11 Must-See Stops on the American Stargazing Tour
Want to really see stars? The key to really enjoying a dazzling night of stargazing is finding a remote place with little to no light pollution. If you’re in pursuit of incredible stargazing, these destinations are worth the journey.
1. Death Valley National Park, CA
Death Valley is below sea level and produces very little artificial light, and with over 3 million acres of wilderness, the park gets really dark at night! The valley can be either very hot or very cold depending on the season, so make sure you go during the spring or fall to enjoy moderate overnight temperatures.
2. Natural Bridges National Monument, UT
If you’re in the neighborhood of the Four Corners, consider stopping by the Natural Bridges for a peek at some incredibly vivid stars. The monument features three bridges that were naturally formed from water erosion; the largest is 225 feet across. The giant bridges nicely frame the incredible view of the stars.
3. Cherry Springs State Park, PA
Named after its abundant black cherry trees, this park is one of the best in Pennsylvania for viewing the night sky. So many campers and astronomers come for the great view of the stars and Milky Way that the park even hosts two star parties a year.
4. Goldendale Observatory State Park, WA
If you’re more serious about your stargazing, you can become one of the 40,000 annual visitors at the Goldendale Observatory. The observatory boasts the country’s largest public telescopes, so visitors can enjoy some incredible magnified views of the night sky.
5. Clayton Lake State Park, NM
This New Mexico park is great for fans of both stargazing and dinosaurs. Park-goers can walk the same path as dinosaurs did around 100 million years ago on a pathway featuring around 500 fossilized dinosaur tracks. At night, the Star Point Observatory offers a public telescope to explore the heavens.
6. Observatory Park, OH
This park is one of the few places left in Ohio that hasn’t been impacted by light pollution. It’s fairly new; the land was only acquired by the Geauga Park District in 2003. Since then, it has been a popular spot to photograph the sky and watch meteor showers.
7. Big Bend National Park, TX
This national park features deep canyons, large rivers, and more land than Rhode Island. The Hot Springs outside of Rio Grande Village are a favorite for enjoying thousands of stars, planets, and the Andromeda Galaxy. While you’re in Big Bend country, also check out the mysterious Marfa Lights. Sometimes called ghost lights, some viewers believe these strange, unexplained lights are paranormal.
8. Blue Ridge Observatory and Star Park, NC
This star hotbed is the first Dark Sky Park in the Southeast. The observatory has a 34-inch telescope open to the public, and visitors can take advantage of the lack of artificial light and enjoy the glow of the Milky Way.
9. Parashant National Monument, AZ
Unlike most of the other parks on this list, this one does not offer any visitor center or resources, but it sure is dark. Located next to the Grand Canyon, this remote park is perfect for seeing the pristine sky. The park is free for visitors, and campers can stay for up to 14 days.
10. San Luis Valley, CO
Located right by Alamosa, this desert area features a quirky tourist attraction called the UFO Watchtower. It has been rumored to be a popular spot for paranormal activity and multiple UFO sightings. Visitors of the tower are provided with information about previous sightings and possible theories. Thanks to very little light pollution, there’s plenty to see, even if you don’t spot any aliens.
11. Headlands, MI
Visitors of the Headlands can enjoy dark skies and over two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The water offers a unique landscape for enjoying the sky. In October, the park hosts a Halloween challenge asking park-goers to walk a mile in darkness to a cabin for fortune telling and scary stories.
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