Thing to Do


White lines representing circular star trails in dark blue sky, above colorful red cliffs.
Star trails above the Castle, near the Capitol Reef visitor center.

NPS Artist-in-Residence Phil Sisto

Discover Capitol Reef National Park's dark night skies. Designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2015, Capitol Reef offers many opportunities to experience near-pristine night skies.The night sky is everyone's heritage; however, natural darkness is becoming rare. Capitol Reef National Park has some of the best night sky viewing opportunities of the western national parks. For more information, visit the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service.

Learn more about Capitol Reef's dark night skiesCheck the calendar for information about the Annual Heritage Starfest (usually in September).

Check the clear sky forecast to determine the darkest time of night for the best stargazing. 

Where should you stargaze in Capitol Reef? 

Fruita Area

  • Panorama Point (on State Route 24, 2 miles west of the visitor center)
  • Danish Hill (on the Scenic Drive)
  • Slickrock Divide (on the Scenic Drive)
  • Fruita Campground Amphitheater Parking Lot
  • And many other locations with an open view to the night sky

South (Waterpocket) District

North (Cathedral) District

Stargazing Safety

  • Visit your chosen location during the day to scout out possible safety hazards, like uneven ground and drop-offs.
  • Completely pull off the road and park your vehicle in a designated parking space.
  • Wear reflective and brightly colored clothes so motorists and other people can see you.
  • Use a red flashlight to help preserve your night vision.
  • Bring a few extra light sources (cell phones do not count as a light source).
  • Bring a friend along.
  • Remember to follow all the rules and regulations, such as only camping in a designated campground or getting a permit before backpacking. Light painting is not permitted in photography.
  • Never take photos in the middle of the road.
  • Dress for the weather. It’s colder at night. Check the forecast


Want to do more than just stargaze?

Learn about photographing the night sky and how to safely take a night hike. Explore the night sky with NASA's Skywatching Tips. Discover what's happening in the night sky where you live with NASA's Night Sky Planner. 

Pets are allowed on roads and in orchards, picnic areas, parking lots, and maintained campgrounds. Learn more about visiting Capitol Reef with your pet. 
The only fee area is along the Scenic Drive. Learn more about Capitol Reef's fees and passes. 
Check the forecast and dress for the weather. 
Time of Day
Night, Dawn, Dusk
Accessibility Information
Many parking areas are accessible for stargazing. Other locations could require walking over uneven surfaces. 

Capitol Reef National Park

Learn More about the Night Sky

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    Last updated: July 20, 2021