Ottawa - the sunset capital of Canada? Yes!

Did you know that Ottawa is a really great place to enjoy sunsets?? I was surprised to read about this in the CBC 2014 article written by Andrew Foote: "Experts say a mix of natural gifts gives Ottawa more spectacular sunsets more often than other parts of Canada." 

These conditions include: lack of skylines (that block view), good view of horizon (flat area), limited fog and just the right amount of haze.  There was also a quote from a local photographer:  "It's the end of the day and it's the time when everything gets very quiet," she said.  "I think sunsets just make us think and feel more."

The great thing about sunsets is that you can enjoy them year round.

In the winter when the sun sets much earlier, many people get to enjoy a peek as they drive home (but perhaps they don't get to really take them in and truly savour them).  Some of these sunsets with the white horizon and monochromatic backdrop can be quite stunning.  In the summer, sunsets have the perk of warm twilight hours where people are out and can linger.  And if the evening clouds provide a great reflective surface, a myriad of colours can add to the show.

If you are out in the summer in a natural setting at this time of day, wildlife spotting can be fun also. Many birds and animals can be found on the move later in the day - whether they are diurnal fauna seeking shelter or nocturnal creatures that are just getting up and coming out of their dens and burrows.  Some avoid the mid day temperatures and can be found foraging at this cooler time just before sunset.  And some wildlife comes out specifically at twilight!

crepuscular (krĭ-pŭs′ kyə-lər):  appearing or active in the twilight, as certain bats and insects (link) Other wildlife includes rabbits, skunks, mice and chimney swifts (Wikipedia)

Groundhog/Woodchuck (Marmota monax), a member of the squirrel family, very adaptable to urban areas.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), a wading bird that benefits from wetlands and ponds created by healthy beaver populations.

Ring-billed Gull - note yellow legs (Larus delawarensis), sociable and opportunistic urban "seagull".

Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus), semi-aquatic rodent (smaller than a beaver) thriving in Pickerel weed and Yellow Pond Lily habitat.

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) duck family.  Monogamous pairs, can have up to 13 ducklings and two broods a season.
Fathers are not seen but are close-by.

If you are living (or visiting) the National Capital area, here are some suggestions for your next evening outing:

Nepean Point (behind National Art Gallery downtown) - this location has great vistas and some wildlife may be spotted in the park or down below on the river (bring your binoculars!)

Carlington Hill (near Carling Avenue and Clyde Avenue) - another great spot for north-westerly views that take in the Gatineau hills and may offer some wildlife sightings including owls and roosting birds due to small woodlot south of the hill.

Mooney's Bay (near Hog's Back falls) - the beach and park provides panoramic views across the bay and from the southern part of the park the sun sets just behind the apartment buildings on Prince of Wales Driveway.  Frogs, dragonflies and waterfowl can be found here.

Rockcliffe Parkway (east of the downtown) - this parkway paralleling the Ottawa River has many access points for cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the northern horizon along the waterfront. You can enjoy elevated views from the Pavilion and Lookout or stop at one of the many parking lots if you drive to this location.  (Parking Lot 6 near the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre is a good option and includes a public outhouse in the summer.)

Parc Guillot/Parc des Rapides-Deschênes (Gatineau Side - west of downtown Hull/Gatineau) - don't discount the Quebec side!  Even though the sun will set behind the hills and not over the water, sometimes the sun's reflections in clouds and water are great from this angle.  Also the bike paths here provide access to the very shallow limestone and mudflat shores.

Further Out of the City (accessible by bike or bus):

Britannia Beach - this wide stretch of the Ottawa River (also know as Lac Deschênes) provides great sunset views and possible wildlife encounters.  You can also visit the purple martin colony that is located at the Britannia Yacht Club.

Petrie Island - known as a "hidden gem within the city", the larger narrow island that is accessible to the public is a great experience because on one side you will find marshes and on the other the Ottawa River which allows a rich mixture of flora and fauna to flourish here. Remember no dogs are allowed in the Grandmaitre Nature Reserve.

Photo Credit: All photos by Viliam Glazduri (InstagramFlickr500 pxContributing Creative to Wild. Here.

And please share in the comments if you are in another city: 
where do you go for the best sunsets in town?

Happy Sunset Seeking!


  1. Where was the photo with the gazebo taken? MacDonald Gardens Park?

    1. Yes Samantha - that's exactly it - MacDonald Gardens Park off Rideau Street in Lowertown East.

      (Sorry somehow I missed your question last summer!)