The Grand Canyon Is Hosting a Star Party Starting Next Weekend — and It's Totally Free

The annual party will take place from June 18 to June 25.

Milky Way stars over Grand Canyon and the Colorado River from Nankoweap Canyon area,
Photo: Royce's NightScapes/Getty Images

The Grand Canyon is hosting a star party this month and includes free entrance to the park and out-of-this-world programming planned throughout several days.

The annual party, which will take place from June 18 to June 25, officially begins at sunset with the best viewing after 9 p.m., according to the National Park Service. Visitors are encouraged to come with a red flashlight, rather than a white one as that can interfere with the viewing.

"Skies will be starry and dark until the moon rises the first night," the NPS wrote on its website. "It rises progressively later throughout the week of the Star Party."

On the South rim, the party kicks off with a Mars Perseverance presentation on June 18 to learn all about the rover that landed on the Red Planet from someone who helped build it, followed by presentations throughout the week on everything from NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to learning how astronauts trained in northern Arizona in the 1960s and 1970s.

Each evening, the NPS will also host a telescope viewing behind the Grand Canyon Visitor Center while park rangers will offer constellation tours. Night sky photography workshops will also be available.

On the North rim, an astronomy-related evening program will be offered at 8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Grand Canyon Lodge and constellation talks will also be given throughout the night. During the day, solar telescopes will also be set up at the lodge.

The Grand Canyon was officially certified as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2019, just in time for the park's 100th anniversary.

Beyond the Grand Canyon, there are plenty of national parks throughout the United States that have amazing stargazing opportunities, including several that have also been certified as Dark Sky Parks like Great Basin National Park in Nevada, Big Bend National Park in Texas, and Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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