: One overlooking the city, the desert, and Albuquerque's Sandia Peak in the far-off distance, the other overlooking the Jemez to the west and the forest-green, rolling carpet of the Sangre de Cristos to the northeast.

Atalaya Trail

More popular than Picacho, Atalaya starts behind St. John's College and is a straight 3.0-mile shot up to the 9,000-foot summit. It's a lot of vertical — 1,800 feet — in a short spurt, but the payoff is nice. On the top, you'll find a few slabs of west-facing rock — the ultimate place to watch the sun go down over Santa Fe.

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