The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education.
Not only does Utah have TEN recognised International Dark Sky Parks, more than anywhere in the world, but a further thirteen Dark Sky Places as well. Consistent reviews of communities, reserves and sanctuaries are adding more to the list all the time.
Our 12-night fly-drive is all about dramatic scenery by day and an awesome celestial display by night.
Price per person includes:
Surrounded by the Great Salt Lake to the northwest and the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountain ranges to the east and west, Salt Lake City was founded in 1847 by pioneers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, led by Brigham Young. Discover a city with a fascinating past and present and interesting ecclesiastical architecture.
Just over an hour’s drive from the city is extraordinary Antelope Island. At 42 square miles, this is the largest island in the Great Salt Lake and a magnet for wildlife. That includes a 600+ strong herd of bison, over 250 species of birds, mule deer, pronghorn antelope and coyote roaming the vast desert-like landscape.
This is the closest certified International Dark Sky Park to Salt Lake City and beckons you to stargaze from the salty remnants of its ancient lake. Aim to head to Buffalo Point or Frary Peak for sunset hiking and stargazing opportunities.
Distance: 46 miles
Leave the city behind for the verdant Ogden Valley. Strong in Native American heritage, prior to pioneer settlers, the Valley served as summer hunting grounds for four Utah tribes including the Ute. Huntsville Square was one of the traditional gathering places for tribes to trade with trappers and early settlers of the area.
Your overnight stop is at the unique Compass Rose Lodge. The lodge is home to HALO, the Huntsville Astronomic and Lunar Observatory, where, weather dependent, they host nightly starwalk tours with state-of-the-art telescopes to examine planets, stars and deep sky objects.
Native American tipis are also available to rent by the hour and ideal for enjoying the night sky and a roaring campfire. Ask your Bon Voyage consultant about pre-booking this experience for you.
Distance: 76 miles
Take a scenic drive to Park City, which in its mining heyday, extracted over 400 million dollars worth of silver from the hills surrounding the city. The silver boom created 23 millionaires including George Hearst, father of newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst. Today, it's charming Main Street is a joy to stroll along with many of the buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Continue to nearby Heber City located in a beautiful mountain valley just a short drive from the Wasatch Mountain Range.
Spend your time in this region of Utah visiting the Homestead Crater, a geothermal spring, hidden within a 55-foot tall beehive shaped limestone rock on the Homestead property. Over 10,000 years in the making, the crater is now the only warm scuba diving destination within the continental US. Enjoy a trip on the tracks on the Heber City Heritage Railroad through some astonishing mountain scenery, or enjoy a scenic drive through the wilderness of the Uinta National Forest. The Mirror Lake Highway stretches for 42 miles and climbs to 10,000 feet at the Bald Mountain Pass, before descending to the border of Wyoming.
Heber Valley is nestled on the east side of the Wasatch Mountains and relatively shielded from light pollution. The valley has three state parks, one of which, Jordanelle, was granted International Dark Sky status in January 2021. Various scheduled Dark Sky events happen throughout the year including Dark Sky parties.
Ask your Bon Voyage travel consultant to let you know what's taking place during your time in this area.
Distance: 207 miles
Moab is your base from which to explore some of the most dramatic scenery in the whole of the USA, with the surrounding area offering some of the darkest skies in the US. During the day, spend time discovering Arches & Canyonlands National Parks, and the lesser known but equally jaw-dropping Dead Horse State Park. All the parks are in relatively close distance to each other, so three days in this region will allow you to soak up the scenery at a leisurely pace.
Canyonlands has been given gold-tier status as the night skies are so pristine. You'll find the naked eye is sufficient to witness a wealth of stars and, under the right conditions, common binoculars may even reveal the rings of Saturn. Organised Sky Ranger programmes and events are available from Moab, Bon Voyage would be pleased to suggest and pre-book these for you. And, if camping under the stars is of interest to you, ask about luxury glamping options available in this area.
Distance: 146 miles
The San Rafael Valley leads to the strange and weirdly wonderful, Goblin Valley State Park. This International Dark Sky Park is a land of thousands of eroded Entrada sandstone pinnacles that resemble goblins. These are some of the largest 'hoodoos' in the world and a sight to behold!
At Capitol Reef State Park, the Waterpocket Fold, is the park's main feature. This 100-mile long wrinkle in the earth’s crust, extends out from Thousand Lakes Mountain to the Colorado River. Travel the park's scenic drive and marvel at the slip rock scenery, punctuated with coloured cliffs, domes, canyons and arches. The park’s visitors centre serves as a hub of information for novice and professional stargazers alike, so definitely pop in and find out the celestial displays that you can expect in the evening.
Distance: 112 miles
Scenic highway 12 between Capitol Reef National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park is referred to as 'one of the most beautiful highways in America'. We couldn't agree more. Jagged red-rock formations, deep slot canyons, green alpine forests and rolling meadows provide plenty of material for yet another photo.
Some travellers drive it all in one go, but we recommend you take the day to do this and stop along the way to check out some of its unique sites and vistas.
Bryce Canyon National Park, named after the Pioneer Ebenezer Bryce, became a national park in 1924. Famous for its unique geology, the park is not really a canyon, but a series of horseshoe shaped amphitheatres carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Erosion has carved colourful Claron limestone’s into thousands of spires, fins, arches and mazes. Collectively called, hoodoos, these unique formations are whimsically arranged and tinted with colours too numerous and subtle to name.
Bryce Canyon is the ultimate place to learn about and enjoy the splendour of the night sky. Far from the light pollution of civilization, protected by a special force of park rangers and volunteer astronomers, Bryce Canyon is a sanctuary for natural darkness. No visit to Bryce Canyon is complete without joining the Astronomy Rangers for one of their educational and entertaining celebrations of natural darkness that take place throughout the year. Topics include the life cycles of stars, space exploration missions, the stories written in the constellations and more.
Distance: 89 miles
Continue on the scenic highway route to your next stop - Zion. Once you get to Zion, you’ll quickly understand why a writer experiencing Zion said, “It is here that the grandeur of the natural form unites with brilliancy of colour.” From sunrise to sunset, the changing scenes pass before you in awesome hues. Be sure to watch as light plays upon the rock, immersing you in a dazzling light show. You are surely in one of Mother Nature’s masterpieces.
A popular excursion in Zion is to hike the Narrows. Here you'll wade along the Virgin River and be surrounded by towering red canyon walls. Perfect way to cool off in the Utah summer heat. This experience must be booked in advance, which we'd be delighted to do on your behalf.
The reality of stargazing in Zion is that you can do it almost anywhere. If you prepare with red lights and the proper equipment, you can find a quiet spot for stargazing even in one of the country’s most popular national parks. If you want to head out to a less visited area, check out Kolob Canyon in the northwest section of Zion National Park, it’s a great spot for stargazing – maybe even better than the main canyon.
If camping under the stars interests you, ask about our luxury glamping options in Zion.
Distance: 149 miles
It's an easy drive back to Las Vegas for your early evening flight home to the UK.
Unless......you’d like a few nights in Vegas to see neon night skies? More time in Utah? A ranch stay or perhaps continue your road trip to the California coast?
All Bon Voyage holidays are tailor-made to your exact requirements. Call us today to discuss your perfect celestial getaway.