The best scenic views are often in the night sky.
Jul 25, 2023
One of the most beautiful sites you can encounter on vacation is not found by scenic view road signs, or even by the ocean or on top of a mountain. It is in the night sky where you can see the constellations, the Milky way, planets, and shooting stars.
But if you live in an urban area, it may not be possible to see the stars, according to Time Out. That’s because over 99 percent of people in the US and Europe live under light-polluted skies.
But there are a myriad of spots where you can stargaze that are only short distances from major cities. Some of these places have been named International Dark Sky Parks for their low light pollution. Here is a collection of seven best places to visit for an amazing stargazing vacation.
Big Bend National Park
his Southwest Texas national park is located near the Mexican border. Big Bend is a massive park that spans 800,000 acres and is a protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology. There is so little light pollution that the park is one of the best spots for you to stargaze.
Besides beautiful nights in Big Bend amongst the cacti, there are plenty of other attractions including camping, the Chicos Mountain Lodge, hiking, rafting or kayaking, as well as ranger led programs for kids.
Voyageurs National Park
Minnesota is known as the land of 14,000 lakes and this water-based national park is a great place to explore this unique environment, according to Real Simple. There are hundreds of campsites to stay in. During the day you can go boating or fishing or hike the trails but spend your evenings viewing the starry skies. Make sure to check out NASA’s sky calendar before your vacation so you can increase your chances of viewing the northern lights.
Death Valley National Park
This isolated 5,000-mile desert national park in California features amazing views both day and night. The skies are so dark here that it has been classified a Gold Tier dark sky park. You can spot astronomical objects here that are so rare that they can only be seen at the darkest locations. There is a Dark Sky Festival held every spring.
Death Valley has many exciting things to do during the day and most of the park can be accessed by car, hiking, backpacking, and mountain biking. You can explore nearby attractions like the Rhyolite ghost town, the Manzanar historic site, and the Ash Meadow wildlife refuge.
Grand Canyon National Park
This extremely popular destination in Arizona is one of the best places to stargaze in the US. There are plenty of campgrounds and lodges to stay at, as well as back-county camping in the Grand Canyon. Enjoy yourself hiking and sightseeing by day, taking a mule ride to the bottom of the canyon, visiting a museum, but save your evenings to watch nature’s greatest show
One of the best places to stargaze in the US is Mauna Kea, a dormant volcano in Hawaii, according to the travel site Contiki. The volcano is the highest point in the state and features an observatory and stargazing courses for beginners. During the day, enjoy the beautiful beaches. Go snorkeling and visit the Mauna Kea state park. But save your evenings for the stars.
Redwood National Park
The coast of California is a nature lover’s dream vacation, according to Time Out. You can see the largest trees in America growing in temperate rainforests that are preserved in the national and state parks in the area, hike, visit beautiful beaches, and much more during the day. Enjoy your evenings for stargazing in this low light pollution national park.
Canyonlands National Park
This magnificent park features countless canyons carved by the Colorado River. With its panoramic views and 337,000 acres of desert landscape, it is also one of the best places to view the night sky. That’s why it has been names a Gold-Tier dark sky park.
Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.