There are several great spots to see Tucson around the area.
The closest is "A" Mountain, home of the Big "A" near Downtown. The official name is Sentinel Peak, which is also what you see on the signs. There is a drive around the top that offers some great views of Downtown and the rest of the basin. The park is only open sunrise to sunset though, so seeing the lights is not an easy option. There is a parking lot near the base, where you can park and walk up, but this isn't always a good idea at night as that particular lot sometimes has partiers hanging out at it.
The most famous is probably Windy Point, which is perched at about 6000' above sea level (over 3000' above the basin) in the Santa Catalina Mountains. The Catalina Highway goes right up to this spot, and it was made very nice by the forest service recently, but it's also very crowded, especially on the weekends. Windy Point is also very cold in the winters, when it begins to really deserve its name.
A little harder to get to, but good for city lights is Redington Pass. This is in the Rincon Mountains, so it's not quite as high, and is separated from the city, so the view isn't quite as good. It's also a dirt road leading up, and has no facilities. It's nice for romance though, as it's much more secluded than other spots. Tanque Verde Road east until it turns to dirt, wind up the switchbacks and park off the road when you find a suitable view.
My favorite though is Mount Bigelow. Perched at a little under 9000', this is where several local TV and radio stations have their antennas. During the day, you can walk through a small meadow to an outcropping of rocks for a great view of the eastern and central parts of the basin. At night, there is relatively no one in the mountains, so you can sit in your car right at the top and watch the lights. Catalina Highway, right on Mount Bigelow Road. Right at the fork, follow the road to the end at the gravel parking lot. (CLOSED IN WINTER)
The best sunsets can be had at Gates Pass, which is in the Tucson Mountains down Speedway Boulevard (which becomes Gates Pass Road).
The best time to come is in the spring or fall when the sun is nearly directly west and sets over the distant mountains. Gates Pass overlooks the sprawling Avra Valley.
You can simply watch it from the parking lot, or you can be adventurous and climb the rock peaks to find a better or more secluded spot.
Arizona has some of the world’s most beautiful sunsets. Such profound beauty cannot be described in words, or captured in pictures. To truly understand the magnificence of an Arizona sunset, you must witness one firsthand.
Tucson is situated in a natural basin wedged between the Santa Catalina Mountains to the North, east is the 7,000 foot Rincon Mountain range, west lies the 4,200 foot high Tucson Mountains, and south of town is the 9,000 foot Santa Rita range. There are plenty of activities available in the mountains, from hiking, biking, and although hard to believe, skiing.
Ski Valley on Mount Lemmon is the southern-most ski area in the United States, boasting an average snowfall of 175 inches and three months of skiing. I wish I would have known this before I left for Tucson, I could have packed some ski clothing.
While driving to or from Mt Lemmon there are many spots to pull off and photograph. Barnum Rock as pictured was important to prevent the spread of wildfires in the early 1920's honorary Boy Scouts would be stationed on this rock to help the Forest Service be on a lookout for forest fires. Can you imagine being stationed out there? (it is the higher rock with least amount of trees on it)
Definitely one of the interesting views of the desert is from the look out at Gates Pass. This is the mountain range West of downtown tucson and is the drive you go through to visit Old Tucson or Desert Museum. I think the look out closes at dark, but it is spectacular for sunrise and sunset.
This is a view I caught of Tucson on a cloudy December day. These beautiful sunsets are common and a part of living in Tucson. Only place I have seen something comparable is Key West.
You can view the sunsets from anywhere along Skyline road and really catch the majesty of the whole thing. Enjoy!
While driving up to Mt Lemmon there are many beautiful spots to stop and view or photograph. The view of the San Pedro Valley is beautiful. On a clear day you can see all the way to New Mexico.