Discover the glimmering field of stars that appear after a radiant-colored sunset on the hoodoo horizon of Bryce Canyon Country. Visitors are often stunned by the number of shining stars and the swirling Milky Way that can be seen stretching from one end of the sky to the other.
About one-third of the world’s population miss out on the beauty of the night sky’s glow because they live surrounded by city lights and light pollution that fills towns and urban areas. As a low-populated area far from cities, Bryce Canyon Country offers an ideal scenic view both day and night filled with stars.
Where Can I Stargaze in Utah?
Bryce Canyon Country has some of the best stargazing locations anywhere in the world! The following areas provide some of the best stargazing experiences in Utah.
Bryce Canyon National Park:
In Bryce Canyon, visitors can see up to 7,500 stars on a moonless night. As stargazers look at the sky, the Milky Way stretches from horizon to horizon. Among the stars, some planets, including Venus and Jupiter, can be seen and are shining brightly enough to cast a shadow.
Kodachrome Basin State Park
Kodachrome Basin has clear, beautiful night skies. “The night skies over here are some of the best I’ve seen,” said Prajit Ravindran, who has a passion for astrophotography. Night photography along with wildlife watching, camping and hiking are perfect activities in the park, with the sandstone, sandpipe columns as a backdrop.
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Grand Staircase Escalante is a large, remote monument, making it a great place for campers to experience the night sky. Visitors have an opportunity to stay in campgrounds or “primitive camping locations” and sleep under the stars.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park is the seventh unit of the National Park Service to become an “International Dark Sky Park” designated by the International Dark-Sky Association. Being labelled a “Gold Tier” park signifies of the highest-quality night skies that come during the annual International Dark Sky Week.
Each of these places brings a unique stargazing experience that no one should miss as they travel throughout the parks.
Is Bryce Canyon an International Dark Sky Park?
Yes! On August 13, 2019, Bryce Canyon National Park received certification as an International Dark Sky Park (IDSP) from the International Dark Sky Association and National Park Service.
This certification recognizes Bryce Canyon as a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park indicating the exceptional quality of the park’s night skies. With this award, the park becomes one of over 120 certified IDSPs in the world. As one of the first parks to offer night sky programs 50 years ago, this achievement took decades to achieve and continues a long tradition of dark sky advocacy, education and conservation.
Stargazing Tours and Programs
Observe the nighttime scene with hoodoo silhouetted by the Milky Way when you participate in Bryce Canyon Country’s stargazing tours and programs.
- Private Tour Companies help you explore the sky with big telescopes in the darkest places. Watch live multimedia presentations, learn constellations in laser sky tours or join a full moon hike.
- Bryce Canyon National Park has staff, rangers and volunteers qualified for detailed presentations that occur on Wednesday and Friday evenings from May through September. These astronomy programs are usually a short presentation followed often by stargazing with telescopes. No reservations are required, but it is advised to arrive 15-30 minutes early. Ranger-guided full moon hikes are an exciting way to experience the park and its stunning sky. Full moon hiking spots are limited and last 1-2 miles or 2-3 hours.
- Kodachrome Basin State Park hosts star parties throughout the summer where the park manager guides you through a constellation tour. In the tour, learn about the planets, stars, galaxies and other celestial phenomena. For updated information, please check the park’s website.
Other Stargazing Events
Bryce Canyon National Park also has events for stargazing enthusiasts. The staff, rangers and volunteers are qualified to give detailed astronomy presentations that occur on Wednesday and Friday evenings between May and September. During the new moon each month, night hikes are offered for 1-2 days. These guided hikes are limited and give an exclusive look at the moonlight casting spooky shadows on the hoodoos.
Another highlight during the summer in Bryce Canyon is the Astronomy Festival, which celebrates the new moon in late June or early July each year. During the festival, rangers conduct more nightly presentations and night hikes. Experts also lead telescope-viewing sessions throughout the festival. Other star-related events in the park are programs and workshops focusing on topics including selecting and operating telescopes and involving the entire family in astronomy.
To find out more about astronomy in Bryce Canyon National Park call (435) 834-5322 or visit www.nps.gov. If you want to book a private night sky activity through Dark Ranger Telescope Tours click here.