Dark Sky Week in Utah

Good news for stargazers and nature enthusiasts, for the third year in a row, April has been designated as Utah’s Dark Sky Month in an effort to promote clearer night skies and to highlight areas of the state where the stars are brightest. You might be surprised to learn that Utah is one of the top destinations for Dark Sky Week with over 24 International Dark Sky Association-designated Dark Sky Places. 

But what is Dark Sky Week? International Dark Sky Week takes place every year during the new moon in April. During this week residents are encouraged to keep their lights off at night in order to reduce light pollution and let the stars shine. This event was founded in 2003 by high school student Jennifer Barlow as a way to raise awareness about the negative effects of light pollution. This year’s Dark Sky Week starts on April 15th and ends on April 22nd. 

Be sure to take advantage of this amazing opportunity and bask in the bliss of your cosmic insignificance underneath the starriest skies that Utah has to offer with these unique experiences;

For the Adventurer 

Whitewater raft beneath the stars for an out-of-this-world experience by using the illuminated Utah sky night as your “night light.” Let the knowledgeable guides of Holiday River Expeditions pave the way as they share ancient history and cultural stories told by the constellations. 

Holiday River Expeditions also leads a mountain biking and stargazing experience throughout The Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. 

Flyfish under the stars in Northern Lake Powell near Natural Bridges National Monument, the first certified dark sky park in the world. 

If UTVing is more your speed, take a dark sky night ride on the hundreds of miles of desert trails in Bullfrog Basin with Ticaboo Adventure Center.

Kodachrome Basin is a dark sky park in Cannonville
Kodachrome Basin is a dark sky park in Cannonville. Photo by Austen Diamond Photography; Courtesy Visit Utah

World-Class Stargazing 

Utahns like to say, “half the park is after dark.” All of Utah’s designated Dark Sky Parks including the Mighty 5® National Parks and ten State Parks are hosting one-of-a-kind dark sky experiences throughout the year, from festivals such as Goosenecks State Park’s “Ring of Fire Fest” in celebration of the upcoming Annular Eclipse in October, to ranger-led tours, star parties and more. 

These 7 International Dark Sky destinations are not only perfect for solitude and stargazing with close proximity to Salt Lake City, but they’re also vital to protecting the state’s wildlife from light pollution, and as a bonus, offer stargazing opportunities to locals and visitors:

  1. Timpanogos Cave National Monument 
  2. Jordanelle State Park
  3. Rockport State Park 
  4. East Canyon State Park 
  5. Antelope Island State Park 
  6. North Fork Park 
  7. Helper City 

In addition to these seven great IDA-designated places, Wasatch Mountain State Park and Camp Floyd State Park offer outstanding Dark Sky experiences. Travelers on the hunt for inspiring urban observatories, planetariums, clubs, star parties and educational exhibits will find they abound in the Beehive State, including: 

  • The University of Utah’s Willard L. Eccles Observatory — an astronomical observatory located on Frisco Peak in the San Francisco Mountains
  • Join (and learn from) other stargazers at the Ogden Astronomical Society
  • The Clark Planetarium is perfect for young stargazers
  • Join up with this  group of astronomy enthusiasts and amateur astronomers who share a common passion for the night sky at the Utah Valley Astronomy Club

Michaelis Lyons
Michaelis Lyons
Michaelis is a current Editorial Intern for Salt Lake Magazine and a recent graduate from Westminster College.

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