a guide to stargazing at our capitol reef resort

A Guide to Stargazing at Our Capitol Reef Resort

by | Sep 7, 2023

The fun at Chuckwagon Lodge doesn’t end when the sun goes down. In fact, if you have a stargazing enthusiast or amateur stargazer in your family or travel group, it might just be the beginning.

Capitol Reef National Park has been an International Dark Sky Park since 2015. But the park wasn’t alone in earning that honor. When Capitol Reef earned that title, the adjacent community of Torrey became the first U.S. national park gateway community to become an International Dark Sky Community.

If you’re planning a visit to Chuckwagon Lodge and want to do some stargazing, keep reading. We’re breaking down what the International Dark Sky Park and Community designations mean, and how to do some stargazing during your stay in our Capitol Reef resort.

Becoming an International Dark Sky Park and Community

Light pollution is a serious issue in cities around the world. The light from buildings, street lights, and other sources not only makes it impossible to see the stars in the night sky, but can also have a big impact on local wildlife. Artificial light can harm the sleep and wake cycles of nocturnal creatures. It can affect their ability to track prey, and otherwise affect their survival rate. Plant life has been proven to suffer as well. In one study, trees were shown to adjust to seasonal variations faster than they should have as a result of exposure to artificial light. 

This isn’t just an issue in cities, either. Light pollution can be caused by just a small number of lights, like those you might find in a national park.

The International Dark Sky Association is an organization that was formed in 1988 with the goal of protecting the world’s night skies for future generations. They work with governments, park officials, city leaders, and more to advocate for measures to protect our night skies and keep them dark. They also educate the public on the importance of these measures and how they can do their part to chip in.

In order to earn its spot on the list of International Dark Sky Parks, officials at Capitol Reef National Park have taken measures to reduce light pollution. This includes getting rid of unnecessary artificial light during the nighttime hours. Lights that do need to be left on have been switched to special light bulbs and enclosures that help direct the shine downward, instead of toward the sky. Similar measures have been taken in Torrey, Utah to reduce light pollution throughout the town.

Stargazing During Your Stay in Our Capitol Reef Resort

The measures taken by both the national park and the town of Torrey, Utah mean that guests of our Capitol Reef resort get to enjoy some pretty incredible stargazing during their stay. Unless you live in a remote area away from any major cities, your view right from Chuckwagon Inn will likely rival those that you enjoy at home. But venturing into the national park will provide the best view of the night sky on a clear night.

The National Park recommends a few places in particular if you want to do some stargazing. These include Panorama Point and Danish Hill in the Fruita area, Cedar Mesa Primitive campground in the Waterpocket DIstrict, and Cathedral Valley Primitive Campground in the Cathedral District, to name a few.

The national park occasionally hosts stargazing programs that you can join. If a program isn’t occurring during your stay in our Capitol Reef resort but you want a little extra help getting a great view of the night sky, you can book a stargazing tour from a local company as well. Sleeping Rainbow Adventures offers a Capitol Reef National Park Stargazing Tour that lasts one to two hours, and includes a viewing with a telescope.

There are also a variety of smartphone apps that you can use to identify the constellations, planets, and more that you’re viewing in the night sky.

Practicing Safe Stargazing

If you’re planning to venture into the national park at night during your Chuckwagon Inn stay, there are a few safety tips you should know. First, consider visiting your chosen stargazing spot during daylight hours first. That way you can spot any potential hazards that might be harder to see come nightfall. When you park, make sure to park in a designated parking space. Check that your vehicle is completely out of the road. Wear reflective and brightly colored clothing so that other passing motorists will be better able to see you.

Never go stargazing alone. Instead, bring a friend, and let someone back home know your plans. You can use a red light flashlight to preserve your night vision while still allowing you to get to your stargazing spot safely. But, you should always bring a backup light source such as a cellphone or regular flashlight, just in case.

Planning a Fall Visit to Our Capitol Reef Resort

Stargazing is just one of the many activities that you can enjoy during your stay at Chuckwagon Lodge. Our Capitol Reef resort is also the perfect basecamp for enjoying other activities like hiking or fruit picking during your stay.

Ready to experience an International Dark Sky Park? Book your stay at Chuckwagon Lodge today!

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