Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is an awe-inspiring 1,900 square miles of deep valleys, striking formations, and some of the oldest exposed rock on Earth. As magnificent as it is during the day, after the sun sets, the night sky adds a whole new element of magic to the park’s gorgeous landscapes.
In celebration of the spectacular views above the Grand Canyon at nighttime, each June, the park rangers host a “Star Party” in the national park during which they invite stargazing enthusiasts and casual observers to “view an assortment of planets, double stars, star clusters, nebulae and distant galaxies by night” in this designated International Dark Sky Park.
This year’s annual Star Party will take place from June 18 through 25. Events begin on both the North and South Rims at 8 p.m., but according to the National Park Service (NPS) , the best viewing is after 9 p.m.
“Skies will be starry and dark until the moon rises the first night. It rises progressively later throughout the week of the Star Party,” the NPS said on its website.
Beyond constellation tours at 9, 9:30, and 10 p.m., park rangers on the South Rim will host unique events each night of the Star Party, starting with a presentation from Aaron Yazzie, one of the engineers who built the Mars rover. Yazzie is part of the Navajo Nation and will share how their land connects to the red planet. On other nights, activities will include talks about the James Webb Telescope, International Dark Sky Places, extraterrestrial life, and how, in the 1960s and ’70s, astronauts trained for their moon missions in northern Arizona.
Happenings on the North Rim will include nightly astronomy-related discussions at 8 p.m. in the Grand Canyon Lodge auditorium. The topics of of those presentations will be announced on the park bulletin boards. There will also be telescopes set up on the porch each night and amateur astronomers on hand to share their knowledge.
How to get tickets
While the event is free, attendees are still required to pay the park entrance fee ($35 per vehicle, $30 per motorcycle, or $20 per person entering by foot, bicycle, or park shuttle bus). Entrance passes can be purchased online or at the park entrance.
If you can’t make it this year, the NPS has already announced that the 2023 dates will be June 10 through 17.