If you want to gaze in wonder at the Milky Way…

Telescope Stargazinghunt for star clusters or connect the dots of constellations, Utah is the place to be.

The Beehive state boasts the highest concentration of the best dark skies in the world, as determined by the International Dark-Sky Association, which certifies places with stellar starry nights.

The best stargazing in Utah can be found in national and state parks all over the state. How many dark sky parks are in Utah? The latest count is 14, with more to come since Utah State Parks launched a Dark Sky Initiative to add another 10 parks to the list.



Wild Dark Skies

Starry Reflection White RimWhat the following International Dark Sky Parks have in common is that they’re located in remote and mostly wild places where managers are committed to reducing light pollution. Here are the best places to go stargazing in Utah:

  • Antelope Island State Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Capitol Reef National Park
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument
  • Dinosaur National Monument
  • Dead Horse Point State Park
  • Goblin Valley State Park
  • Great Basin National Park
  • Hovenweep National Monument
  • Natural Bridges National Monument
  • Rainbow Bridge National Monument
  • Steinaker State Park
  • Weber County North Fork Park
  • Torrey, Utah

The best time to stargaze is during cold, clear winter nights, on moonless nights or in the days before and after each new moon. Spring and autumn are great times to stargaze because the nights are longer and it’s not as cold as the winter.

But even summer nights are splendid for gaping at the Milky Way. The key is to get out of the cities and into the wild.

Which is why river trips are an excellent way for astrotourists to get their fix: The river will take you to remote, virtually untouched places where no light pollution can spoil the view.

Holiday River Expeditions offers specialty stargazing trips, in which experts trained in astronomy lead nighttime stargazing parties. Those trips take you on the Green or Colorado rivers through Desolation Canyon, Cataract Canyon, Lodore Canyon and Labyrinth Canyon.

But virtually every white-water rafting trip offers the chance for out-of-this-world wonder.


By: Heather May

Heather MayHeather May’s first white water rafting trip was the Gates of Lodore with Holiday River Expeditions and she can’t wait to return. She’s an award-winning journalist based in Salt Lake City. She covers travel, food and health for a variety of publications. You can connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/heathermayslc


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