Seriously Star Struck: Yellowstone Introduces Urbanites To The Endangered Night Sky
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK – October 17, 2016 – City dwellers flock to Yellowstone National Park for a chance to encounter bison, bighorn sheep, elk and other animals not usually spotted on the subway, but more and more travelers to this special spot are appreciating a different unique attraction: the star-studded skies.
Guests simply look up at night to experience a dazzling display of constellations, planets and nebulae normally invisible because of their cities’ light pollution.
“Yellowstone National Park is a good place for star-gazing because there are no large population centers nearby. When visitors get a little bit away from the lodges, people are always amazed by the amount of stars they see,” says Leslie Quinn, an interpretive specialist at Yellowstone.
GREAT SPOTS FOR STARGAZING
Firehole Lake Drive, a 3-mile, one-way road off of Yellowstone’s Grand Loop is easily accessible but away from main areas.
Stargazers can drive to Dunraven Pass, which at 8,859 feet rates as the highest road in Yellowstone, one that provides wide expanses of sky. Be mindful that you will be driving up and down a mountain road in the dark.
Upper Geyser Basin, located near Old Faithful, offers boardwalks and broad views of the skies while being near the lodges.
Mammoth Hot Springs, near the park’s north entrance, also offers boardwalks and great views of the sky.
Mount Washburn’s peak, one of the higher points in the park, reaches 10,243 feet. Expert hikers can tackle the trail to Mount Washburn’s peak, but should travel in groups of three or more people and carry along strong flashlights as the trail isn’t lit. Access the hiking trails from Dunraven Pass on Grand Loop Road or Chittenden Road.
Night-sky programs, often in cooperation with the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., are offered at select times in summer. Experts set up telescopes for close views of star clusters, the moon, and other planets.
Stars Over Yellowstone, evening astronomy talks by top astronomers, are held at the Madison Amphitheater several times in summer. You can spot the Milky Way, Saturn, craters of the moon, star clusters, and nebula. Telescopes are available. For both programs, check the activities guide.
Steam, Stars and Winter Soundscapes, a 2-hour evening adventure delivers the magic of winter nights in Yellowstone. Traverse roads in the park’s iconic snow coaches, getting out at various points to listen to the geysers, witness the brilliant night sky, and maybe even catch sight of an icicle-covered bison. Outings are available from Dec. 16, 2016, to Feb. 25, 2017.
For more information, visit yellowstonenationalparklodges.com or call 307-344-7311.
For more travel experiences available from Xanterra Parks & Resorts and its affiliated properties, visit xanterra.com/explore.
Sally Spaulding, firstname.lastname@example.org, 970-986-9063
Rene A. Mack, email@example.com, 201-312-4252
Photos and interviews available upon request.