Monday, June 15, 2020

9 Best Stargazing Spots Near Provo, Utah

9 Best Stargazing Spots near Provo, Utah
When it comes to stargazing, you don’t have to stray too far from Provo to get a great view. Utah prides itself on working to preserve its dark skies, believing that you should easily be able to find a spot where you can see the Milky Way. There are many opportunities for all types of stargazers near Provo. From planetarium shows to quiet outlooks, you won’t be disappointed.

Trees beneath night sky
Brigham Young University 
Located in Provo, Brigham Young University offers fantastic opportunities for stargazers, astronomy enthusiasts, and people of all ages. The BYU Astronomical Society offers a wide range of activities for anyone who wants to get a great view of the night sky and learn about what they are seeing in the process. 

Some events and activities hosted by the Society include weekly planetarium shows and monthly star parties. While the shows are conducted at the University, star parties are great if you want to be guided through the night sky in an outdoor location. While the planetarium shows are generally followed by use of the observation deck, nothing beats the darkness of a more rural location. 

Man standing beneath starry sky
Lookout Peak Trail
Sitting at around 9000 feet and boasting an incredible view, Lookout Peak might make you forget the 45-minute drive from Provo. While during the daytime it’s claim to fame is it’s 8 mile hike, at night the panoramic views become dotted with a brilliant amount of stars.

Many hikers mention the solitude of the trail, and it does not seem to be a very trafficked area. Keep this spot in mind if you need to do some deep thinking during your stargazing, but if you would prefer to check out the night sky in an area with more people around, it might not be for you.

Tree silhouettes beneath the stars
Steep Mountain Park
30 minutes outside of Provo is Steep Mountain Park, located on South Mountain. Not too far from civilization, this spot delicately balances rural darkness and accessibility.

This public park has clean-cut grass and amenities such as a playground and sports fields, as well as a paved path. It is an ideal spot for seeing the night sky while potentially avoiding nocturnal wildlife or uneven terrain. Parking is on the street, so you don’t have to worry about being locked in and can view the starry sky in peace for hours. 

Harmon’s Grocery – Bangerter Crossing 
Not everyone wants to drive out of town or to unpopulated areas to see the stars, and luckily you don’t have to. It may seem like there would be too much light pollution near a grocery store, but the Salt Lake Astronomical Society has been known to meet in Harmon’s parking lots–and you can probably trust that they know what they’re doing.

If the Harmon’s at Bangerter Crossing isn’t working out, you can always try another location, such as South Jordan or Brickyard. You have many options for a city location that still offers a fantastic night sky experience. Bangerter Crossing is just 30 minutes from Provo. 

Hidden Peak Summit
A little further outside of Provo sits Hidden Peak Summit, about a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from the city. A highly trafficked spot, you might find you have company when you come to stargaze. It is not just known for it’s snowboarding and skiing, but for it’s incredible view as well. 

You can come on your own, or take the trek out with a stargazing group. During the summer, people organize stargazing outings to Hidden Peak Summit to take advantage of it’s high elevation and close-up views of the night sky. 

Rock Canyon Trail Parking Lot
If you are looking for a spot that is close to town and easy to access, this could be the one for you. The trail itself is not recommended after dark, but the parking lot to the trailhead is open 24 hours, and is situated right on an overlook of Provo. You can do some very decent star gazing as soon as you step out of your car.

The parking lot is located at Rock Canyon Trailhead Park (not Rock Canyon Park). If you are feeling adventurous, you can make a day of it – hike the moderate 5.5 mile trail for the daytime view, and then hang out at your car for the evening star show. Bring something to eat and your romantic evening is complete.

Big Springs Park
In this lovely park, you will find both astronomy clubs and general stargazers who are drawn to the exceptionally dark sky. Due in part to the mountains that edge it, Big Spring Park is considered a Dark Sky Area, making it an ideal place to see many stars. 

Located about 25 minutes outside of Provo via US-189 N, it is close enough to town for an evening drive. The well-manicured park is easy to access even in the dark, and you can get a great view without straying too far from your car. 

Payson Canyon
Just 25 minutes south of Provo, Payson Canyon is for the camping enthusiast that wants to add an extra element of the great outdoors to their stargazing. There are several campgrounds to choose from in the canyon area, including Maple Bench Campground.  

Maple Bench Campground is the closest campground in Payson Canyon to Provo. During the day you can hike around the area or engage in many different water activities from fishing to floating. That said, the real draw is the night sky view. While it is open for day use as well, if you choose to camp and see the stars, you won’t regret it. 

tent set up beneath night sky
Antelope Island State Park
If you are up for a longer drive, Antelope Island State Park is a great option for stargazers. The International Dark Sky Association deemed this State Park one of the few current International Dark Sky State Parks in Utah in 2017, and for good reason. 

Aside from boasting a high-quality night sky viewing experience (seriously—check out some of the pictures on the Utah State Parks website), it's worth the drive for its accessible location and campsites. If you don’t want to make the drive back home, stay overnight, and get the full starry experience. The park also offers astronomy programs if you want or need some guidance. 

When it comes to stargazing around Provo, Utah, we have it! Whether you are a stargazer who is hoping for a meditative experience or you want to become more adept at reading the night sky, you can find a location close to Provo that suits your needs and experience level.