International Dark Sky Destinations in Capitol Reef Country Utah
Utah has more International Dark Sky destinations than anywhere else on earth. There are several International Dark Sky parks and towns in Capitol Reef Country including Capitol Reef National Park, Goblin Valley State Park and the town of Torrey, Utah. Torrey is one of two International Dark Sky communities in Utah, the other being Helper.
Torrey Located just eight miles from Capitol Reef National Park, Torrey is known for its tree lined main street and surrounding cliffs and meadows. It is also one of two International Dark Sky communities in Utah. The residents of Torrey have improved their outdoor lighting laws in order to achieve their dark-sky dreams. They have collaborated with a non-profit organization to reach out, campaign and educate people. This has massively reduced the light pollution and artificial light no longer affects the sky quality over Capitol Reef.
Capitol Reef National Park The International Dark Sky Association recognized Capitol Reef National Park as a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park in 2015.
Capitol Reef National Park, just eight miles from Torrey, is the perfect place to stargaze. Enjoy the Milky Way in all its glory, impress your friends by pointing out the big dipper, relax under the illuminating light of the full moon. Whatever type of stargazer you are, you’ll find something enjoyable here.
The park is over 200,000 acres and has several campgrounds open to the public. All of which are surrounded by public land, allowing for additional camping with few restrictions. The staff and volunteers collect Sky Quality Meter data from twelve points throughout the park, these include:
- Cathedral Valley Campground
- Burr Trail
- Panorama Point
- Capitol Reef Field Station
- Slickrock Drive
- End Of Scenic Drive
- Halls Creek Overloo
A land like no other, Capitol Reef National Park is often referred to as ‘Utah’s hidden gem’. It’s the perfect place to experience the night sky in all its glory.
Goblin Valley State Park The International Dark Sky Association recognized Goblin Valley State Park as a gold-tier International Dark Sky Park in 2016.
Another beautiful spot to admire the night sky is Goblin Valley State Park. Stumbled upon by cowboys in the early 1900’s, Goblin valley was officially discovered by Arthur Chaffin in the 1920s. Chaffin often referred to the park as Mushroom Valley, due to the formation of its rocks.
Attracting fewer visitors than its high-profile neighbours, Goblin Valley is a hidden gem, offering its visitors unparalleled views of the night sky. In 2015, the National Park Service’s Night Sky Team determined that Goblin Valley had one of the darkest night skies on earth, with zero light pollution.
The park features several campsites to suit all guests, offering standard tents, RV hook-ups, group sites and yurts.
There are several hiking trails throughout the park. From easiest to most strenuous, these include:
- Curtis Bench
- The Three Sisters
- Carmel Canyon
- Entrada Canyon
- The Goblin’s Lair
Each month Goblin Valley’s rangers lead events such as moonlit hikes and telescope tours, allowing visitors to admire the stunning nighttime views of Goblin Valley.