Stargazing in Southern Utah
The night sky has always captivated humankind. There’s something magical about looking up at the stars and realizing just how big this beautiful world is. The stars can lead you home, help you feel safe when it’s dark and cold, keep your imagination overflowing with constellations and images in the sky, and leave you wondering what else is out there. Many Americans aren’t able to see the stars due to the city lights, but thankfully in Utah all it takes is a short drive out of the city to view the ancient lights in the sky!
Zion National Park’s night sky is truly breathtaking. You can see the stars while camping, or you could take a hike during night time to see a view of the sky that will leave you speechless. Another way to enjoy the beautiful sights is to take a drive through the Mt. Carmel tunnel route in a convertible or a car with a sun roof to see the stars above you.
Ashcroft Observatory opened in the early 1970’s and with keeping in their long-standing tradition, the observatory remains focused on learning opportunities and community involvement. Ashcroft Observatory is usually open every Monday about an hour after the sun sets and they are also open randomly throughout the week. Be sure check them out on their Facebook Page before heading out to stay updated on hours! The observatory is free and open to public.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks National Monument became an International Dark Sky Park in 2017 and is one of the largest areas of remaining natural darkness in the lower 48 U.S. states. The National Monument even hosts star parties year-round! This beautiful area is over 10,000 feet above sea level with an incredible geological amphitheater. Just 25 minutes east of Cedar City, Cedar Breaks National Monument is open every day and visitors can enter the at anytime. Some roads and/or facilities may be closed during winter weather storms.
You can see thousands of stars at night due to Bryce Canyon National Park’s dark sky. You can even see the Andromeda Galaxy that is 2.2 million light years away! The park features many astronomy events, and programs from rangers that are experts in the field. No reservations are required for these programs, and they host about 100 a year!
Dark State Parks
Thanks to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) ,we have a growing number of dark locations protected from light pollution, as they “work to protect the night skies for present and future generations”. The association is currently guiding 12 state parks, more than 1/4 of Utah’s 43 state parks, through the application and accreditation program (src: visitutah.com). You can view this map here from IDA that shows locations that are part of the International Dark Sky Places Program. Pictured above is Goblin Valley State Park.