From ancient beings using the sky as a guide to inspiring myths and legends, the stars have been a tool for centuries. Sadly, the increase in artificial light has decreased the visibility of the night sky. This is called light pollution. While staying at Zion Canyon Cabins, you will experience the night sky like never before. Check out our favorite spots to view the stunning night sky and how you can help the light pollution in your community.
The Magic of Dark Skies
Night skies also need protection as the world has become more incorporated and natural landscapes become sparse. Zion National Park is committed to protecting the night sky when in 2021, it became a certified “Dark Sky Park.” This special certification makes the park a hot spot for stargazing. In an effort to preserve the night sky in the park, many fixtures have been switched to downward-facing ones with a “warm light” to prevent light from shining into the sky. The lights are also better for the wildlife in the area. Because Zion Canyon Campground is located in Zion Canyon, the night sky shines brighter than ever.
Astronomy in Zion National Park
For astronomy enthusiasts and curious visitors, Zion offers a variety of activities centered around the night sky. There are many opportunities to experience the night sky from a Guided Tour or even just a short hike on one of the many hiking trails in the park. If you’re serious about spotting something in the night sky, try to find the Orion, Taurus, Canis Major, Canis Minor, and Gemini constellations. The milky way is also especially visible in the park.
Best Times to Stargaze
To witness the night skies to their fullest, timing is everything. While stargazing is possible throughout the year, certain seasons offer more optimal conditions. Specifically, late spring and early fall provide clearer skies and a more mild temperature. Additionally, some months may align with celestial events such as meteor showers or eclipses, making your stargazing experience even more exciting. Certain constellations, like the Orion, are more visible in January, but you’ll have to bundle up. Even if the temperatures are mild during the day, nights are still chilly in the desert in the winter months.
Equipment and Preparation
Consider bringing a set of binoculars or a telescope to observe distant galaxies and star clusters up close. Dress in layers to stay comfortable as the temperatures drop during the night. Don’t forget a flashlight, a star map, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Be sure to be courteous of others that might be enjoying the night sky.
Ideal Stargazing Spots
Within Zion National Park, numerous spots offer ideal viewing opportunities. Head to the Museum patio for great sunset views and a wide view of the sky for observing the stars. (Local tip: This is also an incredible spot for sunrise!) Pa’rus Trail is also a great, safe place to check out views from this easy, paved path. Other trails are not recommended for night hikes due to the terrain and the wildlife in the area (like snakes or mountain lions.) You can check out some other stargazing spots here. If you’re staying with us, our convenience store is a great spot to check out the view while grabbing a late-night snack.
Safety and Etiquette
Safety should always be a priority during nighttime adventures. While exploring the night skies, be cautious of uneven terrain and potential wildlife encounters. Preserve the park by staying on the trail and sticking to the “Leave No Trace” rule. Also, avoid using bright lights that can disturb nocturnal animals and fellow explorers, and keep your light pointed toward the ground to preserve the night sky.
Zion National Park’s beauty doesn’t end with the setting sun; it continues to leave you stunned as the stars emerge after a long day. Discovering the night skies in Zion National Park offers a unique experience for everyone. Whether you’re an astronomy enthusiast or a nature lover, the night skies of Zion will leave you in awe. Stay at Zion Canyon Campground to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Zion National Park and its incredible night skies. Visit our website to book your stay today!