When the mid-afternoon heat of a blazing summer day finds you sticky, sweaty and hiding in the shade, it’s easy to wish that fall would just hurry up and come already. But if you spend the entire season lying on the couch in front of a fan, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of summer: balmy summer nights. After the sun sets and velvety nighttime falls, there are lots of fun things to do while the crickets chirp, from outdoor movie screenings to stargazing, and moonlit hiking to concerts under the stars—no gooey sunscreen required.
On Monday evenings in July, the Utah Film Center will present a free film series titled Noir at Night, where you can become acquainted with veteran directors such as Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo, July 15) and Orson Welles (Touch of Evil, July 22), or bring the whole family to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (July 29), a Disney comedy-thriller that spoofs the film-noir genre. All five screenings will be held at the Gallivan Center (220 S. State) and begin at dusk. Or, spread a blanket on the grass to watch free screenings of classic James Bond movies at the Pioneer Park Picture Show (300 West & Broadway) during the evenings of Aug. 2, 9, 16 and 23.
Resorts by Night
Utah’s mountains are a welcome cool respite from the heat of summer. Bring a picnic and a bottle of wine to one of the many outdoor concerts at the Deer Valley Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater (2250 Deer Valley Drive South, Park City, 435-649-1000) scheduled for evenings throughout the summer, starting June 19. Catch musical acts both local (Holy Water Buffalo, July 3) and national (Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, July 15)—visit DeerValley.com for a complete list of performers, times, dates and ticket prices. For a romantic date, head to Snowbasin Resort (3925 E. Snowbasin Road, Huntsville, Snowbasin.com) on Saturday nights starting June 15 for a moonlit gondola ride (lift tickets are $10) followed by a cozy dinner at the high-elevation Needles Lodge—call 801-620-1000 for reservations. And don’t forget about scenic nighttime hiking—just bring a flashlight or headlamp.
Watch the full moon sparkle on the Great Salt Lake at the 20th-annual Antelope by Moonlight Bike Ride on July 19. The noncompetitive, family-friendly ride starts at Antelope Island State Park’s (4528 W. 1700 South, Syracuse) White Rock Bay at 10 p.m. (check-in starts at 7:30 p.m.). The 24-mile route will take riders to the historical Fielding Garr Ranch and back. All participants are required to use a headlight, taillight and reflectors, and you can dress up your bike or yourself for a chance to win prizes. Register for $25 per person before noon on July 12 at www.co.davis.ut.us/go/moonlight.
Wish Upon a Star
If you’re looking for the perfect spot to do some serious stargazing, you’re in luck. According to NASA Ambassador to Utah Patrick Wiggins, “When it comes to the night sky, we here in Utah are truly blessed. Just about any place you go so long as it’s a fair distance away from urban light pollution is a great place to go.” If you’re not comfortable heading into the wilderness alone, Wiggins recommends joining one of the many local astronomy clubs, where seasoned space-lookers are happy to help newbies operate a telescope and locate celestial bodies. The Salt Lake Astronomical Society hosts free public star parties at various locations (SLAS.us), and the University of Utah’s Department of Physics & Astronomy (115 S. 1400 East, 801-587-7223, Utah.edu/astro) opens its observatory to the public for free every clear Wednesday night. Wiggins himself also provides a number of astronomy programs throughout the summer at Bryce Canyon (NPS.gov/brca), where 7,500 stars are visible on a clear night.
Sparkling City Views
If you’re looking for a bird’s-eye view of the sunset, city lights or firework displays, head to Ensign Peak, north of the Utah Capitol. After an easy half-mile hike—which winds around the back of the mountain and approaches the peak from the north—you’ll be able to look down upon the entire Salt Lake Valley, as well as a large portion of the Great Salt Lake. For driving directions to the trailhead, visit Utah.com/hike/ensign-peak-trail.