In 2015, Capitol Reef National Park was named an International Dark Sky Park. This made official something that locals and visitors had long known; that Capitol Reef and nearby Torrey, Utah offer some truly incredible views come nightfall.
On clear nights, the skies fill with a dizzying array of stars. You don’t even have to go all the way into the park to enjoy the views. You can enjoy some great stargazing from your Torrey accommodation, like Cougar Ridge.
Ready to experience the stunning nighttime views? Keep reading to learn more about what an International Dark Sky is, and how to do some stargazing during your stay in Torrey accommodation.
What is an International Dark Sky Park?
The International Dark Sky Association is an organization that was formed in 1988 with the goal of protecting the world’s night skies for future generations. They work with governments, park officials, city leaders, and more to advocate for measures to protect our night skies and keep them dark. They also educate the public on the importance of these measures and how they can do their part to chip in.
Why Do Our Night Skies Need Protection?
If you aren’t familiar with the International Dark-Sky Association and its efforts, you might be wondering why exactly our night skies need protection. The answer is light pollution.
Light pollution is caused by the overuse of artificial light at night. It comes in many forms. Cities, with their endless buildings, street lights, and other light sources, cause excessive light pollution. That’s why you’ll rarely see a sky full of stars when you’re near a city. And why you’ll likely never see a single star when you’re in a large metropolis.
Light pollution isn’t a problem that is reserved for cities alone. If it were, places like Capitol Reef wouldn’t need the efforts of organizations like the International Dark-Sky Association; their distance from any major cities would be enough. However, light pollution can be caused by any lights. This includes small numbers of them. Outdoor lighting directed toward the sky is always a source of light pollution. In our national parks, street lights and security or landscape lighting around visitors centers, ranger stations, campgrounds, and other locations in the parks all contribute to light pollution and affect our ability to see the night sky in all of its glory.
It isn’t just stargazers that want to keep the skies dark. Dark night skies are also important to our wildlife. Artificial light can harm the sleep and wake cycles of nocturnal creatures. It can affect their ability to track prey, and otherwise affect their survival rate. Plant life has been proven to suffer as well. In one study, trees were shown to adjust to seasonal variations faster than they should have as a result of exposure to artificial light.
What the Dark Sky Designation Means in Capitol Reef National Park
In order to earn its spot on the list of International Dark Sky Parks, officials at Capitol Reef National Park have taken measures to reduce light pollution. This includes getting rid of unnecessary artificial light during the nighttime hours. Lights that do need to be left on have been switched to special light bulbs and enclosures that help direct the shine downward, instead of toward the sky.
The park has also long hosted educational programs aimed at teaching the public about astronomy and the harmful effects of light pollution.
Stargazing From Your Torrey Accommodation
You don’t have to book a Capitol Reef camping adventure to enjoy some incredible stargazing during your visit. In fact, when you stay in our Torrey accommodation, you won’t even need to go into the park to enjoy some amazing stargazing!
Cougar Ridge enjoys some equally incredible views. Simply step outside your villa and look up. If you aren’t from somewhere that enjoys as little light pollution as Torrey, you’ll be stunned by what you see.
For a stargazing experience the whole family will love, consider joining one of our Bonfire and Star Parties. These are hosted most Tuesdays and Saturdays starting in April 2023. Guests enjoy a bonfire with s’mores and hot beverages. This is followed by a guided stargazing experience with a telescope.
Learn about the stars and constellations that you’re seeing, and get a chance to see them up close. This event is open to guests of our Torrey accommodation as well as to the public. This makes it a great way to spend an evening for locals or those staying in other local hotels or enjoying Capitol Reef camping in one of the park’s campgrounds.
Planning a Visit to Cougar Ridge
Our Bonfire and Star Party is just one of the things that makes Cougar Ridge the best Torrey accommodation. If you want to experience the incredible night skies of Torrey or simply enjoy a fun family evening, consider booking one of our parties during your next visit! Tickets for the Bonfire and Star Party are $50 per adult and $35 per child.
But right now, when you book a stay of three or more nights before June 30, you’ll enjoy a 25 percent discount on your stay! That’s enough to make your Bonfire and Star Party with your family free. Book today to take advantage of these savings.