I love sunsets. I live in Seattle and Seattle has some of the most spectacular sunsets in i've ever seen.
Because we are so far north (47 and half degrees north latitude) the time of the sunset changes significantly throughout the year, ranging from 16:18 in late December to 21:11 in late June, offset, of course, by the change into, and out of Daylight Saving Time. I made this chart from the actual daily sunrise and sunset times from 2008. Sunrise time is yellow and sunset time is blue. You can click on the chart for a larger image.
The hills in the city, the spectacular Olympic mountains on the horizon, the many water views and cloudy skis combine to create stunningly dramatic sunsets all year round.
In the middle of summer (August & September) and the middle of winter
(December & January) there are often days without a spectacular sunset, due to
too little, or to thick cloud cover, but the rest of the year you can depend
on an amazing sunset almost every day. Some of the most incredible
sunsets are on the grey days of winter when you can't see the mountains all
day until just about the moment of sunset when the mountains suddenly appear! I
never tire of Seattle sunsets at least i haven't in 19 years!
I think this chart is really pretty. It is also made from 2008 data. It is a zoom in on the previous chart, however on this chart the yellow represents daylight, and the border is the time of sunset. You can click on the chart for a larger image.
Due to the hilly nature of the city, there are many good spots with a view to the west. You can get a good view from the Pike Place Market downtown or from Volunteer Park on Capitol Hill (The free viewpoint in the water tower is as tall as the overpriced Space Needle, with the same view). The bluffs in Discovery Park in Magnolia or on the beach at Alki in West Seattle are great places to see the sunset. There are nice peakaboo views from Wallingford, Beacon Hill and Capitol Hill. One of my favorite places is Sunset Park in north Ballard at 33rd Ave NW & NW 77th street. It even has a sign with a map showing the mountains, the peak names and where the sun sets at different times of year!
But by far the best place to watch a sunset, is from a Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island. The ferries run all day, are great fun any time, and the scenery is stunning, but the sunset ferry is the best. You'll see the sunset over the Olympic Mountains as you cross the fjord, and on the return you'll get the best skyline view of downtown Seattle. The departure time you should choose changes throughout the year, due to the change in sunset time.
The Ferry to Bainbridge Island is a one hour round trip which (as of 2009) costs about $6. It has the best view of the sunset. (It's free to come back!) You can ride back immediately, or take a short walk on the island. (Not really that interesting.) You can also take a ferry to Bremerton, which is a 2+ hour round trip. This trip winds through the inlets a little more and feels a bit more like being in the islands.
To find the correct ferry to take, consult the chart i created. The ideal is to have the actual sunset a few minutes after the ferry departs. There are times of the year where you have to choose between two ferries, a late sunset ferry or one where the sunsets when you are almost back in Seattle.
|posted: 26 Apr 1992
|edited: 21 Jan 2010