With an impressive 24 certified International Dark-Sky Places spanning the state, Utah is a treasure trove for avid astrophotographers and stargazers. Consider its low relative humidity, high elevation, and predominantly clear skies – then pair it with awe-inspiring landscapes – and you have a winning combination for admiring the night sky.
With so many ideal destinations around the Beehive State, deciding where to start can feel overwhelming. Discover our top picks for viewing the Utah stars at night.
Where are the best places to Stargaze in Utah?
Our guide caters to all preferences: from remote, off-the-beaten-path locations to easy-access parks near major towns and cities. Your ideal spot for unforgettable stargazing in Utah lies ahead!
1. Canyonlands National Park
The state’s least-visited national park saw a mere 742,271 visitors throughout 2017. Still, it’s no less striking than its more famous counterparts. Its remote nature with little to no light pollution is to thank for its status as a Dark Sky Park.
Aside from breathtaking wilderness and geographic marvels, Canyonlands National Park is one of the top locations for stargazing in Utah. Visitors can see Saturn’s rings with a common pair of binoculars during optimal conditions! Tourists are welcome to stargaze solo or attend the occasional ranger-led outing.
2. Dead Horse Point State Park
A 10-minute drive from Canyonlands National Park, you’ll find Dead Horse Point State Park. This adjacent destination is incredible in its own right, featuring high desert woodland and beautiful trails stretching for miles.
On top of picturesque canyon views during daylight hours, nighttime at Dead Horse Point State Park is spectacular. Its elevation, mountains in the distance, and lack of light pollution make for prime astrophotography conditions – or simply getting a good look at the Utah stars at night.
3. Fremont Indian State Park & Museum
Ancient inhabitants of the region encompassing Fremont Indian State Park and Museum left behind various artifacts, petroglyphs, and pictographs. These depicted their reverence for the area’s highly visible heavenly bodies.
Today, the state park continues to captivate visitors as a prime location for stargazing in Utah. It has routinely organized celestial events since opening in 1987, including archaeoastronomical observances and star parties.
68 miles from Provo lies the quaint town of Helper, where residents get to appreciate the magnificent Utah stars at night, every night. As a designated International Dark Sky Community, Helper decided to govern lighting around town, reducing light pollution and enhancing the nightscape.
Helper supports a Dark Skies Observers Club, which hosts guest astronomers and organizes frequent celestial viewing parties. The public is welcome to attend these gatherings, usually held at the local cemetery on the eastern side of town, during which telescopes and tablets are readily available.
5. Kodachrome Basin State Park
Boasting an otherworldly presence due to the 67 monolithic stone spires dotting the landscape, Kodachrome Basin State Park is a site to behold day and night. Conveniently located under 25 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park – another excellent stargazing destination – this state park offers amazing astrophotography opportunities.
Visitors can look forward to more than contemplating the Utah stars at night. Kodachrome Basin State Park also offers glow-in-the-dark disc golf and regular star parties.
6. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Sacred to several Native American tribes in the Four Corners region, Rainbow Bridge National Monument spans just 160 acres, but its beauty more than makes up for its size. Because the site, featuring one of the world’s longest and tallest natural bridges, is only accessible via a two-hour boat journey or a multi-day overland hike, the area remains exceptionally dark. This, and its remote location, leads to pristine night skies, making it one of the most ideal spots for stargazing in Utah.
7. Timpanogos Cave National Monument
The second-ever designated Urban Night Sky Place, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, received this distinction by being close to a major city (only 35 miles from Salt Lake City), yet offering a true nighttime experience. This is thanks to the tireless work that goes into its community programs.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument has partnered with local astronomy groups and the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. These collaborations enable the park to offer frequent night sky programs in nearby American Fork Canyon throughout the summer.
As the entryway to the adjoining Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey is itself a stellar location for surveying the Utah stars at night. The historic town’s proximity to said national park led its residents to commit to protecting the area’s dark skies.
Locals retrofitted Torrey’s street lights with dark-sky-compliant technology. Residents also launched an outreach and education campaign to significantly reduce light pollution with the bordering national park and a regional nonprofit.
9. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest
Although not an International Dark Sky Place, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest spans 2.2 million acres. Its vastness and untamed splendor make it one of the most accessible destinations for stargazing in Utah. As a bonus, the forest is within a 3-hour drive from various official Dark Sky designations like Jordanelle State Park and Helper.
Keen astrophotographers and astronomers also have a host of accommodation options to choose from. Daniels Summit Lodge is a popular choice in the region for its rustic log cabin ambiance and numerous on-site activities, including horseback riding, mountain biking, fishing, and, yes – stargazing!
10. Zion National Park
Set in a junction where the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau, and Mojave Desert meet, Zion National Park features remarkable geographic, fauna, and flora diversity. It’s, at least partially, thanks to this diverse backdrop, that visitors flock from all over to gaze upon and capture the Utah stars at night.
Zion National Park has been offering nocturnal programs for years. Even beyond its borders, the park is passionate about protecting dark skies – engaging in public education and outreach efforts.
Start Your Stargazing in Utah Journey
Are you ready for an astronomical adventure after going over all these fantastic destinations? Start by deciding on a centrally located base like Daniels Summit Lodge, and make an entire celestial viewing trip of it! Book your stay for the summer now to avoid disappointment.
Let us know where you’re most excited to go first; we love hearing from you.