camera icon JACOB W. FRANK/NPS

Summer 2015

Starry, Starry Nights

By Rona Marech
Summer 2015: Starry, Starry Nights

Capitol Reef joins an elite group of dark-sky parks.

Even on the new moon—the darkest night of the month—you can walk around Capitol Reef National Park and clearly make out rocks or branches or leaves, because millions of stars light up every corner of the park. Located in a high, dry, and remote part of south-central Utah (“the middle of nowhere and very proud of it,” says park ranger Lori Rome), it’s a perfect spot for stargazing.

Blog Post

10 Spectacular Parks for Stargazing

National parks offer some of the darkest skies in the country.

See more ›

And now it’s official: In April, the International Dark-Sky Association named Capitol Reef a dark-sky park, making it one of seven Park Service sites and 22 parks worldwide with the designation. To join the exclusive society, staff spent years expanding astronomy programs, monitoring skies, measuring light pollution, installing low-lumen light bulbs, and covering lights to minimize the glare they send into space. The public seems to be catching on; a growing number of visitors have been asking for star charts, showing up for guided moonwalks, and attending the annual star festival.

“In the last ten years or so, more and more people have been recognizing that nature is one whole package. It’s what is all around us—under our feet and up in the skies,” Rome says. Also, stargazing is so simple: “Just lie back on the grass and look at the sky, and you see so many things that so much of the world doesn’t have access to anymore.”

About the author

This article appeared in the Summer 2015 issue

National Parks, our award-winning quarterly magazine, is an exclusive benefit of membership in the National Parks Conservation Association.

More from this issue

The Price of a Feather

Read more from NPCA