5 Great Places To Go Stargazing in Wyoming - Wyoming Magazine


5 Great Places To Go Stargazing in Wyoming


Wyoming is known for its abundance of outdoor activities. Activities like hiking, fishing, rock climbing and horseback riding woo tourists from around the world to its deep gorges, steep canyons and trails, loaded with lush greenery. Over six-million visitors cross Wyoming’s borders annually to reap the benefits of its clean air, miles of hiking trails and beautiful scenery.

Wyoming, a Stargazer’s Delight

Devils Tower Milky Way

Devils Tower Milky Way. Photo Courtesy of David Kingham

Some of Wyoming’s most coveted sights can be spied, not underneath the blaze of the hot sun, but at night. Stargazers head to Wyoming to view constellations and nebulas that cannot be seen near the harsh lights of the city. They crave the isolation offered by stark prairies and in-depth information that Wyoming Park rangers can lend. Fall asleep underneath a blanket of stars at these five prime spots for stargazing in Wyoming.

  1. Stare Up at the Stars from a Boat on Lake Flaming Gorge

Recognized not just for stargazing, Lake Flaming Gorge is a 91-mile reservoir that spans the Utah-Wyoming border.

Fishermen can dip their lines in the water and pull out salmon, smallmouth bass and rainbow trout. Fishermen come from every corner of the earth for the trophy lake trout fishery.

Lake Flaming Gorge

Lake Flaming Gorge. Photo Courtesy of Chad Teer

The Utah side offers steep canyons, and the Wyoming side has deserts filled with sagebrush. At night, visitors can lay back in their dinghies and take advantage of the area’s zero light pollution with a perfect view of constellations and shooting stars. The reservoir is accessible by three marinas. Campsites are kept remote by only being accessible by boat—which also keeps light pollution low and stargazing conditions optimal. The area was favorite by turn-of-the-century explorer and geologist, John Wesley Powell. Lake Flaming Gorge is not only beautiful, this stretch of the river is one of the most accessible in Wyoming and Utah.

  1. Experience the Sky of Extraterrestrials at Devils Tower National Monument

Known for its cameo in the 1977 Richard Dreyfuss cult classic, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, Devils Tower National Monument rises out of the Black Hills with dramatic flair. The 872-foot tower was created by volcanic magma and is a unique geological site that draws 4,000 tourists each year. Sacred to the area’s tribes, including the Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians, the site holds religious and historic significance.

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower National Monument. Photo Courtesy of Don Barrett

Since the structure has thousands of vertical cracks creeping up its sides, it also attracts crack climbers, year round. During full moons, park rangers lead evening hikes to view the night sky. The prairie’s flat surface contrasts with the monument’s harsh verticality in the moonlight, making Devils Tower even more dramatic at night. Stargazers might not notice the tower too much though—the surrounding stars are area’s the main event at night.

Though campers are welcome in the area, little lodging is available for visitors. The closest modern digs are located in Hulett, a small town, 10 miles away from the monument, making this area’s stargazing much more remote and ten times more superior.

  1. Stargaze at Wyoming’s Most Popular Spot, Jackson Hole

Home of Wyoming Stargazing, a non-profit planetary and observatory, Jackson Hole is Wyoming’s most popular spot to spy the night sky. During the day, this stargazer’s paradise moonlights as a popular spot for shredding the ski slopes and watching cowboys kick some butt in the local rodeo. Nearby Cody, Wyoming was once home to legendary Wildman Buffalo Bill, who was a showman and hunter, and visitors flock to the Buffalo Bill Museum to learn about the legend and the myth of one of history’s most famous rodeo riders.

Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole. Photo Courtesy of Larry Johnson

At night, stargazers head to the scopes—the telescopes that is—to get a glimpse of the closest thing to heaven, Jackson Hole’s spectacular view of star clusters, constellations and otherworldly galaxies. Pros are even on hand to answer questions and point out some stellar stars visitors might miss on their own. It’s not uncommon to see shooting stars or even the Northern Lights.

The Milky Way over the John Moulton Barn, Mormon Row, Jachson Hole

The Milky Way over the John Moulton Barn, Mormon Row, Jachson Hole

Photo Courtesy of Dave Soldano

Summer brings a view of Saturn’s rings, while the dark night sky will display a better look at the Ring of Nebula and the Cigar Galaxy. The pros can even explain how to use smartphone astronomy software, so visitors can keep exploring on their own.

Where else will someone explain the mysteries of the universe—including its creation?

  1. See the Sunset, Stars and Sunrise at Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton National Park is probably most well-known, not for the stars visitors can see at night, but the one they can spot during the day—the sun. The sunsets and sunrises at this natural wonder are considered to be some of the most magnificent in the entire world.

Schwabacher Landing Sunrise, Grand Teton National Park

Schwabacher Landing Sunrise, Grand Teton National Park
Photo Courtesy of Matthew Paulson

Yet when the sun goes down, the real magic starts to happen. Free of light pollution, Grand Teton National Park offers glorious views of the Milky Way and constellations, plus millions of other stars that most earthlings would be unable to get their eyes on anywhere else. In August, visitors can view the Perseid meteor shower, as long as they’re willing to stay up late or get out of bed a little early. When there are dozens of shooting stars, wishes tend to come true.

Campers can set up their tents outside, and tourists who would prefer a cabin to “roughing it” can stay in a more modern setup. During the day, there’s plenty to keep stargazers occupied. In summer months, hikers can enjoy miles and miles of trails; fishermen can cast a line and reel in some tasty morsels from Snake River or Jackson Lake. During the winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular ways to get from Point A to Point B.

  1. Rock the Night Sky like a Rockefeller at Rockefeller Preserve Center

In 1932, philanthropist John D. Rockefeller purchased 1,100 acres of land on the former JY Ranch, along Phelps Lake. The ranch was disassembled and the land was returned to nature. Rockefeller spent over $20 million on this park. In 2008, this land was opened to the public, featuring eight miles of hiking trails and a visitor center, the first building in the National Park System to feature platinum-level Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). The building has composting toilets and is run on solar power.

Laurance Rockefeller Preserve Center

Laurance Rockefeller Preserve Center. Photo Courtesy of John J Schroeder

Hikers can get spectacular views of Phelps Lake on the main 2.5-mile loop. Handicapped visitors can also enjoy the scenery with an accessible trail that runs a third of a mile along Lake Creek.

During select nights in the summer, the preserve invites guests to get a closer look at the night sky through a telescope. From 10 pm to 12 am, tourists can spy constellations, star clusters and even Saturn with the help of park rangers. Keeping with the main goal of allowing nature to speak for itself, showing the public how we can relate to nature and the importance of conservation.

If the stars you long to see don’t reside in Beverly Hills, head to one of these five awesome locations to see a different kind of bling. Lake Flaming Gorge, Jackson Hole, Devils Tower, Grand Teton National Park and the Rockefeller Preserve Center are all places to get great views of some of nature’s most glorious wonders. Just goes to show that all that glitters doesn’t necessarily have to be gold.



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