Chattanooga is hands down one of the best places in the world to catch a sunrise or sunset, and the golden hour is extra golden in autumn. Think we’re exaggerating? Check it out for yourself. The Scenic City’s mountains, valleys, rivers, and creeks form the perfect backdrop for dreamy fall sunrises and sunsets. Here are some of the best spots in the city to start or end the day in the most picturesque way.
Walnut Street Bridge
In the heart of downtown, the Walnut Street Bridge serves up one of the best sunrises in the South. Positioning yourself smack in the middle of the bridge, halfway between the downtown bluff and the North Shore, is the best way to get the full picture. As you look eastward toward Veterans Bridge, the sun will rise just behind McClellan Island, illuminating the river in sheets of glistening orange. Looking off the other side of the bridge toward the Tennessee Aquarium, the sunset is equally stunning.
The best thing about sunrise at Stringer’s Ridge is typically the activity you’ll likely have engaged in before seeing it. There’s nothing better than an early morning hike, run or ride at Stringer’s Ridge. Endorphins pumping, the city awakening, the colors soaking the river and buildings down below. Finish it off with breakfast along the North Shore for a perfect morning.
A sunrise from Snoopers has a 100%track record of not disappointing. First off, you’ll likely have it all to yourself—or at least close to—as it’s a bit of a trek to get to, especially in the early morning dawn. Second, the view no matter what time of day is arguably the best in all of Chattanooga. Finally, throw in some early morning pinks and reds and an impossible silence.
Sunset Rock faces west. So, the sun sets in plain sight right across the valley. But before it does, it bathes the entire Lookout Valley in streaks of goldenrod glow. To the viewer’s right, the Tennessee River snakes through downtown, then around Moccasin Bend. To the left, as far as the eye can see, the bucolic pastures and woodlands of Wildwood, Georgia, soak up the day’s final rays. In a word, breathtaking.
The Hangliding Spot
Chattanooga is home to the #1 hang gliding school in the world. Located 10 miles west of Sunset Rock, along the western brow of Lookout Mountain, the Lookout Mountain FlightPark has served as a literal launchpad for thousands of amateur hang glider pilots over the last 40 years. For non-pilots, it’s perched upon a precipitous cliff with one of the most dizzyingly spectacular vistas in the area. To really kick your sunset-viewing up a notch, a tandem flight with the birds is life-changing.
Raccoon Mountain Reservoir
Just across the valley from Sunset Rock, Raccoon Mountain triples as a thrilling trail running destination, mountain biking mecca and top spot for a sunset. Beyond the East Overlook (which is actually an excellent place for a sunrise), the Pump Station Reservoir atop the mountain is where you’ll want to go. If you catch it on the right night (i.e. just after a thunderstorm when there are heavy cumulus clouds soaking up all the color), the sunsets here are about as good as they come.