There is something inspiring about looking up at the night sky with all its celestial bodies that decorate our landscape. With light pollution caused by urbanization and regular pollution caused by…you know…that’s another story, there is a barrier between our eyes and the night sky above us.
As a result, there are fewer and fewer places in the world to discover the night sky’s brilliance. Thankfully to a huge number of vast open unpopulated deserts in the USA, we will always have a chance to enjoy some of the brightest night skies here. We should also mention non-profit organizations like IDA who protect these spots from urban development and pollution of all kinds which is the ultimate enemy of stargazing.
Now, here the list of the best stargazing places in the US. Our top 6 pick contains most famous and easy-to-get national parks and recreation areas across America where you can see twinkling starts with a naked eye or just using binoculars. You don’t need to carry a 1000-dollar telescope and tripod with you.
1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Arizona’s Grand Canyon goes
first simply because it is one of the most popular places in the world. The
pictures you see online do not really do it justice. Grand Canyon is a
breathtaking sight during the day – now imagine it at night with the stars
and moon lighting up its rocky rims.
- Do not go one the glass bridge if you are afraid of heights.
- It is better to explore Grand Canyon with a local guide from National Park Service if it’s your first time here.
2. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
This is the second largest Canyon in the USA. It’s not well known by many people except national park enthusiasts, but it certainly worth to pay a visit. One of the best stargazing sights for viewing the Milky Way, Black Canyon possesses sites where it’s possible to see up to 15, 000 stars throughout the night.
- The most uncrowded place to visit
- Special astronomy series are offered by the National Park staff
3. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
Have you ever dreamed to stargaze from the top of an old volcano? Or imagine yourself a NASA astronaut?
This is a kind of a task that can be fulfilled only at Craters of the Moon. There is a campground to stay overnight and enjoy the pristine sky. It also fantastic to see during a day if you catch wild flowers blooming among black volcanic ash.
- Come in Spring or Fall (it is very hot in Summer)
- Check the moon status when planning a trip (no moon = more stars)
- The area is NOT dog friendly
4. Glacier National Park, Montana
Glacier National Park is one more site where Milky Way can be seen with a naked eye. This rugged mountain terrain is home not only to dark night skies, people come here to see glacial-carved mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, numerous lakes and stunning views. There are hiking trails of all abilities.
- Purchase bear spray (just in case)
- It is recommended to go early morning to beat road traffic
- Some parts of the Park may be closed due to wildfires
5. Arches National Park in Moab, Utah
This stargazing destination has some of the darkest skies in the country. Arches National Park located closely to the city of Moab that you can even stay at a hotel and still get some amazing experience. But remember: the further you go from the city lights, the clearer the skies will be.
Recommended stargazing areas: Balanced Rock Picnic Area, The Windows Section, Garden of Eden Viewpoint and Panorama Point.
- National Park Service offers special ranger-led stargazing programs
- October and April are less overcrowded and less hot times to visit
6. Afton Canyon Campground, California
The deserts of the USA are so wide and amazing, they provide some of the best campgrounds and stargazing spots in the world. Despite it’s only two hours from Las Vegas and having more light pollution than the mentioned places. Afton Canyon is still one the greatest places where you can get a jaw-dropping experience. This is a perfect choice both for camping and stargazing.
- No reservations available
- The whole area consists of 22 campsites.