This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Holiday River Expeditions and Clark Planetarium are teaming up to offer Dark Sky Stargazing Trips from early May until early October 2016.

The mountain biking and whitewater rafting programs will have a night-time focus to identify stars, constellations, planets, galaxies, nebulas, clusters and satellites.

On these expeditions, a Clark Planetarium representative will accompany each trip because the best way to stargaze is to take along a trusted expert.

Here are more few things to consider if you want to get the maximum star gazing experience in the Beehive state.

1. You will have to drive more than a few miles to get to Dark Sky but it's so worth it! Utah has some of the darkest skies on the planet. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has granted Gold-Tier International Dark-Sky Park status to Canyonlands National Park, an honor reserved for the darkest of dark skies and the most stunning of starscapes. Three of the four Holiday River Expedition trips are in Canyonlands National Park which is more than four hours from Salt Lake City by car. "Much of Earth is losing its dark night skies to light pollution and many Americans never have a chance to see the Milky Way. However, the rivers we run, and the trails we bike are all desolate and have some of the darkest night skies on the planet," said Tom Beckett, board chair of Clark Planetarium and part-time guide for Holiday River Expeditions.

2. You need energy to get to the best stargazing. To see the darkest skies on the planet you need to burn some calories to get there either by river rafting or biking. An athletic beginner in good physical shape can do the mountain biking trips because 85% of the route is easy rolling, hard surface terrain. You will be biking 25 miles each day with some climbing and steep ascents and descents. It's well worth it! In recent years, an increasing number of the guests on Holiday River Expeditions' desolate bike trips look up at the Milky Way on moonless nights and say that they've never seen anything so beautiful in their lives. If you choose one of the river rafting trips, you will spend 4 to 7 hours per day on the river exploring ancient side-canyons and facing some of the biggest whitewater in North America. With binoculars and the naked eye guests explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn the constellations at night.

3. Five star camping meals. Do you really want to cook your own food on vacation? Your guide will prep your meals on these expeditions and prepare your morning coffee and tea. There is always a hot breakfast option such as blueberry pancakes, bacon, omelettes, hash browns, cinnamon rolls. Lunches are deli style including turkey sandwiches, chicken caesar salad wraps and mediterranean quinoa salad. Snacks include fresh fruit, peanuts, raisins and chips. For dinner there's dutch oven lasagna, chicken fajitas, steak, dutch oven au gratin potatoes, fresh salads and desserts. The guides will do your dishes too.

4. Sleeping under the stars is not mandatory. Guests can sleep in their tent or one that has been rented from us. Guests can bring their own camping gear or rent. They are usually on sleeping pads, in a sleeping bag if they want to sleep out under the stars.

5. Stargazing is for non-swimmers and youngest too. Depending on the trip, children between the ages of 8 to 14 can be guests , These stargazing trips are where memories are made. Don't rule out a friend of family member from the river rafting trip because they don't know how to swim. Life jackets are provided and your guide is trained in first aid and river safety. The length of time on the river depends on the camp sites and how much time is needed for activities during the day such as lunch and side hikes. River miles each day can vary from 10 to 20 depending on where the camp is each night. The Lodore Canyon river rafting trip will flow through Dinosaur National Monument, currently recognized by the National Park Service as a "Sanctuary of Natural Darkness. Your nights will open up a whole new world. Using both binoculars and the naked eye, we will explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn constellations.

Clark Planetarium is one of the world's leading centers for space and science education. Clark Planetarium's mission is to create and present stimulating educational programs that effectively share astronomy and space exploration information with Salt Lake County residents, Utah students, educators and families, and visitors from around the country and the world

Holiday River Expeditions began in 1966, when Dee Holladay and his wife Sue took the plunge to become river outfitters. Due to its respect for the lands, rivers, guests and employees, the family-owned-and-operated company has grown exponentially. Each of its guides is professionally trained in first aid and river safety, and with 50 years of experience, the company provides guests the opportunity to explore the nation's wild lands safely and securely. Holiday River Expeditions has a commitment to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.

For more information, availability, reservations or a copy of the 2016 catalog please call 800-624-6323, Email: Holiday@BikeRaft.com or log onto: http://www.bikeraft.com/.

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