The Top 5 Sunrise and Sunset Photo Spots in Summit County

July 20, 2014

Summit County sunset

Sunset at Frisco Bay

Taking snapshots of friends, family and your dogs is fine in the middle of the day, but if you want to take home a few memorable photos, head out to one of the many scenic overlooks in Summit County to see some stunning sunsets. And if you're an early bird, try the same thing around dawn — you'll be amazed at the incredible colors nearly every day, and especially if there are some thin clouds in the air.

You don't need to go on an extreme mountain hike, either. Some of the very best spots are roadside parking lots at various view points around Summit County, and given our mountain topography, there are plenty! It's always fun to discover your own secret spot, but we'll reveal a handful of our own to help give you inspiration. And remember, you don't always have to be facing the sun. Sometimes the best colors are projected across the sky in the opposite direction, as the low rays bend through the atmosphere and illuminate the bottom of the clouds.

Sunrise Summit County Colorado

  • Starting in Frisco, we're partial to the shores of Frisco Bay, sweeping from the Frisco Peninsula past the town's marina and along some charming inlets, coves and wetlands all the way to the Dillon Dam Road to the hidden coves of Heaton Bay. One of the easiest spots for a great sunrise shot is right behind the Frisco Taco Bell, where there's an overview of town-owned and protected wetlands, which mirror the colors of the sky, and where foxes and beavers often play.
  • To see nearly all of Summit County from a single vantage point, head up to the Ptarmigan Trailhead, outside of Silverthorne. The trail is steep at the start, but you don't have to go far to get jaw-dropping vistas covering all of Summit County's major valleys; the Snake, Blue, and Tenmile drainages. Tou'll be able to see all of Dillon Reservoir and the big earthen dam, and the sky colors are great for sunrise or sunset.
  • The Tenderfoot Trail, near Dillon, also offers great views of the sunset, especially in mid-summer, when the orb sets behind the craggy Gore Range, often sending shafts of golden sunlight into the Rocky Mountain sky.. During early summer, the hillside is often covered with thick wildflower blooms, including lupines, and the gnarled old Douglas Fir trees make for a great foreground object.
  • There's a reason Sapphire Point is so popular, but it still shouldn't be missed on a Summit County photo safari. From here, you can see far up the Blue River valley beyond Breckenridge, and down the Lower Blue, as well. Dawn and dusk paint the face of the rugged Tenmile Range with alpenglow, and if you like fuzzy critters, snap a few shots of the begging chipmunks!

If you're using an iPhone or some other advanced smartphone, try the HDR setting on your camera. It will help the digital sensor pick up some of the foreground details against the bright background of the sky. Be sure to tip the camera up and down ever-so-slightly until the light is balanced between foreground and sky. If the light is getting dim, prop your arm and the camera against a rock or tree to hold it steady.

Have fun out there, and follow us on Twitter for updates and daily pictures.


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