When you think of Bryce Canyon National Park, the otherworldly hoodoos may be the first thing that comes to mind, but there is another unique scenery there – the night sky. The night sky at Bryce is so exceptionally dark that you can see as many as 7500 stars on a moonless night! From most rural areas only 2500 stars can be seen, and two-thirds of us cannot see the Milky Way from our backyards. Visitors are surprised and delighted to view the splendor of the cosmos here.
National parks realize the need to preserve the black, untainted night sky for future generations of stargazers, and are working to minimize light pollution. A dark sky overhead is a vanishing treasure; and even though intangible it is just as precious as the scenery that we strive to protect. Bryce Canyon National Park began stargazing programs in 1969, and is a leader in night sky protection and appreciation. Astronomy presentations are regularly scheduled throughout the year, followed by stargazing (see https://www.nps.gov/brca/planyourvisit/astronomyprograms.htm for more information). “Dark Rangers” share the night skies with up to 300 visitors each night, educating and inspiring thousands of people with a goal of conserving one of the last great sanctuaries of darkness.
Bryce’s Annual Astronomy Festival began in 2001. The Salt Lake Astronomical Society provides additional telescopes, and numerous volunteers help to make this a premier event. Natural Bridges National Monument, also located in southeastern Utah, was named the world’s first international dark-sky park and is another great place to view spectacular night skies. If you are an astronomy buff and would like to plan a family RV vacation that includes wondrous night skies, call Tracks & Trails (800-247-0970) to assist you. Don’t forget to check out the hoodoos while you’re there!