RV Road Trip

How to Find the Ultimate Stargazing Sites

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RV Road Trip

When You Wish Upon a Star

Besides campfires, our absolute favorite nighttime camping activity is stargazing. Very few things are as awe-inspiring as staring up at the night sky, and if we happen to be camping in the middle of nowhere, that sky is darker than usual, making the stars and planets even more visible and creating a magical view that we simply cannot get enough of. 

This article originally appeared on RVshare.com.

starry sky
Ozan Ericok/istockphoto

Star Light, Star Bright

In fact, there are some stargazing locations that are even better than the typical campground. These are the places that have taken steps to proactively reduce their impact on the night sky by finding ways to reduce light pollution in the area.

Parks and other natural areas that make a point of doing this are recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association, an Arizona-based nonprofit that is committed to protecting and preserving the world’s night skies. These spots make for the best stargazing sites in the U.S. (and beyond), and we highly recommend checking out as many as possible. 

Not sure where to go stargazing? Below are some of our favorite IDA-recognized locations. These places simply can’t be beat when it comes to their night skies.

Related: 10 Essential Camping Flashlights & Lanterns 

Big Bend National Park Night Sky

Big Bend National Park | Texas

With incredible vistas and some of the most beautiful hiking trails in the Lone Star State, Big Bend National Park is a gorgeous sight to see during the day. That said, the place becomes even more magical at night when the sky becomes a pitch-black canvas dotted by sharp points of light created by the stars and planets. 

Related: Stunning Photos of Every National Park in America

Glacier National Park Night Stars Reflection in Scenic Lake Montana

Glacier National Park | Montana

It doesn’t get much more remote than Glacier National Park. That’s why this incredible park offers such great stargazing. The sky becomes so dark that the mountains — which stand so tall and mighty during the day — are swallowed up by blackness as stars are reflected in the lakes found throughout the park.

Related: 20 Free Adventures at National Parks

Stargaze at the Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon National Park | Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park is one of those sights that must be seen to be believed. In the daylight, it is absolutely awe-inspiring and the inspiration for many works of art. That said, nighttime brings a new kind of beauty to this incredible place. We recommend watching the sunset behind the canyon and sticking around afterward for some of the most incredible stargazing you’ll ever experience. 

Related: 19 Money-Saving Tips for Visiting National Parks

Death Valley Stargazing

Death Valley National Park | California

With a name like Death Valley, one wouldn’t expect to see much life in this national park. This is far from the truth. During the day, a few creatures can be seen wandering about. However, it’s during the nighttime hours that the park really comes to life, with coyotes, bats, and other nocturnal creatures wandering the grounds. Fortunately, the stars and moon shine especially brightly against the incredibly dark sky, lighting the way for these creatures of the night and offering some awesome views. 

Related: Explore the Best National Parks in Every State

Great Basin National Park
Elizabeth M. Ruggiero/istockphoto

Great Basin National Park | Nevada

It may not be the most popular national park out there — many have never even heard of it — but Great Basin National Park has a lot to offer. Whether you’re looking for great hiking or amazing cave tours, you’re sure to enjoy your time here. Not only that, but the bright stars and planets, incredibly dark nights, and wide open spaces make for some of the best stargazing in the country. 

Related: 31 Bucket-List Experiences in America's National Parks

Great Sand Dunes, Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve | Colorado

Very few things are more fun than sledding the sand dunes of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Additionally, very few things are more relaxing than finishing off a busy day of sledding by stargazing while still in the park. The high altitude of this park works alongside the lack of light pollution to create some seriously spectacular nighttime scenery you won’t want to stop staring at. 

Related: Don't Miss 19 of America's Most Underrated National Parks

Mount Katahdin fall colors
Dylan Brett/istockphoto

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument | Maine

If you’re located on the eastern side of the country, this one’s for you. Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is our favorite northeastern stargazing location, and we are certain you’ll love it too. Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and canoeing can be enjoyed in this park during the day, but it’s the incredible night sky this park offers that really fascinates us and draws us in. 

Idaho Night Sky

Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve | Idaho

The only U.S. reserve dedicated purely to preserving the night sky, Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve is just as amazing as it sounds. Located in the spectacular Sawtooth Mountains, this reserve encompasses a full 1,500 square miles, meaning guests have plenty of room to spread out as they bask in the blackness of the night sky, gaze in wonder at the stars and planets, and contemplate the immense size of the universe. 

Cherry Springs State Park

Cherry Springs State Park | Pennsylvania

Another great East Coast stargazing spot, Cherry Springs State Park may not be an NPS site or a preserve, but it is recognized by the IDA and is well worth seeing. The astronomy observation field in the park offers a 360-degree view of the incredible night sky. Additionally, those visiting during the fall and winter months might even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

Related: The State Park You Don't Want to Miss in Every State

Stephen C. Foster State Park

Stephen C. Foster State Park | Georgia

Finally, there is Stephen C. Foster State Park. This is the best place for southeastern night sky enthusiasts to see the beauty of the universe. The park is incredibly remote, meaning there is almost no light pollution to ruin the view. Be sure to take a blanket to lay on while you observe the constellations as they twinkle above. 

Related: How to Find Places to Boondock or Free Park in Your RV

Aurora Sky RV

Shine On

Now that you know where to see the stars, the next step is to plan a stargazing trip. Wondering when to plan your getaway? The days before and after the new moon are ideal for stargazing, as they offer the darkest nights. You’ll also need someplace to stay during your trip. Since the best stargazing locations are remote, an RV that can be taken to the most removed locations is the ideal lodging option. Check out our RV rental units here to find one that will work for you on your stargazing quest.

Related: 10 Cheap Places to Stay Near Major National Parks