“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
13. Blue Ridge Parkway (North Carolina)
We leave this one up as an entire section of the Blue Ridge Parkway because there are way too many options in North Carolina to pick just one. While our personal favorite is the picturesque view of the stars from Raven’s Roost, there are a ton of other options along the parkway. What makes particular stretches of the parkway so scenic is the fact that it’s located in one of the more mountainous, beautiful regions of the country and the light pollution is at a minimum.
Don’t try to limit yourself to just one area when taking in the night sky, though. We recommend spending a whole week of camping in the area because there are way too many areas to choose from. To be fair, there are a ton of different areas in the Smoky Mountains that are void of excess light pollution, so the location you decide upon is up to you. Just make sure to stop by Raven’s Roost one night. You’ll be glad you did.
12. Headlands Dark Sky Park (Michigan)
One might not think of Michigan as the right state to be checking out stars, but any area near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is golden when it comes to taking in views of the night sky. Far-detached from the lights of the major cities in the southern part of the state, Headlands Dark Sky Park is one of the handful of International Dark Sky Parks in America.
A Dark Sky Park is an area that is completely free of any artificial lights; meaning that any area within the park is perfect for witnessing astronomical events. The show won’t disappoint, either. Some fans of the park argue that there’s no better place in the country to witness a meteor shower, and with skies a clear as this it’s hard to argue against it. The stars shining above the lake are heavenly.
11. New Mexico Skies (New Mexico)
Sometimes a place sets you up to see the astronomic wonders of the sky without you having to do any of the labor, and that’s exactly the case at New Mexico Skies. This community of little telescopes is actually located within an enclave that’s in New Mexico’s most impressive dark sky region. In fact, you may want to bring your own food, because the nearest small town is really tiny, and it’s a little removed from the telescopes.
At an elevation of seven-thousand three-hundred feet, New Mexico Skies easily has the highest altitude of any other place on this list. Well, unless you climb to the top of one of the mountains in Denali, and that just makes you a badass. Whether you’re wanting to simply take in the view with the naked eye or look through the telescopes, this place gives you options, and the view is fantastic.
10. Acadia National Park (Maine)
Maine is already known for being a little detached from the high-traffic areas in other parts of the country, which makes it perfect for anyone looking for an escape inside America. What most people don’t think about when they think about main, however, is the fact that there are hardly any major cities in the entire state, which bring light pollution to extremely low, and Acadia National Park is situated perfectly for optimal stargazing.
Nestled among the pines and a rolling stretch of beaches, Acadia offers some of the more picturesque views in America. We recommend visiting in the fall, when the foliage is changing colors. Spending a night out in the chilly woods with a few friends, beside a fire and under the Milky Way makes for memories that will last a lifetime. Just be prepared for some philosophical conversations, because they’re bound to happen in a place like this.
9. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
Badlands is already well-known for its natural beauty and unique landscape. But put that landscape up in front of one of the best views of the night sky in America and it takes things to a whole new level of awesome. After a day of scoping out Mount Rushmore and taking a few hikes throughout the area, you should stick around for a night of camping out in the wilderness.
Being far separated from any real major city, the Badlands have a reputation for being one of the more rugged areas of the country, but it adds character to the landscape. The most rugged landscapes sometimes give way to true beauty, and that’s certainly the case here, where the Milky Way and millions of stars seem to be well within reach when looking up into the heavens.
8. Haleakala Crater (Hawaii)
Sure, you should definitely go to Hawaii to discover a land most are pretty unfamiliar with. With the Oahu being highly populated, however, you need to venture to one of the lesser-known islands to be able to take in the beauty of the night sky, and Maui is perfect for that. The area surrounding Haleakala Crater is both beautiful and serene. The lush foliage around is beautiful as is, but you have to take in the night sky from the area.
While the giant telescope in Hawaii is quite recognizable, many wouldn’t think that it’s also the perfect spot for catching some beautiful views of the Milky Way after catching some waves, but it is. We won’t blame you if you don’t really come to Hawaii just to look at stars, but you should at least take the time to walk out and look up if you happen to be on Oahu.
7. Glacier National Park (Montana)
Glacier National Park is consistently rated among the Top Five National Parks in America for a reason, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that it offers the full package. Not only does it offer unique experiences and views that other parks don’t, but it also contains a landscape that’s not available outside of the continental United States. While the glacier is quickly receding as a result of global warming, there’s still time to capture this park in its natural splendor.
