Let’s be real: Utah is one of the best places in the world when it comes to stargazing. Elevation, low humidity, cooperative weather, and incredible natural wonders make Utah a perfect spot to see the night sky in all its glory. If you want to go stargazing in Utah, it’s hard to pick a bad place to do it.
I’ve been stargazing in Utah several times, including on a trip to Moab in 2020 and a cross-state road trip in 2021. I can state from first-hand experience that Utah has some of the best places for stargazing in the whole U.S., and that’s validated by the dozens of dark sky places certified by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Even if you’re visiting Utah for another reason, be sure to prioritize stargazing at least once during your time in the Beehive State. Below you’ll find 23 places for stargazing in Utah which stretch from the northern mountains to the southern high desert.
1.Antelope Island State Park
Located 25 miles north of Salt Lake City, Antelope Island State Park is one of the top places to go stargazing in Utah. This state park was granted an International Dark Sky Park certification in 2017. And not in vain. When the night falls, the dark sky is flooded by 1,500 stars.
For stargazers looking to spend the night, Antelope Island State Park offers many campground options. These include Bridger Bay Campground and White Rock Bay Campground.
2. Arches National Park
Arches National Park is an astounding place to explore day and night. Found in Southeast Utah, Arches is a geologic wonder with its 73,234-acre of eroded sandstone fins, towers, ribs, gargoyles, hoodoos, balanced rocks, and arches northwest of Moab.
Arches’ beauty isn’t reserved only for daytime. As the sun sets on the horizon, thousands of silver stars loom in a pitch-black sky. Under the right conditions, stargazers can even see Saturn’s Rings with a pair of binoculars.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park
Known as the last grand sanctuary of natural darkness, Bryce Canyon National Park is a gem for stargazers. Being far from the city’s light pollution, you can expect to see 7,500 stars during moonless and clear skies. Also, this park has been certified by the International Dark-Sky Association as one of the four of Utah’s best places to see the Milky Way. Stargazers who want to explore the star-studded sky catch a ranger-led astronomy program or set out on their own adventure.
4. Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park is Utah’s least-visited national park. And it’s exactly that solitude that makes it one of the best spots for stargazing in Utah. To gaze at the celestial bodies, this park offers visitors one-day and multi-day stargazing expeditions. There are also multiple stargazing programs across Canyonlands, Arches, and Dead Horse Point, during summer months, since they’re all so close. You can set camp in the many campgrounds or at Dead Horse Point State Park.
5. Capitol Reef National Park
Designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, Capitol Reef National Park is another of Utah’s stargazing destinations. At 7,000 feet high, this park offers limitless night skies with thousands of stars you can gaze at. From late June to October, rangers offer star talks to tour the park’s night sky and full-moon walks. If you’re a geology enthusiast, rangers also offer many talks to discover the breathtaking geology story of Capitol Reef.
6. Cedar Breaks National Monument
Home to an astounding geologic amphitheater, Cedar Breaks is also home to the most amazing dark skies you’ll ever witness. The great star viewing conditions of Cedar Breaks are due to being at 10,350 feet above sea level, far from any light pollution.
When it comes to camping, Cedar Breaks arguably has the best campground to sleep under the stars; it’s a modern campground located on the edge of an alpine meadow.
7. Dead Horse State Park
Sitting above the gorgeous White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park is Dead Horse State Park. Besides offering sweeping vistas of the Moab, the La Sal Mountains, and the Colorado River, Dead Horse gifts visitors with unobstructed views of the night sky.
Since 2016 Dead Horse Point State Park has been an officially designated International Dark Sky Park. The park hosts rotating stargazing programs during the summer to educate people on the importance of darkness.
8. Dinosaur National Monument
Don’t be fooled by its name. Dinosaur National Monument has more than bones and fossils to see. Located on the Utah border with Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument offers opportunities to go birdwatching, hiking, fishing, biking, and, of course, stargazing. In fact, Dinosaur National Monument is an International Dark Sky Park. Boasting magnificent dark skies, stargazers who visit during a moonless night can see up to 4,500 stars!
9. East Canyon State Park
Despite being 35 miles from Salt Lake City, East Canyon State Park stargazing opportunities are second to none. This newly-designated International Dark Sky Park offers pitch dark skies thanks to the surrounding mountains that provide a blockade for light pollution. The park also has daytime activities, like hiking the Mormon Pioneer Trail or kayaking in the mountain lake, which you can try while you wait for the starry night.
10. Fremont Indian State Park and Museum
Located in Fishlake National Forest, Fremont Indian State Park and Museum is a little gem of darkness. A certified International Dark Sky Park, the park hosts dark sky parties throughout the year with telescopes set up for night viewing. There are campgrounds, yurts, and teepees for stargazers who want to spend the night.
While you may go there to gaze at the stars, don’t miss seeing the petroglyphs and pictographs made by the pre-Columbian Fremont Indians between 700 and 1300 years ago.
11. Goblin Valley State Park
Another International Dark Sky Park, Goblin Valley State Park is one of the top Utah stargazing spots. Located along the San Rafael Reef, Goblin Valley is home to a fascinating landscape covered with sandstone “goblins” and other formations. But when the night sets in, park rangers focus on the gorgeous dark skies and host full moon hikes and telescope tours for stargazers. If you want to spend the night, you can stay in the park’s campground or yurts.
