Where to Find the Best Sunsets in Chattanooga
There’s a reason Chattanooga goes by Scenic City, and you know why the closer you get to downtown. Lookout Mountain beckons approximately 2,000 feet above the city, while the Tennessee River weaves between Chattanooga and the mountains. The natural beauty is hard to miss no matter the direction you arrive into town.
Known for being the transition between the Cumberland Plateau and the Appalachian Mountains, Scenic City boasts a number of breathtaking views. So, if you’re looking for things to do in Chattanooga, taking advantage of the scenery is a worthwhile decision. A good place to start (or end the day) is at sunset. To unlock some of the best sunsets in Chattanooga, you’ll want to go somewhere with a little height. Watch the sky put on a show at some of our favorite spots in the area.
The name of this overlook says it all. Sunset Rock is one of the most popular vistas in Chattanooga. Located on the northwestern side of Lookout Mountain, this sunset spot is loved for its short approach and sweeping views of the Tennessee River, Signal Mountain and Prentice Cooper State Forest.
Not only is Sunset Rock a great spot for relaxing while watching the sunset, it is also a very sought-after rock climbing area. With route development that began in the 1960s, climbing has become a popular activity at Sunset Rock, due to its world-class rock quality and range in route difficulty.
For history enthusiasts, Sunset Rock is also known for its involvement in the Civil War. Part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga Military State Park, Sunset Rock was once used as a lookout by troops during battle.
How to Get There: Sunset Rock is about a 0.2 mile out-and-back hike from the main parking area. However, it’s worth noting there are limited parking spaces, some of which are designated for only one hour. Luckily, there are multiple options for hiking to Sunset Rock. Take a more historic approach from the direction of either Craven’s House or Point Park. Both hikes are a little more than 3 miles long but have their own unique views along the way.
Distance from RiverView Inn: 8 minutes to Sunset Rock trailhead via main parking area off W Brow Road
Walnut Street Bridge
Grab an ice cream at Clumpies in North Shore, and stroll across Walnut Street Bridge at golden hour. If you’re wanting to stay in town for sunset, walking across the bridge will give you an all-encompassing view of the city and surrounding mountains. Designated for pedestrians only, the bridge crosses the Tennessee river, connecting Northshore and downtown Chattanooga.
Established in 1890, the Walnut Street Bridge is another historic piece of the city. It closed to traffic in 1978 due to safety concerns but reopened in 1993 after a restoration campaign turned it into a pedestrian walkway. In the years following, the reopening of Walnut Street Bridge has been regarded as a symbol of Chattanooga’s rebirth.
How to Get There: Park in the public parking lot or at any of the meters beside Walnut Street Bridge on the North Shore side of town. The parking area is located behind a row of shops.
Distance from RiverView Inn: 10-15 minute drive, if parking at the Northshore parking lot
Discover more of Chattanooga’s natural beauty and Civil War history atop Signal Mountain. With an overlook only a few yards from the parking area, Signal Point is another easy-to-reach, panoramic viewpoint just 20 minutes from downtown. Watch the sunset from the overlook at Signal Point Park, or hop on the trail for an even better, jaw-dropping view.
If you’re thinking about leaving the main area for the trailhead, the 0.5-mile trek to the Julia Falls Overlook will give you a front-row seat to sunset. Clocking in around a mile total, be wary that this trail has a series of steep stairs and rocks. Once at the overlook, watch the sun sink behind the Cumberland Plateau in the Tennessee River Gorge — a place known as the “Grand Canyon of the South.”
How to Get There: The best way to get to Signal Point Park is from the National Park Service parking lot. Start from the parking lot, and walk down the hill past the bathroom facilities on the left. There you’ll find the overlook.
Distance from RiverView Inn: 25 minutes to Signal Point via NPS parking area
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Head on top of Lookout Mountain for another spectacular opportunity for catching sunset less than an hour outside of Chattanooga. Cloudland Canyon State Park sits on the western side of Lookout Mountain with 1,000-foot deep canyons, waterfalls and creeks. Offering approximately 64 miles of trails, there are plenty of chances for sunset watching.
One of the easiest trails with arguably the best views is the Overlook Trail. With two main overlooks, you can watch the sky turn beautiful shades of purples and pinks as the sun sets over the west.
Note: There is a day pass fee, so be prepared to pay at the kiosk with cash or card inside the gift shop.
How to Get There: Start on the path lined with benches along the parking lot. This trail is a ½ mile total (approximately 1 mile round trip), you can start walking right from the parking area. The trail is marked with light blue blazes.
Distance from RiverView Inn: 30 minute drive to the state park.
Located within Prentice Cooper State Park, Snoopers Rock is another perfect place for posting up during sunset. With panoramic views of the Tennessee River Gorge, this is a spot you don’t want to miss. Take a short walk from the Snoopers Rock parking lot, and you can make it in time to watch the sky erupt into color over the “Horseshoe Bend” of the Tennessee River.
Note: This area is subject to hunting season closure. Check the Prentice Cooper State Park website before heading to the park.
How to Get There: Once you drive into the state park, continue along Game Reserve Rd for about 5-10 minutes until you reach a parking area off Tower Drive. The trailhead will be next to the info sign on the south side. This is an out-and-back trail that is approximately 0.7 miles roundtrip.
Distance from RiverView Inn: 45 minutes to the parking lot near the Snoopers Rock Trailhead (about 35 minutes to the state park)
Want to Stay Overnight in Chattanooga?
If you’re staying in Chattanooga for sunset, why not stick around for the night and watch sunrise? Wake up at RiverView Inn and catch a spectacular sunrise over East Ridge and the Tennessee River. Start your day with a cup of coffee from the balcony of any of our beautiful rooms — we have plenty to choose from. Check the availability to learn more.