8 Spots In The U.S. Where The Night Sky Is Prime For Stargazing
Wondering where to find the darkest skies in the country for the best stargazing ever? We know where you should go.
In fact, there’s a set measurement that can tell you how great your view of the night sky will be in a certain location (clouds TBD, of course). It’s called an International Dark Sky Association International Dark Sky Park (IDSP), and it’s awarded to destinations with “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights.” And in the United States, we have more than 40 of them. These spots are removed from the light pollution of bright city lights so you have a pretty good chance of staring up at the Milky Way and seeing a million little twinkling lights in extraordinary clarity — the kind of views that are usually invisible to the naked eye when we’re in the middle of big urban centers. We picked eight of the best stargazing places in the U.S. that’ll make you want to pack a picnic blanket and a telescope and watch the skies for hours.
1. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado
The entire expanse of this park has little to no artificial lighting and what’s there has been specially engineered to not mess with your night sky viewing. And it’s dark; even during the day, there are places in the canyon that the sun never hits.
2. Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania
Located inside the massive Susquehannock State Forest, Cherry Springs has a special astronomy field that offers 360-degree views of the heavens. You’ll get views in Pennsylvania that would make even a Rocky Mountain resident jealous.
3. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona
Mile upon mile of the Grand Canyon is untouched by humans, meaning the night sky is intensely dark. The National Park Service actually has a special slogan for the Grand Canyon: Half the park is after dark.
4. Death Valley National Park in California
You already know Death Valley is remote and desolate, making it ideal for stargazing. It’s almost like looking at the desert sky before humans took over the surrounding landscapes and ruined the views with bright sprawls of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
5. Capitol Reef National Park in Utah
The main attraction at Capital Reef is the Waterpocket Fold, a giant rock formation that used to be a huge problem for early settlers crossing into California. Now, it’s a gorgeous backdrop for watching the stars.
6. Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
If you don’t want to battle the crowds at the Grand Canyon, try nearby Bryce. The landscape is more varied than its more famous neighbor and we think it’s just as stunning. We’d suggest camping for the full effect.
7. Newport State Park in Wisconsin
An underrated state entirely, Wisconsin’s North Woods are hiding some out-of-this-world natural retreats. And even better, the far-removed wilderness is nowhere near any big cities so you’ll have unobstructed views of the sky.
8. Denali National Park in Alaska
Although not an IDSP, Denali’s high altitude and northern location give you not only great starry night-scapes, but also potential to see the granddaddy of celestial events: the northern lights.