Is Bryce Canyon Good for Stargazing? 2024 Easy Guide

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

By Chris Klein

Updated:

Are you interested in Bryce Canyon and looking for the best stargazing in Utah? And wondering, “Is Bryce Canyon Good for Stargazing?”

The short answer is yes! Bryce Canyon is excellent for stargazing. With its pristine night skies and incredible natural beauty, Bryce Canyon is one of the best places in the world for stargazing. However, you should know a few tips to get the best experience. For example, taking a guided night sky tour with a park ranger will enhance your viewing pleasure.

In this article, you get

A close look at why Bryce Canyon is an ideal spot for stargazing

What you can expect when visiting Bryce Canyon

Tips and tricks for getting the best stargazing experience

An understanding of Bryce Canyon’s Gold Tier Dark Sky Park certification

A list of great places to stargaze in Bryce Canyon National Park

By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to plan a perfect stargazing trip to Bryce Canyon.

Let’s dive right in.

WHY IS BRYCE CANYON GOOD FOR STARGAZING?

Bryce Canyon Rim and Night Sky photo credit Eric Kilby Flickr
Bryce Canyon Rim and Night Sky photo credit Eric Kilby, Flickr

Bryce Canyon is one of the best places to experience the night sky. The park is officially designated a Dark Sky Park. It earned this certification thanks due to its excellent stargazing conditions.

The park has minimal light pollution and a clear night sky. You can reference a Utah Dark Sky Map to see how dark it is at Bryce Canyon.

The lack of light pollution means you can see thousands of stars on a moonless night. These dark skies make Bryce Canyon one of the best National Parks for stargazing.

The park also offers special programs, after-dark stargazing opportunities, and more.

FREE STARGAZING CHECKLIST

My 5-page Stargazing Checklist will enhance your astronomical observations.

Follow this free checklist to navigate the night sky with confidence, clarity, and a sense of preparedness for a rewarding stargazing experience.

Free Stargazing Checklist

Are you ready to explore the night sky with Bryce Canyon’s Dark Sky Program?

DARK SKIES OF BRYCE CANYON

Bryce Canyon Dark Sky Park Stargazing
Bryce Canyon Dark Sky Park Stargazing

The night skies of Bryce Canyon are some of the darkest in the USA.

This is due to its remote location, lack of light pollution, and strict dark-sky regulations. You can easily see the Milky Way stretch from horizon to horizon.

A dream destination for us stargazers!

Bryce Canyon holds an annual Astronomy Festival each summer to put the night skies on display. During the festival, you can participate in many unique activities.

DARK SKY CERTIFICATION AT BRYCE CANYON

In 2019, the National Park Service and the International Dark-Sky Association certified Bryce Canyon National Park as an International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the park’s night skies.

Through outdoor lighting upgrades, the certification promotes public education, energy efficiency, and reduced operational costs.

It is one of over 100 global locations that have followed a rigorous application process and demonstrated robust community support for dark sky certification.

Bryce Canyon National Park offers a variety of programs. These programs help you get the most out of your stargazing experience.

They include night sky tours with a park ranger, star parties, and more.

WHAT IS DARK SKY CERTIFICATION?

Dark Sky Certification is a program offered by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) that recognizes areas with an exceptional quality of night sky darkness.

The process for certification involves submitting an application that demonstrates that the site meets the criteria for one of five categories:

  • International Dark Sky Parks
  • Communities
  • Reserves
  • Sanctuaries
  • Urban Night Sky Places

Bryce Canyon National Park received more than just certification. It is a Gold Tier Dark Sky Park, meaning that its night skies are some of the best in the world for stargazing.

WHAT KIND OF STARS CAN YOU SEE IN BRYCE CANYON?

Bryce Canyon National Park photo courtesy of Stephen Bartholomew
Bryce Canyon National Park photo courtesy of Stephen Bartholomew

At Bryce Canyon, you’ll have the opportunity to see amazing stars, planets, and galaxies that you might not be able to see anywhere else. For example, read my article, Where is the Big Dipper in the Utah Sky?

You’ll see many celestial wonders, like Sirius, the brightest star, and Orion’s Belt. With a telescope, you can also experience the beauty of nebulae and star clusters.

