Despite being a self-identified morning person, I’ll admit that catching sight of the rising sun is a rare occurrence for me, particularly during the summer. While I can often get myself up before sunrise during ski season – aided by a drive for first tracks and a much later rise – it’s rare that I make it up before 5 a.m. for a summer sunrise. Thankfully,what goes up must come down, and on most evenings we’re also treated to the beauty of a colorful sunset.

In our Instagram-driven world, there’s a huge drive to document your days beyond simply experiencing your hike, trip or destination. While I won’t argue the pros and cons of outdoor pursuits being driven by social media capital (that would take a whole article, and probably more than my usual 800 words), I’ll go forth with a simpler premise – who among us doesn’t love a beautiful picture of a sunset?

In Maine, we tend to focus more on sunrise. It makes sense; we’re the first state in the nation to be hit by the morning sun, and because of our east-facing coast, shooting a sunrise means shooting over our beautiful Atlantic coast, often with a lighthouse or other equally impressive scenery in the foreground. However, Maine has some truly spectacular sunsets as well. Here are a few of my favorite places to catch the setting sun, along with tips for getting that perfect shot.

The Western Promenade in Portland is a popular spot to shoot from, with good reason – its elevated position provides a clear view west, and you’re looking right toward the setting sun. However, the scenery (Thompson’s Point, South Portland and the jetport) leaves a bit to be desired. Though you won’t get a good view of the sun itself, I recommend Portlanders instead head to East End Beach, where the sky turns orange and purple as the sun sets. Views of Fort Gorges and the Calendar Islands are a perfect subject for the vibrant colors.

Sunset at Madeleine Point toward Yarmouth and Cumberland Foreside. Photo by Josh Christie

While most of the trail around Littlejohn Island Preserve will direct your attention away from the setting sun, the beaches on the north side of the island look to the northwest, toward Blaney and Cornfield Points on Cousins Island. Old growth trees and abundant sea grass make for a wonderful foreground, turned golden by the setting sun. Nearby Madeleine Point offers a view west from Cousins Island, with the sun setting over Yarmouth and Cumberland Foreside. Boats dot the harbor at the end of the day, and a dock and small beach provide great shooting locations.

Rocky Bailey Island Beach at the literal end of the road at Land’s End on Bailey Island is another choice spot, looking southwest toward Turnip and Jaquish islands. The Lobsterman’s Statue, just outside Land’s End Gift Shop, is a classic feature to incorporate into your photos. Land’s End is just one of a bevy of dramatic seaside spots for photography on Bailey Island, Orr’s Island and in Harpswell. Other great options include Mackerel Cove (also on Bailey Island, and usually packed with lobster traps and boats), Lookout Point (just off Harpswell Center, on a peninsula surrounded by islands), and the Cribstone Bridge connecting Orr’s and Bailey.

Height of Land, between Rangeley and Rumford on the Rangeley Lakes Scenic Byway, gives an unparalleled view of the western mountains of Maine. Mooselookmeguntic Lake sits front and center below the pull-off at Height of Land, with a clear, elevated view far west into New Hampshire. The only downside of shooting sunsets here is a lack of distinctive landmarks to put in the foreground, though the plaque for the scenic spot and the clearing below the road (which is often flush with wildflowers like lupines in the late spring) are solid options.

In Baxter State Park, Mt. Katahdin is a dramatic sight in the setting sun. It’s tough to get a good view of the mountain shooting from the east to catch the sun, where you lose the iconic profile of the peaks and ridges. Instead, your best options are to set up by either the Abol Bridge or Compass Pond, both on the Golden Road north of Millinocket. Both offer unparalleled views of Katahdin’s majesty, with either a pond or running river in the foreground. The sun will be setting off to the west, so there’s no chance to get it in your frame, but you can make the colorful sky and golden light work to your advantage.

And if you can manage it, there’s always something to be said for shooting the sunset from the Atlantic Ocean. What better backdrop for your photos, after all, than Maine’s islands, lighthouses and coastal communities? The Casco Bay Lines sunset cruise remains one of the best deals in the state for this perspective, with a three-hour cruise around Casco Bay while the sun sets for less than $20.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer living in Portland. Along with his brother, Jake, he writes about great Maine destinations for outdoors enthusiasts. Josh can be reached at:

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