Take our advice and watch the sunset over the mountains and then stay patient and take the time to slowly watch the stars come out. This is the perfect time to either enjoy some time with that special someone or simply do some personal mediation. By the time night has settled in, a blanket of stars will be overhead, twinkling in their natural splendor.
6. Death Valley (California)
One of the most desolate places on earth is also one of the most beautiful, and that’s never truer than in the darkest nights. Hot, arid days give way to cold, breezy nights in the summer, and those moving rocks you always hear about will be the absolute last thing you want to look at once the sun goes down. The best news is that the sky stays clear on most nights, and the results are consistent with the image below.
The silence and lack of civilization in this barren stretch of desert allows you to really focus in on the constellations. We will say that it gets pretty chilly at night, so you might want to bundle up before heading out here; even in the middle of the summer. The red and orange rocks stand out against the dark sky, and make this an experience that is both awe-inspiring and humbling. Yup, we really are just floating around on a little ball in space. It’s true.
5. Denali National Park (Alaska)
First off, Denali National Park needs to be visited even before the night sets in. The snowy peaks of the surrounding mountains is absolutely amazing, and you haven’t lived until you’ve visited. The real show, however, is when the stars begin to shine above the snow-capped mountains. There’s no state in America with as little light pollution as Alaska, and that makes for some of the best night skies in the world.
Not only does the state get more hours of darkness than the rest of the country during certain times of the year, but it also provides the best views of the Aurora Borealis. These lights are a spectacle that are impossible to truly describe outside of seeing them in person, and the blanket of stars behind them only adds to this effect. If you’re going somewhere to see the Northern Lights, go to Denali.
4. Big Pine Key (Florida)
What’s more romantic than a night under the palm trees of Florida? A night under the palms on a clear night in Big Pine Key. With the waves rushing in high tide and the closest major city over one-hundred miles away, Big Pine Key is quite the escape from the tourist traps in the bustling parts of mainland Florida. On the perfect night, there won’t be many people around and you may even have the beach all to yourself.
The most amazing part is that there aren’t even many hotels on this key, which means you won’t have to worry about many distractions or tourists ruining the tranquility of the night. One of the lone options for lodgings is the Barnacle Bed & Breakfast, which is never over-saturated with people. A night under the stars on the sands of the Atlantic is absolutely amazing. Just sit back and let nature give you a show.
3. Owachomo Bridge (Utah)
Located within Natural Bridges National Monument, Owachomo Bridge almost seems to provide a glimpse into the past. On a silent night, when no one else is around, it almost seems like the rest of the world has slipped into the past as you stand below the natural bridge, which have been a part of the landscape for centuries.
From below the bridge actual looks like it was meant to fit in with the rest of the sky above. Crossing paths with the Milky Way, it’s both fascinating and impressive at the same time. There isn’t a major city anywhere within well over two-hundred miles, and nature is the only companion to the stars in a place that’s this far separated from the rest of the world around it. Make sure to bring some camping gear. You’re going to want to be under the stars for while out here.
2. Cherry Springs State Park (Pennsylvania)
Oh, Cherry Springs State Park, your views never cease to amaze. The Milky Way glows brighter than ever from the darkest regions of this park, which is arguably the most impressive of all the dark sky regions within the country. While there, you can see more stars and other celestial bodies than almost anywhere else in the country with the naked eye.
If you’re lucky enough to get there on a calm night, some of the local lakes will nearly resemble a reflecting pool, and the stars will shimmer beautifully in both the sky and the lake. Even if that’s not the case, you can just lay on your back and admire from between the trees. Even when it’s cold out, it makes it seem like the air is a little fresher and the sky a little clearer.
1. Joshua Tree National Park (California)
There’s an air of impenetrable silence that falls over Joshua Tree National Park in the wee hours of the night, and it brings a sense of peace to all who get to experience it. On the most perfect of nights, there isn’t a cloud in the sky and the wind will be completely silent. It will only be you, the sand below, and the heavens above. This sense of serenity is the main reason why so many keep coming back to Joshua Tree National Park to view the stars.
While California is a pretty well-lit state, there are a few places that get a chance to escape from the bright lights of Los Angles, San Diego, and the Bay Area. As you can see from the image above, there’s plenty of inherent beauty in the area, and the Joshua Trees only add to the mysticism as they provide a nice stage presence to the backdrop above.
Know of any other amazing spots to check out some celestial bodies? Let everyone know in the comment box below!