The park’s high elevation and dark skies make it an ideal spot for stargazing, with or without special equipment.

STARGAZING PROGRAMS AT BRYCE CANYON

Bryce Canyon National Park photo credit Ken Cheung
Bryce Canyon stargazing 2023

When it comes to stargazing in Bryce Canyon, you’re in luck! The park offers several ranger programs that take advantage of the nighttime scenery.

Half a century ago, Bryce Canyon became one of the first national parks to offer astronomy programs.

Today, the park provides around 100 astronomical events and star parties each year, so you can always find an exciting program.

During the summer, you can join a ranger for an evening night sky tour with a telescope and binocular viewing.

DARK SKY PROGRAMS AT BRYCE CANYON

The National Park Service has created a Dark Sky Program that offers special events and activities related to stargazing and astronomy. These programs will help you get the most out of your stargazing experience in Bryce Canyon.

NIGHT SKY TOURS WITH A PARK RANGER

Why not join a night sky tour with a park ranger at Bryce Canyon National Park?

You’ll get to explore the night sky with an expert guide who can point out constellations and other celestial wonders.

During the tour, you’ll learn about the Big Dipper and different constellations, as well as the history of the night sky in this area. Plus, you’ll get to use professional telescopes to examine the stars closely.

Join a night sky tour at Bryce Canyon and prepare for a celestial adventure!

STAR PARTIES AT BRYCE CANYON

Photo credit Philip Graves
Photo credit Philip Graves

If you’re looking for an even more immersive stargazing experience, you should check out one of the star parties held in Bryce Canyon.

During these events, park rangers and local astronomers set up telescopes and give presentations about astronomy. These star parties allow you to ask questions and better understand what you see in the sky.

These star parties typically occur during the week of the new moon or the week before the new moon, when the night sky is at its darkest. You can join the Astronomy Rangers during these special events for educational and entertaining celebrations of natural darkness.

You may also have the opportunity to join Salt Lake Astronomical Society (SLAS) members and look through their personally owned telescopes. For more information on star parties at Bryce Canyon, visit their Ranger Programs page.

TIPS FOR STARGAZING IN BRYCE CANYON

The best time to stargaze in Bryce Canyon is during the week of the new moon or the week before the new moon when the sky is at its darkest.

For a fantastic astronomy experience, join one of Bryce Canyon’s Astronomy Rangers for one of their educational and entertaining celebrations of natural darkness.

You can also join the Annual Astronomy Festival for special daytime and evening programs, after-dark stargazing opportunities, and more.

For a unique adventure, sign up for a Full Moon Hike and explore the night with one of Bryce Canyon’s Astronomy Rangers.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT SPOT

Choosing the right spot to stargaze in Bryce Canyon is critical to getting the most out of your experience. The best sites are typically high up, away from trees and other obstacles that may block your view of the night sky.

Great locations for stargazing in Bryce Canyon include the following:

  • Natural Bridge Overlook
  • Inspiration Point
  • Sunset Point
  • Sunrise Point
  • Farview Point
  • Mossy Cave Trail

Natural Bridge Overlook offers a different view than most other overlooks, featuring stars over and under the natural bridge.

Inspiration Point, Sunset Point, and Sunrise Point are all great views over the Bryce Amphitheater, with wide-open skies.

Farview Point offers vistas of Arizona in the far distance and is less busy than the Bryce Amphitheater area.

Mossy Cave Trail allows you to escape the crowds because it’s off the main scenic road. It also features a waterfall offering a different foreground for stargazing.

SUMMARY

Thank you for reading my article “Is Bryce Canyon Good for Stargazing?”

With its Gold Tier Dark Sky Park certification, Bryce Canyon is a fantastic location for stargazing. The park offers many educational programs, including Ranger-led hikes to explore the night sky.

Bryce Canyon National Park is one of the best places for stargazing in Utah.

For stargazing at other National Parks in Utah, read my article Can you see the Milky Way at Zion?

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About the Author

Chris Klein, Amateur Astronomy Advisor

Chris Klein is an amateur astronomy advisor, astrophotographer, and entrepreneur. Go here to read his incredible story "From $50,000 in Debt to Award-Winning Photographer Living in Switzerland". If you want to send Chris a quick message, then visit his contact page here.

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