Our monthly general meeting is on the 2nd Tuesdays, 7:00PM (except December)
at the Washington Branch Library, 220 N 300 E, Washington, UT.
Star Gazing Locations
Here are some excellent viewing locations in the St. George area where our members find dark skies for good viewing. Whether you live here or are passing through, these places are worth visiting.
- Gunlock State Park: 15 miles northeast of St. George. Campground accepts tents and RVs.
Entrance and camping fee.
- Blackrock Exit: When there was a St. George astronomy club unknown-years ago, they would observe
from the Black Rock exit #27 (Arizona) off I-15, south of town. There's a large pull-off area south of the freeway.
Southern Parkway (SR-7): The new road to the airport (Southern Parkway (SR-7), Exit 2 off I-15) opens up some possibilities too if someone wanted to scout them out. Massive housing development from the I-15 to Exit 2 makes this not feasible anymore.
- Warner Valley: To avoid sand dunes (problems driving) do not approach from St. George.
Instead, from Hurricane, turn south on S 700 W that I turn on. You go around the airport and just keep going south. There’s signs along the road that say Warner Valley when you get out that far. Warner Canyon, entering from Hurricane not through St. George, has a lot of promise. Many places to pull off and set up. I’ve pulled over in
various areas a few times out there. The Fort Pierce area is nice.
I go to the dinosaur track area quite a bit. However, if you don’t have a 4X4 it’s not a good idea to try to get to those areas from St. George.
There’s a sand dune area near the main road on the St. George-side and the winds pick up the sand and drift it across the roadway. It can get pretty deep. I’ve pulled a lot of people out of that sand. They don’t realize it’s about 4-feet deep in places and they think they can get their cars or 2-wheel drive pickups across no problem. Well, it becomes a problem real quick. Going from the Hurricane side presents no problems.
The gravel road on that side is one of those groomed gravel roads. You can go 35-45 miles an hour on that road. Much easier on your equipment, too. You don’t bounce as much as when you plow through the dunes.
- Warner Valley Road Staging Area: AKA the Water Tank, is a reasonably dark spot. Take SR-7 to Exit 10. Go East 1 mile to the very large water tank. Across the road is the staging area. Weekend are busy with dust raising ATV, and target shooters. Best go during the week. Often the better viewing is from behind the water tank. There is access just east of the water tank.
- Red Mountain Trailhead Parking Lot: pretty dark location with minimum sky glow(pollution) from St. George. It is located 200 feet off of the west side of SR-18 half way between Diamond Valley and Damarron Valley.
- Little Black Mountain Petroglyph Area: Good for winter viewing. The site is 10 miles southeast of St. George, Utah. From St. George, travel south on Interstate 15 to Southern Parkway (SR-7).
Travel east on Southern Parkway (SR-7) for three miles to the River Road Exit 3, which is located at the Utah-Arizona state line. Take Quail Hill Road (BLM Road 1069) one-quarter mile south from the Utah-Arizona state line, turn left (east) and follow the signs 4.5 miles to the site. As of 2018 the road is not good for standard cars and timid drivers. Deep moguls up the first hill. The back way in from Hurricane is better except for a few spots deep gulleys that require high center vehicle. So this site is not for timid drivers at night.
- Anasazi trailhead: Good winter viewing: Drive all the way through Santa Clara and continue on 191 past Ivins. Just after a gentle descent, watch for the Anasazi Valley Trailhead sign. Turn left into the dirt road where the stone thingy is holding an iron gate. Drive 0.4 miles and turn into the parking area surrounded by a wooden fence.
Location: N37 09.748 W113 42.379 ( 37°09'44.9"N 113°42'22.7"W )
Upper Sand Cover Reservoir: Good winter site: It was pretty dark there but it was a little chilly there at 4500 feet elevation. Not available anymore since PacifiCorp obtained it.
- Mountain Meadows: Summer site: This isn't a bad site but if you want darker go to Enterprise Reservoir.
- Enterprise Reservoir: Summer site: You can also fish here if you want.
- Kolob Reservoir: Good summer site: At 8000 feet, it is refreshing to cool down there in the summer.
- Cedar Breaks: Summer site: This is nice also but that is an overnight trip. I have heard that people from Cedar City set up near the radar towers in the summer months.
- Fort Pierce: I used to go out there with OAS for our winter star party in February. We had a few problems with four-wheelers and people wanting to party. One year, 2005, it was too muddy so we set up on a flat grassy area to observe. It can get windy out there too. I recall taking my 8 inch Celestron out there one night and the wind kicked up, had trouble observing because my eyes were irratated. I also remember calling the St George Police in 2012 cause some guys were shooting rifles near the Arizona Strip. We saw tracer fire and it felt like we were in a war zone. You have to be careful out in the desert especially on the weekends.
- Outside Virgin: The Virgin site, AKA the cul-de-sac is a good one as long as it is not windy. It is a mile
past the LaVerkin Overlook turnoff going towards Zion National Park on Highway 9. The car lights are not a problem because of the hump.Near the Virgin River. There are several trails out there that are also good.
Exact location: 37°12'9.32"N 113°13'54.26"W
- Maxwell Park: Hildale, UT is about the best location. The gates are chained at sunset. The city will give us a permit if we want to hold a star party there. We had a most excellent educational star party for the Young Youths Camp in September, 2018 during the 2nd Annual SW Astronomy Festival.
- Abandoned Golf Course: Apple Valley. An easy to access popular site for star gazing.
- Elepant Cove Trail Head: Relatively new staging area on old Coral Pink Sand Dunes Rd. Take the Cane Beds, AZ turnoff for about 13 miles.
Exact location: 37.024528, -112.803139
- AZ_Hill(Arizona Strip): There are some good hills a couple miles south of the state line. Most of the main trails are dusty from speeding vehicles. But get off the main trails away from the dust can be excellent star gazing. The caveat is ALL that area of the Arizona Strip south of St. George from I-15 to half way to Little Black Mountain is on AZ State Trust Land, as such requires a permit in advance to trespass. Don't let all the activity down there fool you. While it seems the law is not enforced most of the time; you do not want a surprise visit from the Sheriff with a Misdemeanor Trespass citation. It is your gamble.
Thanks to all the people who have shared their favorite viewing sites.