Already home to the world-famous Sundance Film Festival, Utah is now outshining the rest of the U.S. in a completely different kind of star quality too.
This year, three new locations have officially been recognised as ‘International Dark Sky Parks’ (IDSPs), an honour reserved for the world’s most stunning starscapes.
The three new additions – Capitol Reef National Park, Weber County North Fork Park and Canyonlands National Park – take Utah’s total number of IDSPs to five, the highest of any state in the US.
To qualify as an IDSP, an area must have “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.”
The three new additions complement Utah’s two existing IDSPs, Hovenweep National Monument and Natural Bridges Monument, which became the US’ first official International Dark Sky Park in 2007.
Thanks to some of the best stargazing experiences anywhere in the world, there are plenty of ways to engage with the heavenly highlights here. These include ranger-led sky-watching excursions in the national parks, as well as a dedicated ‘constellation concierge’ for hire at one of Utah’s largest ski resorts, Deer Valley.
Elsewhere in the state, Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort offers full moon mountain treks and rides to guests, while sprawling Bryce Canyon National Park plays host to a renowned Astronomy Festival every June.
Becky Johnson, Global Specialist for the Utah Office of Tourism, Film & Global Branding, commented: “We are delighted that three new locations have been welcomed into the International Dark Sky Parks Association. Utah’s national and state parks offer some of the most breath-taking scenery in the world – both during the day and at night – and we are so thrilled to have this identified further by such a recognised authority”.
For further information on the International Dark-Sky Association, visit www.darksky.org
For more information on Utah, visit www.visitutah.com