Explore the Grand Canyon at Night

Evening falling over the Grand Canyon

Photo © Chris Amelung, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Sunsets at Grand Canyon National Park are gorgeous, but you don’t have to call it a day when the sun goes down. The canyon’s high elevation, dry air, and dark skies make for spectacular stargazing. Each June, park rangers and astronomers host a Star Party, and programs highlighting the night sky are scheduled year-round.

You can see starry skies and the Milky Way almost anywhere at the South Rim, but for the fewest obstructions, take the Village Route shuttle to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.If you want to explore the night sky on your own, pick up a star map at a visitor center or gift shop (or download a phone app). Spring evenings are chilly—bundle up and bring a flashlight. You can see starry skies and the Milky Way almost anywhere at the South Rim, but for the fewest obstructions, take the Village Route shuttle to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The parking lot has wide-open overhead views. From there, a five-minute walk will take you to the rim-side Mather Amphitheater, also an excellent vantage point. (Unless you’re willing to call a cab or walk back to the village, be at a shuttle stop by 9:30pm to board the last bus.)

Moonless nights are best for stargazing, but watching the full moon rise (or set the next morning) is also a treat. Mars, the Red Planet, makes a good showing throughout April, especially around the lunar eclipse on April 14. Prepare to be dazzled!

Stargazing in the Grand Canyon.

Stargazing in the Grand Canyon. Photo © Uptowner, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

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