Here in Cedar City, we are fortunate to have wide-open spaces, incredible views, and endless recreation opportunities. One benefit that we don't mention often enough? The views are even better after dark!
With an International Dark Sky Park in our own backyard (Cedar Breaks National Monument) locals and visitors alike can enjoy guided Star Parties and more during the warmer months. But did you know you don't have to travel to 10,000 feet for incredible night sky views? While an evening stargazing at the rim of Cedar Breaks' natural red rock amphitheater is definitely a bucket list experience, you can stargaze easily from places much closer to home.
And while this time of year our high elevation spots are still covered in snow, places like Three Peaks Recreation Area, Kolob Canyons, and others are the perfect place to stargaze.
Where Should You Go?
Look for a place that lacks a lot of artificial light, like a city park or open field. To help navigate at night without compromising your night vision, make a red flashlight. Use red paper or cellophane to cover a white flashlight. With lots of wide-open spaces around us, there are some incredible stargazing spots that require minimal travel!
SAVE FOR LATER:
Cedar Breaks National Monument: While it's not accessible for a Dark Sky Week visit in April, that doesn't mean that Cedar Breaks is a spot to miss. Bookmark it for a later visit and be sure to include a night visit to take on these gorgeous views.
Our suggestion? Reserve a spot at the Point Supreme Campground during the month of July for the annual Wildflower Festival and enjoy the blooms during the day and join a Star Party to see the stars at night.
Three Peaks Recreation Area: The rolling hills and volcanic rock formations provide a fantastic location for outdoor recreation | 10 miles west of Cedar City via Midvalley Road
Iron Springs Resort: Located only a couple of miles west of downtown Cedar City, Iron Springs is just far enough away to feel like you're in the middle of the desert, but with all the perks of still being close to town | 10 miles west of Cedar City via Hwy 56
Parowan Gap Petroglyphs: Wind, water, and sand carved out this natural passageway. The Gap is one of the most concentrated collections of petroglyphs in the West. Just far enough away from the lights of Cedar City and Parowan, the night sky views are incredible too | 13 miles north of Cedar City via Hwy 130
Kolob Canyons: The northern and lesser-known side of Zion National Park, the views in Kolob Canyons are no less spectacular. And that includes the night sky views! | 20 miles south of Cedar City on I-15
You can also consider visiting: Thunderbird Gardens, Stargazing from the "C Trail", and any public lands that are far enough away from city lights. Dark skies are easy to find in our part of southern Utah!
What Should You Look For?
What Information Do You Need?
When you find your perfect stargazing spot find the Big Dipper. The last two stars in the cup of the Big Dipper point to the North Star, which is just a bit dimmer than the individual stars in the Big Dipper. For help finding the constellations listed above, and others, there are resources available.
Download an App
Stargazing apps like SkyView©, NightSky©, or Pocket Universe© are helpful in navigating the night skies.
Check out the video below to see the SkyView© app in action ↓