Utah Trip – Group Travel | Atlas Obscura Trips
Photo Credit: Stephen Walker
Photo Credit: Lauren Pandolfi
Photo Credit: Thomas Shellberg

Desert Astronomy: Canyonlands & Arches

from $1,330 USD per person for 4 days, 3 nights
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  • 10 People Maximum
  • Moderate Activity Level
  • Outdoor Expedition
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Trip Overview

Amidst the sea of giant, red rocks that have come to characterize Canyonlands National Park, you might spot a strange, horseshoe-like formation—as if swirled into existence by some massive, mountain-moving tornado. While the origin of this strange site, Upheaval Dome, has been shrouded in scientific mystery, the answer may come from outer space.

Join us on an interplanetary adventure through Arches and Canyonlands national parks, where, alongside experts, we’ll learn why this geologically stunning space holds a special connection to the cosmos. We’ll hike past rocks that double as Mars analogs, examine unusual desert microbes, and encounter mysterious meteor sites. At night, we’ll venture into the depths of the desert, where we’ll sprawl out beneath a blanket of stars and watch the Perseids streak across the dark, vast sky.

  • The Perseid meteor shower
  • Desert stargazing
  • Stunning Desert Landscapes
  • Moab culture & cuisine


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Trip Leader

Emily Hoff and Maygen Keller
Emily Hoff and Maygen Keller are the authors of the upcoming book, Scenic Science of the National Parks (Penguin Random House, Spring 2020). They’ve spent years traveling and researching the incredible science that exists in almost every corner of national parks across the U.S., and they can’t wait to share their findings with you! You can see what they’ve been up to recently on Instagram: @drivingcuriosity.

Additional Info

Pricing & Single Accommodations

The total cost of this trip is $1,330. For those traveling by themselves, single accommodations can be provided, subject to availability, at an additional cost of $275. Please contact us to request a single room.

Arrival & Departure

Our trip begins with a welcome dinner in Moab on Day 1. We recommend you arrive in Moab by 2 p.m. on Day 1 so you can settle into your hotel and meet with the group for dinner. Our trip concludes in the afternoon on Day 4. If you’re planning to leave Utah by air directly after our trip, we recommend booking a flight departing any time during the evening of our final day. If you'd like to extend your trip, we’d be more than happy to provide suggestions for things to do and see on your own.

Activity Level

Travelers should feel comfortable walking two to three miles each day, climbing stairs, hiking, and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. Keep in mind that Moab is hot in the summer, so we don’t recommend this trip for anyone who is particularly sensitive to heat.

  • Daily breakfasts, daily lunches, and two dinners.
  • Travel within Utah will be provided by local shuttle companies.
  • Authors and guides Maygen and Emily to accompany you throughout the trip, as well as special guests.
  • Three nights of accommodation at the Expedition Lodge in Moab.
  • Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that the region has to offer!
  • Transportation to and from Moab.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including most alcoholic beverages.
  • Applying for a US visa, if applicable.
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Trip FAQ

By visiting Canyonlands and Arches, you'll be directly supporting the preservation of the national parks and the ecosystems they support through park fees. As you gain new insights about the importance of protecting natural places, you’ll learn how to visit the parks in a safe (for you and for the park itself) and appropriate way, while deepening your relationship with our planet and larger universe. You can increase your impact by sharing your experience with those who are interested in respectfully visiting public lands and taking in the wonders of the night sky.

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Upcoming Departures

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