Dark Sky Park
4335 N. Highway 191
Vernal, UT 84078 USA
Steinaker State Park is located 11 km (7 miles) north of the city of Vernal in Uintah County, Utah, U.S. Named for area ranching pioneer John Steinaker, the Park highlights a manmade lake fed by Ashley Creek behind Steinaker Dam, a 609-meter (1,997-foot) long earthfill dam completed in 1962. The Park’s situation at 1,700 meters (5,500 feet) elevation near the foot of the Uinta Mountains brings an arid climate with hot summers and cold winters. Well-known to naturalists and fossil hunters, the area brims with a large diversity of plant and animal species. Steinaker’s location makes it a popular base for exploring both Dinosaur National Monument to the east and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area to the north.
The Park’s remote location in a little-developed part of the state of Utah has kept its night skies relatively dark. The nearest significant source of light, Vernal, is effectively screened by topography to the Park’s south. Besides a small light dome from the town of Dinosaur, Colorado, to the Park’s east, much of its horizon is protected by an expanse of the Ashley National Forest to the north and west. This makes Steinaker a relatively defensible location that is readily accessible to the public at night. The Park has involved itself in area efforts to rein in light pollution, and increasingly offers nighttime programming to visitors who come to marvel at the night sky in such unspoiled conditions.