Another Utah state park earns distinction as a top place to see the stars

(Courtesy Bettymaya Foott) A star part at Steinaker State Park in September 2017.

Another Utah state park has earned an International Dark Sky Association designation.

Steinaker Reservoir near Vernal received the honor and will celebrate that status sometime this spring.

It joins Antelope Island, Goblin Valley and Dead Horse Point state parks with a Dark Sky designation. Utah State Park officials said there are a dozen more parks in various stages of the application process.

Steinaker park staff took measurements of the quality of the night sky over the course of a year. Rangers held star parties and changed bulbs and fixtures to enhance views of the stars.

(Courtesy Tom Howells) The Milky Way over Steinaker State Park in August 2017.

“Having internationally recognized dark skies bolsters our ability to attract more visitors and offer more night programming, which results in more people enjoying our parks at more times of the day,” said Fred Hayes, Utah State Parks director.

With the announcement for Steinaker State Park, “Utah retains and expands its impressive lead among U.S. states in terms of the number of places whose night skies are under meaningful stewardship,” said Scott Feieraband, International Dark Sky Association executive director. “Steinaker’s proactive strategies to conserve natural nighttime darkness in the park ensure that Utahns of today and tomorrow continue to have access to this precious and increasingly threatened resource.”

(Courtesy Tom Howells) The Milky Way over Steinaker State Park in October 2017.