Witness a captivating display of stellar magnificence and celestial grandeur at Canyonlands National Park, renowned as one of the best destinations in the world for stargazing. Located along The Great Western Starry Way—a cluster of International Dark Sky Parks spanning from New Mexico to Montana—Canyonlands offers unobstructed views of star-filled skies. Here’s our guide to an out-of-this-world stargazing experience in Canyonlands National Park.
The Best Times to Stargaze in Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands boasts some of the most spectacular night skies during the summer months, making it the perfect time to stargaze. Join a National Park Service ranger-led stargazing event or venture out on your own. Check the sunrise and sunset times and moon phases at discovermoab.com. See an infinite sea of stars around the new moon phase when there’s no moon to dim the dazzling night sky.
Viewing the Milky Way
Exploring the American West offers a unique opportunity to marvel at the Milky Way, a mesmerizing spiral galaxy that has been in existence for billions of years. Look for the central part of the Milky Way, known as the galactic core, surrounded by cloudlike swirls shining brightly from March through November.
Pro tip: Give your eyes at least 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness to see a wealth of stars visible to the naked eye. Take your viewing to the next level with binoculars or a telescope to get a closer look.
Stargazing in Canyonlands National Park
As the sun sets, the sky comes alive with a myriad of sparkling stars, planets, and constellations visible from every corner of Canyonlands National Park. The park is divided into three districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, and The Maze. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere ripe for stargazing. For easy access to the most popular stargazing spots, we recommend sticking to the Island in the Sky and The Needles.
Island in the Sky District
For those staying in Moab, the Island in the Sky District is the perfect location for stargazing. Just 10 miles north of Moab on UT 313, this park area is easily accessible, does not require hiking, and offers unparalleled desert views.
Situated atop a scenic plateau, the Mesa Arch offers an unobstructed view of the night sky, making it the perfect location for stargazing enthusiasts. It’s especially popular for astrophotography because, on many summer nights, the Milky Way can be seen in all its glory hovering above the arch.
Grand View Point Overlook
Set on the edge of a breathtaking canyon, this incredible overlook provides a panoramic view of the night sky, offering a spectacular stargazing experience. Take a scenic drive at sunset and then hike a mile to reach Grand View Point.
Green River Overlook
Follow a short 0.2-mile paved path to a viewpoint overlooking a vast plateau, chiseled by the mighty Green River over millions of years. This area is tucked away from the more crowded areas of the park, offering a secluded and tranquil spot for stargazing.
The Needles District
Located 40 miles south of Moab on UT 211, this district offers a diverse landscape filled with unique rock spires and formations that make for stunning foregrounds in photography. With its remote location and minimal light pollution, The Needles District provides an incredible opportunity to witness the beauty of the night sky.
Wooden Shoe Arch Overlook
Follow the main road to reach this roadside overlook. It’s easy to get to without hiking and offers views of a unique sandstone arch shaped like a classic Dutch wooden shoe. It’s one of the smaller rock formations in The Needles, but it makes for a lovely stargazing backdrop.
Big Spring Canyon Overlook
As you reach the end of the main road in The Needles, a captivating sight awaits you: stunning canyon cliffs and spires that create a perfect setting for a mesmerizing night sky experience. There’s no hiking required to reach the stargazing spot, and it takes only a few minutes to walk from the parking lot to the viewing area, making this spot an ideal choice for families looking to enjoy the wonder of the night sky together.
Stargazing Near Canyonlands National Park
There are plenty of opportunities for unparalleled star viewing just outside Canyonlands National Park.
Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point State Park offers a panoramic view of the surrounding canyons and cliffs on a high plateau above the Colorado River, providing an awe-inspiring backdrop for stargazing. The park’s elevation and location helps to create clear and unobstructed views of the night sky. Visitors can take advantage of ranger-led stargazing programs, which provide a deeper understanding of the constellations and other celestial objects visible at night.
The Needles Overlook is a unique stargazing spot that should not be confused with the Needles District of Canyonlands. Set 1,600 feet above the Needles District, this spot offers nearly 360-degree views of the sandstone spires that line the horizon. Located 22 miles off Hwy 191 on Rd 133, the Needles Overlook offers a secluded and picturesque location for stargazing.
Experience the night sky like never before by staying at ULUM Moab. Unwind with post-sunset activities such as stargazing, socializing around a crackling campfire, and sipping your favorite drinks beneath the wonders of the cosmos. Indulge in the comfort of your secluded desert retreat, where you’ll discover luxurious safari-inspired tent accommodations, a full-service restaurant, dipping pools, a yoga deck, onsite hiking, and so much more.