People who want to go stargazing without spending most of the night listening to nearby crowds and campsites can explore certain places that offer more than others. There are plenty of such locations around the USA that offer empty parks and glimmering skies. Here are some of the best out there.
Beautiful Locations for Stargazing
Natural Bridges National Monument, located in Utah, is a remarkable testament to the forces of wind and water over millions of years. Through their relentless erosion, they have sculpted natural bridges that offer a unique connection between Earth and the sky. This remote and secluded destination provides an unparalleled stargazing experience under some of the darkest skies in the world. The area became the state’s first national monument in 1908. In 2007, it received the prestigious certification as the first International Dark Sky Park. Its reputation is well-deserved as the constellations here shine so brightly that they cast shadows on the ground. This means that anyone stargazing there can see up to 15,000 stars with the naked eye, compared to the mere 500 visible in most urban areas.
While the park attracts approximately 100,000 visitors during the day, few choose to stay past sunset to witness the true spectacle that unfolds. As darkness descends, the natural bridges take on an ethereal quality, and the sky becomes a mesmerizing canvas of celestial wonders. The highlight of the experience is undoubtedly the sight of the Milky Way rising over the Owachomo Bridge, creating a breathtaking scene.
Stargazing Done in Peace
Traveling to Texas, Big Bend National Park offers a different but equally captivating stargazing opportunity. Located far from any major city, this vast national park boasts some of the lowest levels of light pollution in the contiguous United States. Its remote location, combined with its status as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography, geology, and ecology, makes it an ideal destination for astronomy enthusiasts.
The Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park provide a stunning backdrop for stargazing and astrophotography. The absence of artificial light allows for clear views of star trails and other astronomical phenomena. On rare occasions, visitors may even be treated to a rare glimpse of the northern lights from this remarkable vantage point.
New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park is renowned for its connection to the cosmos. This area has ideal conditions for stargazing, including high altitudes, low population densities, and dry climates. The park offers evening lectures on the constellations and their significance to the Puebloan people who inhabited the region centuries ago. These educational talks provide a deeper understanding of the interstellar wonders visible from this remarkable park.
Lastly, nestled within the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve stands as one of only two International Dark Sky Reserves in the United States. This expansive reserve covers Blaine, Boise, Custer, and Elmore counties, as well as several towns. The region’s commitment to preserving natural darkness has made it one of the last bastions of unpolluted nighttime skies in the country.
During the day, visitors to the reserve can enjoy a range of outdoor activities, from skiing and white water rafting to backpacking and hiking. However, it is the transition from day to night that reveals the true magic of this place. As the sun sets, the skies come alive with countless stars, planets, and galaxies, offering a breathtaking display that captivates all who witness it.