What are the best places for stargazing in Utah?

The early morning hours of Thursday witnessed the peak of a dazzling annual meteor shower, illuminating the Utah skies with vibrant streaks of light. Utah has been identified as an ideal location for observing this meteor shower, which is known as the Geminids. Although there are numerous meteor showers scheduled for 2023, the Geminids stand out due to their remarkable volume and visibility. Starting on November 19, this celestial phenomenon reached its climax on December 14, but will continue to grace the heavens until December 24, as reported by NASA.

While the Geminids shower captures the attention of many, it is not the only meteor shower visible in December. The Ursids meteor shower, a more subtle event, will take place from December 17 to 26, peaking on the night of December 22, according to the National Space Centre in the United Kingdom.

Although both meteor showers can be observed from various locations during their peak times, Utah offers several spots that provide a particularly breathtaking view. Whether you have the opportunity to witness the Geminids or Ursids or plan to visit at a later date, these locations are all worth exploring, as they offer extraordinary glimpses of the night sky.

Discover the Best Stargazing Spots in Utah

1. National Parks

Utah boasts five national parks, each offering expansive views of the starry night sky due to their limited light pollution. Additionally, most of these parks organize special events dedicated to stargazing. Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Dead Horse Point State Park frequently collaborate on stargazing programs during the spring and fall seasons. Bryce Canyon National Park hosts an annual Astronomy Festival in June, while Capitol Reef showcases its Heritage StarFest in September.

All five of Utah’s national parks are internationally recognized as Dark Sky Places, meeting the criteria set by DarkSky International. These Dark Sky Places are defined as communities, parks, and protected areas worldwide that prioritize responsible lighting policies and public education.

2. State and Local Parks

Utah is home to 46 state parks, several of which are designated as International Dark Sky Places, such as Timpanogos Cave and Jordanelle State Park. Even those state parks without this official designation still experience less light pollution compared to urban areas in Utah.

One noteworthy Dark Sky listing in Utah, not classified as a national or state park, is North Fork Park in Ogden.

3. Dark Sky Communities

Helper, Springdale, and Torrey are three towns in southern Utah that have earned the prestigious title of Dark Sky communities. These towns are conveniently located near famous Utah landmarks. Helper lies on the route to Nine Mile Canyon, Springdale serves as the gateway to Zion National Park, and Torrey is situated in close proximity to Capitol Reef National Park.

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