Bryce Canyon National Park transforms into a different world at night. Removed from city noise, stargazing opportunities at Bryce Canyon are countless. We met up with some friends and went hiking and stargazing on the Fairyland Trail. This lesser known location provided a private viewing experience for us. We left for our hike on the Fairyland Trail at sunset and then continued about half way around with our flash lights and the gentle light of the waxing gibbous moon. We found a viewing location with fallen tree trunks for our seats and nestled in for a quiet evening. Overall, our October 2018 stargazing trip was a night to remember!
When we first left for our stargazing trip on the Fairyland Trail, I was hopeful to see the Milky Way.
Sadly, the Milky Way is best viewed and photographed when there is a new moon. Since we had a waxing gibbous moon, we couldn’t see the Milky Way well. In spite of that, we could see countless other stars and constellations. Can you spot the Big Dipper in the photograph above?
While a gibbous moon changed our stargazing trip on the Fairyland Trail, it also had its perks.
There are many advantages to hiking and star gazing with a waxing gibbous moon. One advantage of stargazing with a gibbous moon included being able to see the illumination of the cliffs and hoodoos around us! Another advantage included the illumination of the hiking trail. The moon acted like a spotlight on the cliffs around us, making for some really unique night time photographs!
Tips for Stargazing on the Fairyland Trail at Bryce Canyon National Park
To make the most of your stargazing experience, here are a few tips!
- Bring a flashlight – It gets dark quickly, and you want to be able to see the trail on your way back to your car
- Bring snacks and water – Why didn’t we bring hot chocolate???
- Hike with someone else – this makes it more fun as well as safer
- Wear good shoes – the Fairyland Trail is steep and skinny in a few places
- Dress in layers – As the sun sets, it gets colder. I was grateful for my hat, gloves, and layers that I had brought
Download an app to make the most out of your stargazing trip!
Dave downloaded a stargazing app on his phone so that would could identify some of the bigger constellations. We used Sky View, however, there are lots of free ones out there!
Having a star app helped us identify what was around us. We saw the constellations Draco the Dragon, the Seven Sisters, Cassiopeia, Ursula Major, Mars and so much more!
In addition to stargazing, we also enjoyed sharing stories with each other, laughing, and just soaking in life!
The hike on the Fairyland Trail to this location was mostly downhill, which meant the hike back would be tough.
While hiking downhill made it easy to get to our viewing location, I knew that what went down must also come up.
As Dave and I had already hiked a lot that day, on our way back to our car, I had to stop often because of my lungs and legs. I’d say, “I think this is a good place to look at the stars.” Really, though, I just needed a small rest. Thankfully our company graciously waited for me to catch my breath.
Before we left, I took the above photograph of the moon. It reminded me of the star over Bethlehem. Can you spot Mars a little to the right? It’s the bright red dot! While night photography can be difficult, it can also be a lot of fun! If you want to try your hand at night photography, I recommend buying Photography: Night Sky: A Field Guide for Shooting After Dark by Jennifer Wu. It’s SO helpful and makes the experience a lot more fun!
Whether you go for photographing the night sky or for Star Gazing, visiting Bryce Canyon after dark is totally worth it! Next time, though, I’m bringing hot chocolate!
I hope you get the opportunity to stargaze on the Fairyland Trail as well as visit Bryce Canyon National Park for yourself. If not, at least you can see it through my photos! Thanks for reading and sharing my adventures with me!
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