Lonely Planet Writer

Antelope Island State Park in Utah is the latest International Dark Sky Park

You’ll be seeing stars if you head to Utah this year as the clear skies above Antelope Island State Park have led to it being awarded the prestigious accolade of “International Dark Sky Park.” This award means that Utah is now home to nine IDSPs, more than any other state or province in the world. Antelope Island State Park joins a list that includes the recently designated Cedar Breaks National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, Hovenweep National Monument, Goblin Valley State Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park and Weber County North Fork Park.

Antelope Island State Park becomes latest addition to Utah’s line up of International Dark Sky Parks. Image: Dan Ransom
Antelope Island State Park becomes the latest addition to Utah’s line up of International Dark Sky Parks. Image: Dan Ransom

This honour of being an International Dark Sky Park is reserved for the world’s most spectacular starscapes. It is awarded to lands possessing an “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights, and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage and/or public enjoyment.”

Milky Way over yurts at Dead Horse Point. Image: Brett Edge
Milky Way over yurts at Dead Horse Point. Image: Brett Edge

Located just under an hour’s drive north east of Salt Lake City, Antelope Island is far enough away from urban areas to offer stargazers a perfect vision of the night skies in their full glory. There are many dark sky offerings across Utah this summer, including full moon mountain treks from Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort and the ‘Master Astronomer Program.’ There are also free star parties at Cedar Breaks National Monument, and the Astronomy Festival held at sprawling Bryce Canyon National Park every June.

Star Party. Image: Chris Wonderly
A Star Party in Utah. Image: Chris Wonderly

“The addition of Antelope Island as Utah’s ninth International Dark Sky Park reinforces the state’s position as the premier stargazing destination not just in the United States, but in the world, ” says Becky Johnson, Senior Global Manager for the Utah Office of Tourism, Film & Global Branding. “With exciting new activities and offerings across all nine of our Dark Sky Parks for 2017, we’re expecting to see plenty of visitors jetting in to embrace the night.”