Are you an avid stargazer looking for the best stargazing in Utah? Or maybe you’re planning a trip to Zion National Park and wondered, “Is Zion a Dark Sky Park?”
You’ll be happy to know Zion is a designated Dark Sky Park. It is one of more than 20 Dark Sky Parks in Utah! Zion National Park received its designation in 2021. The Park offers you many opportunities to explore the night sky. You can also learn about your role in reducing light pollution back home.
In this article, you get
Information on what makes Zion such a great destination for us stargazers
The requirements Zion had to meet to become a certified International Dark Sky Park in 2021
Activities you can join to explore the night sky in Zion
Zion’s Dark Sky Education Programs
By the end of this article, you’ll have all the information you need to plan an amazing stargazing trip to Zion National Park and more.
Let’s dive right in.
IS ZION A DARK SKY PARK?
In 2021, the International Dark Sky Association and the National Park Service certified Zion National Park as an International Dark Sky Park.
This certification is a testament to Zion’s commitment to preserving and protecting its dark night skies.
The certification includes several criteria, such as lighting requirements, public education programs, and dark sky accommodations.
Zion’s commitment to preserving its dark skies has earned it this prestigious designation. This commitment makes it one of the few places in the world where you can experience the beauty of a truly dark night sky.
Whether an avid stargazer or a casual observer, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the night sky in Zion National Park.
THE NIGHT SKY IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
You can take advantage of the Park’s remote location and minimal light pollution. Here you can get a glimpse of the Milky Way over Zion and other constellations and star clusters.
Zion National Park offers several stargazing activities if you’re looking for an even more immersive experience.
DARK SKY PARK CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS
What does it take to become an International Dark Sky Park?
The requirements include the following:
- reducing light pollution
- implementing good outdoor lighting practices
- providing educational programming related to dark sky conservation
The Park must also have a captivating nighttime environment. They must offer you a meaningful experience while protecting the natural night sky.
LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS FOR DARK SKY PARKS
To qualify as a dark sky park, Zion changed its outdoor lighting to use shielded fixtures that direct light downwards and away from the night sky.
The Park must keep light pollution to a minimum. All public areas must be free of light trespass and glare. All these requirements significantly improve the quality of the dark night sky.
WHAT IS ZION NATIONAL PARK?
Zion National Park is a protected area in southwestern Utah. It is known for its natural beauty, including soaring cliffs, deep canyons, and rivers running through the Park.
Zion is an excellent destination for you if you’re a nature lover like me.
Zion National Park preserves its resources, including the night sky. To that end, the park staff has undertaken several lighting projects to reduce light pollution and protect the Park’s natural resources.
As a result, the Park boasts an incredible night sky.
Perfect for us stargazers!
Zion has very light pollution or artificial light sources. It is an ideal location to take in the breathtaking beauty of the cosmos, including constellations. To find the Big Dipper, read my article Where is the Big Dipper in the Utah Sky?
HISTORY OF ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park is the oldest national Park in Utah.
It received its designation in 1919.
The Park is home to incredible canyons, sandstone cliffs, and some of the most breathtaking night skies in the world. The Park has a rich history. It was inhabited by Native Americans for thousands of years before it became a National Park.
Zion National Park is a popular destination for those looking to explore its majestic canyons and experience the beauty of its starry night skies.
Take a step back in time and explore the history of Zion National Park. Appreciate the beauty of this ancient land, from its geological wonders to its spiritual significance.
STARGAZING ACTIVITIES IN ZION NATIONAL PARK
You don’t have to be a professional astrophotographer to appreciate the night sky in Zion National Park!
There are plenty of stargazing activities available that you can enjoy. These activities include guided astronomy tours and simply taking in the view of the stars with your own eyes.
The Park offers you many educational programs and guided tours. They provide a wealth of knowledge about the night sky and its fascinating features.
DARK SKY ACCOMMODATIONS
You’ll find plenty of options regarding dark-sky accommodations in Zion. From camping to the lodge, the Park has something for everyone.
The lodge within the Park has made special efforts to provide dark sky-friendly lighting features. These features enable you to experience the night sky in all its glory without interrupting its beauty.
WHAT MAKES ZION NATIONAL PARK EXEMPLARY?
Zion National Park is exemplary in many ways.
It was the first of Utah’s “Mighty Five” national parks to receive International Dark Sky certification. Zion’s night sky is now protected for future generations to enjoy.
The Park is home to incredible geological features, such as the Zion Narrows, the highest sandstone walls on the continent, and stunning canyons and mesas that offer spectacular night sky views.
You can also enjoy various stargazing activities in Zion, from astronomy classes and star parties to educational programs about dark sky certification.
HOW TO ENJOY STARGAZING IN ZION NATIONAL PARK?
Pack a pair of binoculars. Bring a red-filtered flashlight to preserve your night vision when you move around.
Research the constellations and the best times for viewing. You can even join a ranger-led stargazing tour!
Canyons provide natural protection from light pollution, and Zion’s elevation allows a clearer view of the stars. The deep and narrow canyons offer a unique experience with their towering cliffs and sweeping expanses of bare sandstone rock.
THE INCREDIBLE GEOLOGICAL FEATURES OF ZION NATIONAL PARK
Discover the incredible geological features of Zion National Park!
The area formed over 250 million years ago when a low body of water covered it.
Today, it is famous for its astonishing landscapes and unique formations. The hoodoos are red rock pillars or spires of limestone that stand tall around the Park.
Zion National Park sits along the edge of a region known as the Colorado Plateau with uplifted rock layers. Take the time to explore this magical place and discover its natural beauty.
DARK SKY EDUCATION PROGRAMS AT ZION NATIONAL PARK
Zion National Park offers a variety of dark sky education programs. You can learn about light pollution and how to protect the night sky. See the Utah Dark Sky Map to learn more about light pollution.
During the day, you can join ranger-led programs to learn how the Park is protecting its night sky resources.
At night, you can attend ranger-led stargazing programs to explore the night sky and learn how to appreciate its beauty.
The Park also offers informational materials and activities to help you understand the importance of reducing light pollution in your home and community.
For those of us who want to take part in a more immersive experience, the Park offers a Dark Sky Festival each summer. During the Dark Sky Festival, we can experience the night sky with expert naturalists.
Thank you for reading my article, “Is Zion a Dark Sky Park?”
Zion received its designation as an International Dark Sky Park in 2021. The Park offers you many Dark Sky Educational Programs to learn the importance of protecting the night sky.
There are several Dark Sky Accommodations in the Park, including three campgrounds and a lodge.
To continue your journey, read my article “Is Bryce Canyon Good for Stargazing?“