12. Goosenecks State Park
Located north of Mexican Hat, Goosenecks State Park is one of the best spots to go stargazing in Utah. In 2021, Goosenecks State Park was designated an International Dark Sky Park, and thanks to its little light pollution and remoteness, stargazing here is some of the best in Utah.
Besides dark skies, Goosenecks State Park offers astounding views during the day, with its naturally carved giant rock formations and wonderful scenery along hiking paths.
13. Hovenweep National Monument
The six villages built by the ancestral Puebloans aren’t the only thing that Hovenweep National Monument preserves. Located in Southeastern Utah, Hovenweep National Monument boasts unpolluted dark skies, just like the ones that Puebloans would gaze upon 1,000 years ago. This is another International Dark Sky Park, and as such, rangers host stargazing programs in spring and summer for visitors.
If you stargaze on your own, keep in mind it’s allowed only at the visitor center or campground.
14. Jordanelle State Park
Situated on the Eastside of the Wasatch, Jordanelle State Park is a great spot for stargazing in Utah. Thanks to the surrounding hillsides and mountains that provide a blockade for light pollution, this park is home to clear skies where the stars shine brightly. Jordanelle State Park is a popular spot among stargazers and has been host to different dark sky events, such as star parties, for over a decade.
15. Kodachrome Basin State Park
Kodachrome Basin State Park is another of Utah’s newest International Dark Sky Park. Given its geological remoteness, superb air quality, high elevation, low humidity, and distance from urban areas, the park boasts some of the darkest skies remaining in the continental US. The dark sky is so pristine that stargazers can appreciate the tiniest details of the Milky Way with their naked eye! Throughout the year, the park’s staff and volunteers offer many astronomy events.
16. Natural Bridges National Monument
This stargazing spot in Utah is a special one. Located 42 miles west of Blanding, Natural Bridges National Monument was the world’s first Dark Sky Park in 2007. Accordingly, park rangers give interpretive discussions on astronomy and rearrange the park’s light fixtures to reduce their own light pollution.
If you plan to stay the night, the best place to camp is the small no-frills campground at Natural Bridges.
17. North Fork Park
Located about 30 minutes from Ogden, near Liberty and Eden, North Fork Park is one of only two Dark Sky Parks in Northern Utah. Since it isn’t a national or state park, there aren’t many stargazing programs or park rangers talks throughout the year. The good news is that North Fork Park isn’t a very crowded place, so you’ll have plenty of space to witness the magical nights. In case you stay the night, camping is available at North Fork Park.
18. Rainbow Bridge National Monument
Rainbow Bridge National Monument isn’t a dark sky park. It is a dark sky sanctuary (the first in the national park service) due to its really dark skies. Getting to Rainbow Bridge National Monument, which is the tallest natural bridge in the world, wasn’t an easy task back in time. But now, visitors can access the monument by boat on Lake Powell or by backpacking. To spend the night, you can rent a houseboat or camp on the beach!
19. Rockport State Park
Sitting at 6,000 feet above sea level, Rockport State Park is in a rural valley between the Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges. This certified International Dark Sky Park is surrounded by mountains that create a protective halo that blocks out light pollution from the nearby communities, making it an ideal stargazing spot. The park staff hosts popular public programs on best dark sky practices and the importance of dark skies for the area’s nocturnal species.
20. Steinaker State Park
Known for being a fantastic summer getaway for families, Steinaker State Park is also one of the best spots for stargazing in Utah. Located in the scenic desert steppes that flow down from the snowy peaks of the high Uinta Mountains, Steinaker State Park was granted International dark sky park status in 2018. However, there aren’t many ranger-led stargazing programs for visitors. If you’re up for a fun day, boating, swimming, and hiking are other activities offered there.
21. Timpanogos Cave
Located in American Fork Canyon in Utah’s Wasatch Range, Timpanogos Cave National Monument is famous for its spectacularly decorated caverns of helictites, stalactites, and stalagmites. Now, it has become known for being the first national park service unit to be certified as an Urban Night Sky place. During summer nights, the park offers popular night sky programs in American Fork Canyon.
22. Zion National Park
Some of the most spectacular stargazing can be experienced from Zion National Park after the sunsets. Being far away from the light pollution of towns and cities, the park falls under a pitch dark sky of endless stars. And there’s even a good chance stargazers can see the Milky Way! To spend the night, here are three established campgrounds. Zion protects this dark sky resource for future generations by not lighting up the night. But this means that after sunset, the park is very dark! Be prepared!
23. Bonus: Great Basin National Park
The starry nights in Basin National Park are out of this world. Since 2016, Great Basin National Park has been designated an International Dark Sky Place. If you visit on a moonless night, you can see thousands of stars, numerous planets, star clusters, meteors, man-made satellites, the Andromeda Galaxy, and the Milky Way with the naked eye! While almost anywhere in the park offers great views of the night sky, Mather Overlook and the Baker Archaeological Site are two unbeatable spots.
Do you know other great places for stargazing in Utah, or have questions about these places? Let me know in the comments!