When we think of things to do in Yosemite National Park, too often we limit ourselves to things done during the day: Stand at the base of El Capitan and look up; Summit Half Dome; gape at Bridalveil Fall.
But when planning your trip, don’t forget about the wonders Yosemite holds after the sun sets, most notably taking some time to check out the night sky.
The national parks in general and Yosemite in particular are known as some of the last great spaces without significant light pollution. That translates into an incredible opportunity to do some stargazing, get a glimpse of the Milky Way and maybe even look for a foreign galaxy or two.
“(In the cities and suburbs,) the light pollution is so intense. Until you leave that setting and go out to a place where there is a dark night sky you have no idea what you’re missing,” park ranger Lisa Murphy said in a Yosemite Nature Notes video.
National park officials are working to keep the night skies dark through light pollution monitoring with digital imagery of the horizons.
Take a Stargazing Tour
Take a cosmic voyage as you lay beneath the stars in Yosemite Valley. See seasonal evening program specifics such as times and meeting places on the NPS Yosemite Guide www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/guide.htm. Book your tickets at www.travelyosemite.com/things-to-do/evening-programs/
Attend a Summer Stargazing Party
Star Parties are held at Glacier Point and are sponsored by local astronomer clubs. Drop in most Saturdays during June, July and August.
Winter Stargazing at Bass Lake
South of Yosemite, stargaze at the Milky Way in the High Sierra along the shores of Bass Lake. Enjoy the soft sounds of nature while taking in the brilliant glow and twinkle of the stars overhead. Be sure to bring a warm snuggly blanket, some hot cocoa and great company to share this activity with. (www.basslakechamber.com)