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  1. Clear Air and Magnificent Skies (Utah) - A short video featuring the dark night skies and scenic views of southern Utah.

See the Milky Way!

Can you see the Milky Way from your home? Most Americans can't. But in the parks of southern Utah, people can get spectacular views of the night sky. Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef national parks and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments are located far from the bright lights of large urban areas, which gives visitors excellent opportunities to see stars, constellations, galaxies, and other night sky phenomena they might never see at home.

Because of these pristine night skies three parks in southern Utah have been designated International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark Sky Association. These parks are dedicated to preserving dark night skies and helping people appreciate what they can see with natural darkness.

Arches National Park

A silhouette of a photographer under an arch with the Milky Way overhead
Photographers at the North Window

NPS Photo by Jacob W. Frank

Arches
https://www.nps.gov/arch

The park is open 24 hours a day. Many viewpoints provide unobstructed views of the night sky. The farther north into the park you drive, the better your night sky viewing will be, because you will be farther from the lights of Moab.

Read more about dark skies at Arches.

Take a look at the park Calendar for programs and activities.

Canyonlands National Park

Stargazers and their telescopes illuminated in red with the Milky Way overhead
A stargazing program at Grand View Point

NPS photo by Chris Wonderly

Canyonlands
https://www.nps.gov/cany

Canyonlands National Park is open 24 hours a day. Many overlooks offer clear, unobstructed views of the night sky.

Canyonlands rangers sometimes partner with staff at Dead Horse Point State Park to offer star parties and other night sky programs. Check the Stargazing page or the Calendar for special programs and events.

Canyonlands was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2015

Read more about the night sky at Canyonlands.

Capitol Reef National Park

The Milky Way arcing over Chimney Rock at Capitol Reef
The Milky Way arcs high above Chimney Rock at Capitol Reef National Park

NPS Photo by Jacob W. Frank

Capitol Reef
https://www.nps.gov/care

The park is open 24 hours a day, year round.

Capitol Reef National Park was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2015. 

Hovenweep National Monument

Hovenweep Castle with the Milky Way overhead
Hovenweep Castle with the Milky Way overhead.

NPS Photo by Jacob W. Frank

Hovenweep
https://www.nps.gov/hove

Hovenweep trails are open sunrise to sunset daily. Stargazing is easiest from the visitor center parking lot and campground, although no ruins or ancient structures are visible from there. To photograph any of the structures at night, you must obtain a permit. (Fee applies.)

Hovenweep was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2014. 

Read more about the night sky at Hovenweep. The park hosts occasional night sky events. Check the Calendar for details.

Natural Bridges National Monument

The Milky Way over Owachomo Bridge
The Milky Way over Owachomo Bridge

NPS Photo by Jacob W. Frank

Natural Bridges
https://www.nps.gov/nabr

Bridge View Drive is open 24 hours a day, and many overlooks provide excellent views of the night sky.

Natural Bridges National Monument was designated the world's first International Dark Sky Park in 2007.

Read more about the night sky at Natural Bridges. Check the Calendar for activities and events.

Last updated: April 7, 2016