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America's Top Sunrise and Sunset Spots

UPDATED October 4, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Fred Allen

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Throughout time, sunrises and sunsets have always been captivating. Watching the Sun disappear or reappear daily, with its rays spilling over the side of the earth has always been a majestic experience. While everyone has their top spots for watching the Sun work its magic, here are a few spots that will make even the hardiest non-early bird want to throw the blankets off and get out of bed.

Top 3 U.S. Sunrises:

Central Park, New York:

If you`re a New York resident you`ll need no introduction to the sun`s rising brilliance. Plastered against the Manhattan skyline as a drop-back, you`ll enjoy stunning reds, oranges and yellow hues gleaming off the buildings while taking a jog or walk through Central Park. In fact, the sun`s glistening rays will allow you to forget for a few fleeting moments that you are standing in the center of one of the world`s most vibrant, high-energy cities.

Salt Lake City, Utah:

Nestled between the Wasatch Range and the Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City has the benefit of its altitude to enjoy the rising sun. At an average elevation of 4,327 feet, it is the hub city of the Great Basin and offers breath-taking scenery. The city`s location offers a unique view even before the sun rises above the horizon, as its rays bounce off the nearby Wasatch Range peaks. In fact, Salt Lake City`s encirclement between majestic mountains and glacial carved canyons offer a spectacular back-drop for sunrises all year long.

Mount Rainier, Washington:

Just 54 miles southeast of Seattle, it is the most prominent mountain in the U.S., sitting at an elevation of 14,411 feet. Though it is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world, it has also established itself as a premiere destination for outdoor lovers. Hikers and campers alike will want to head here to catch the sun`s rays crawl over the horizon and take their breath away. Camping out for a weekend will offer up great views, while the sun`s rays sparkle off the many glaciers and ice-filled craters occupying its rugged surface. Don`t let the active volcano hold you back, it hasn`t erupted since 1854 and there isn`t any evidence it will explode any time soon!

Top 3 North American Sunsets:

Key West, Florida:

White Street Pier, known as one of North America`s most secret sunset spots, is just 2.5 miles southeast of the hopping Skip Mallory Square. Avoiding the mobs of cruise-ship passengers isn`t easy to do, but this southernmost spot in Key West, Fla., offers residents and vacationers time to soak in the sun`s final rays of light mixed with shadows. Its location and beautiful panoramic view are home to several photographs and paintings by renowned and local artists. It`s also the venue for Independence Day celebrations, with street fairs and carnivals providing a relaxing and at the same time, breath-taking sunset.

Santa Monica Pier, Los Angeles, California:

This is the one cliche sunset scene that everyone has to do, at least once in their life. The Santa Monica Pier, an American icon, is a sight in and of itself, with its famous Ferris wheel. It is even more so after adding the back-drop of a setting sun to it. In addition to its infamous Ferris wheel, residents and visitors alike will love riding the parks 1920s-built carousel and dining out at restaurants while watching the big disk in the sky fall below the horizon. It is one of the most photographed places in America, and offers a fun ambiance at sunset.

Mauna Kea, Hawaii:

Though the summit closes after sunset, and you`ll need to rent a four-wheel-drive vehicle, this stop is the last one in the U.S. for a never-duplicated sunset. At 13,796 feet, the Big Island`s summit is totally worth the trouble to see the mountain`s pyramid-shaped shadow stretch hundreds of miles across the Pacific Ocean. Unlike many other sunsets, Mauna Kea`s high altitude and dry environment deliver some of the most breath-taking views in the U.S.

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Story Image: WeatherBug Meteorologist Andrew Rosenthal captures this stunning sunset off Santa Monica Pier, Calif., in June 2001.

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