8 Amazing Spots for Stargazing in Zion National Park (2023)

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Wondering where to go stargazing in Zion National Park? This is the post for you!

We all know that Utah sunsets are showstoppers. Have you ever stuck around for the afterparty? As soon as the sun goes down, cars pile up to exit the park but stick around to get to know the Milky Way just a little better.

Stargazing in Zion adds another level to the national park’s beauty that you can only see with the cover of darkness.

But with so many locations in the park, it can be hard to know the best one to view the night sky with. Here are a few you can pick from.

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Where to Stargaze in Zion

Canyon Overlook Trail

Canyon Overlook trail is located on Highway 9, situated after Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel. During the day, this trailhead can get super hectic and parking is scarce, but at night, you should have no problem finding a spot.

If you get there as the sun is going down, there might still be a packed parking lot, but not to worry. Drive a little further down the road, and there is an overflow parking lot that will work just as well.

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    You’ll have to walk about half a mile to get to the overlook, so be sure to come stocked with flashlights. You’ll be hiking up on top of Zion’s Great Arch and will be able to observe the night sky from there.

    If you decide to visit the park in the winter, I would check this trail out in the day before you venture up it at night. If the trail is icy, your hike can quickly go from exciting to treacherous.

    This is the shortest hike in the park that will get you to a viewpoint, so it’s a quick and easy option for stargazing.

    Stars in a purple sky over a mountain silhouette

    Pa’rus Trail

    We know it can be tempting to just stop on the side of the road and take a look at the sky, but remember, you are in the Utah wilderness. It will get very dark when the sun goes down, and passing cars will have a hard time seeing you.

    Pa’rus Trail is a great option to avoid the busy, dark road and stay safe while exploring the galaxy.

    Paiute for “bubbling water,” Pa’rus Trail is a paved trail stemming off from the visitor’s center and follows the Virgin River. The total length is 3.4 miles, but if you find a spot that is perfect for stargazing before the end, feel free to camp out there.

    This is also one of the best places in the park for a night walk. Other trails are not recommended for night walks due to sheer drop-offs or cliffs and even a late-night meet-up with a rattlesnake or a mountain lion.

    Keep your flashlight full of batteries, and Pa’rus Trail will provide you with everything you need for a relaxing walk and a beautiful stargazing experience.

    Watchman Campground (great if you’re camping in the park!)

    So you’re already staying the night in Zion and want to know where to stargaze at? Well, just look up!

    Watchman Campground is the best campground in Zion National Park to stargaze due to its positioning. You can find it right next to the visitor’s center, and it’s only a fourth of a mile away from South Campground.

    Instead of having to drive to a different location in the park, set up a stargazing station right in your campsite, and when you’ve had enough, just crawl right into your tent or RV.

    Watchman Campground does require a reservation. You can make those up to 6 months in advance. If you’re planning to go during Zion’s busy season, book right away to make sure you get your spot.

    Camping AND stargazing in Zion sound like the perfect combo to me.

    Blue sky filled with stars at night over a rock formation

    Kolob Canyons Viewpoint

    Kolob Canyons Viewpoint takes you to the west side of the park for a different take on the stars in Zion.

    Before the sun goes down, drive the Kolob Canyons scenic road and set up a base where you can enjoy the sunset from. The orange cliffs will become effervescent, then slowly give way to the all-encompassing dark sky.

    At that point, lay down on your blanket, or lean back in your chair to witness the stars come out of hiding. Looking eastward toward the cliffs will supply you with the darkest skies and the best views.

    The Kolob Canyons scenic drive is about 5 miles and will contain some of your favorite sights you’ll see in the park, whether in the daylight or at night.

    Unlike Zion Canyon, the park’s main canyon, Kolob Canyon is open year-round for you to take your vehicle up into. If you’re brave enough to face the cold, the winter skies are just as pretty as summer ones.

    Rock formation with a starry sky above

    Visitor Center

    Zion Canyon Visitor Center is another great spot for stargazing in Zion. 

    If you’re on your way out of the park but want an uncomplicated stop to stargaze, pull into the parking lot of the visitor’s center and set up shop before leaving the park.

    Pulling into the visitor center before it gets completely dark may allow you the opportunity to talk to a ranger about tips on stargazing. You could also snag a souvenir or two.

    Zion Canyon Visitor Center is open year-round, closing only on December 25. In the spring and fall, it is open from 8 am- 6 pm. Summers extend closing to 7 pm, and winter it will close a little earlier at 5 pm.

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      Checkerboard Mesa

      Checkerboard Mesa is one of the most unique rock formations in the park, and in Utah, so many visitors stop by this landmark throughout the day. 

      What a lot of them don’t know is that Checkerboard Mesa is also one of the best spots for stargazing in Zion.

      To get to Checkerboard Mesa, you’ll start at the bottom of the park, winding through Highway 9, and passing the visitor’s center, museums, and some other landmarks. Once you pass through Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, Checkerboard Mesa is right up ahead.

      There are a couple of different pull-offs in the area surrounding the Mesa, so there are plenty of angles to see the Mesa through, as well as the constellations.

      The scenery is stunning here, and the stars will just add another level to its beauty.

      Blue night sky filled with stars over an orange rocky mountain

      Any Pull-Offs Throughout the Park

      There are many, many pull-offs scattered around each area of the park, and many of them make great stops for Zion National Park Stargazing.

      Zion Canyon has plenty of beautiful places to pull off, surrounded by cliffs and rock formations, but those can sometimes obstruct your view of the starry night sky.

      Kolob Canyon, which you can reach through the scenic drive I mentioned earlier, has pull-offs that have some clearer views of the sky, so if you’re looking to go the pull-off route.

      If you have time during the day, I would recommend scouting out a pull-off you’d find suitable for stargazing so you’re not stumbling around in the dark, literally, to find somewhere.

      This is an excellent stargazing option for those in a rush who don’t want to go too deep into the park to experience the Stargazing Zion. Remember to pull off the road entirely and don’t venture into the road. Cars passing by will have a hard time seeing you, so be safe!

      Stars in the dark night sky over a mountain

      The Deck of the Human History Museum

      Initially, both the visitor center and local museum park, the Human History Museum has been serving visitors of Zion National Park for over 50 years.

      Head into this museum during the day, and you can learn fascinating information about the inhabitants of the park long before civilization ever got a hold of it. There is also a history of the pioneers that came to Zion.

      Entrance is free, and it is open from 9 am-5 pm daily. The Human History Museum is located just a mile from the south entrance of the park.

      Now, if you come after hours, you can come to see a different kind of exhibit than what is showcased in the museum. 

      If you’re not stargazing in Zion, you’re only experiencing half of what the park has to offer. There aren’t a ton of places that allow you to see the sky like this anymore, so don’t let this opportunity pass you by! 

      Just a few tips before you start planning your trip: If you want to see the Milky Way, visit in the summer months. Use a star-finding app so you make sure you see what you want to see. And keep track of the weather so there isn’t cloud cover, rain, or snow on your selected night.

      Happy stargazing!

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