The Pacific Northwest, often cloaked in its rain-draped reputation, unveils a vibrant summer palette that stands in stark contrast to common perceptions. The sunsets here are, without a doubt, in a class by themselves. As summer caresses the Northwest, it swathes the skies with an ethereal mix of colors, creating daily masterpieces that resonate with both locals and visitors.
Summer’s still bringing the heat, but guess what? Those long, sun-soaked days are starting to wind down. If you’re a sunset chaser like me, we’ve got just about a month left before nighttime steals the show. Bummer, right?
Here’s a quick heads-up: The autumn equinox is knocking on our door and it’s set to arrive on September 23, 2023. For those not into the astro-stuff, it simply means day and night will be sharing equal stage time. All thanks to Earth doing its signature 23.5° tilt – kinda like its very own dance move.
For Portlanders, there’s a little sunset trivia for ya: This Friday, August 25, we’ll see our last 8:00 p.m. sunset for the year! That’s right, the sun’s taking a bow at 8:01 p.m., and by Saturday, it’s curtains at 7:59 p.m. I know, right? Time flies!
We’re shedding about 3 minutes of sun each day. So, whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, get ready for a shift in your sun schedule. And yeah, brace yourselves for some cooler vibes; our usual daytime highs will drop around 10 degrees come September. But on the plus side? We’ll be treated to those amazing fall colors that make the Pacific Northwest the envy of all our out-of-state pals.
Thanks to its northern latitude, the Northwest basks in extended daylight hours during the summer. Cities like Seattle and Portland relish sunsets as late as 9 p.m. or even beyond at summer’s zenith. This lengthened golden hour drapes the landscape in a warm, dreamy hue that photographers fervently chase.
The diverse landscapes of the Northwest, ranging from rugged coastlines to majestic mountain backdrops, serve as the ultimate canvas for the setting sun. Imagine the sun’s reflection on the serene waters of Puget Sound or the silhouette of Mount Hood against a gradient twilight sky—it’s pure poetry.
But Northwest sunsets aren’t just about that iconic golden allure. Clear days usher in an explosion of pinks, purples, and deep oranges. And then there are those fleeting summer clouds, which act as prisms, catching and refracting sunlight into spectacular skyscapes that seem plucked from a fantasy.
Venture to coastal towns like Cannon Beach in Oregon or the San Juan Islands in Washington, and you’re in for a treat. Watching the sun dip below the horizon, set against landmarks like Haystack Rock, is an unforgettable experience.
A notable aspect of summers in the Northwest is the occasional forest fire. While these fires pose significant environmental challenges, the resulting smoke and particulates in the atmosphere can intensify sunset colors. This diffusion of sunlight through the smoky haze can produce sunsets of unparalleled vibrancy.
Adding to the allure, many Northwest communities celebrate the radiant summer season with events centered around these sunset spectacles. Think sunset yoga on the waterfront or “sunset sip” wine tours in the region’s sprawling vineyards. It’s evident that the daily sunset display deeply intertwines with local culture.
While the Pacific Northwest may be celebrated for its misty forests and iconic rainy demeanor, its summers present a radiant counter-narrative. Each evening, the setting sun not only marks the end of a day but also paints a vivid picture of the region’s mesmerizing beauty.
Stay golden, Portland, and keep those cozy sweaters handy! In October 2023, the skies will present a celestial show like no other—the annular solar eclipse. Don’t forget to check out our complete guide to the 2023 Annualar Solar Eclipse in Oregon.