Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend is one of the largest, most remote national parks in the United States. Situated far from any major urban areas, this park has very little light pollution. Prepare to see the Milky Way and thousands of stars like never before.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado
Newly deemed an official International Dark Sky Park, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is surrounded by miles of vast open spaces. Far enough from cities but close enough for easy access, this park’s perfectly situated for some serious stargazing in Colorado.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
Explore the cliffs, canyons, domes, and natural bridges throughout 100 miles of the Waterpocket Fold to find the perfect spot. There’s very little artificial lighting in the park, making it ideal for stargazing.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico
This historical park protects archaeological discoveries that are thousands of years old with great care and strict lighting guidelines. This park is also home to a public observatory and annual star parties for visitors.

Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Spend a night in this park’s “Astronomy Field” for a 360-degree view of the night sky. Open year round with ideal conditions 60 to 85 days of the year, Cherry Springs remains one of the best spots for stargazing in Eastern United States.

Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
Only slightly affected by light pollution from Las Vegas, Death Valley offers exceptionally clear views of astronomical objects visible to only some of the darkest places on Earth.

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona
With high elevation plateaus, exceptional air quality, remoteness, and prevalence of cloud-free skies, Parashant is home to an abundance of natural darkness and incredibly dark night skies.

The Headlands Park, Michigan
The Park holds 550 acres of woods and 2 miles of shoreline for stargazers to enjoy year round. There’s very little artificial lighting on the Park with frequent nighttime events throughout the year.

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
Situated in the remote southeastern corner of Utah on the Colorado Plateau, Natural Bridges is home to the second largest natural bridge in the world and near perfect lack of light pollution.

Oracle State Park, Arizona
With skyglow from nearby Tucson blocked by the Santa Catalina Mountains, Oracle remains one of the most remote and least visited parks in Arizona. This makes Oracle one of the best places for stargazing, despite its proximity to such a large metropolitan area.

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Leave a Reply

  1. Frank

    It’s incredible that you could note the dark skies of Oracle State Park and say only that it is because “skyglow from nearby Tucson is blocked by the Santa Catalina Mountains.” That’s only small part of the story. Oracle State Park is so dark largely because, due to the strict outdoor lighting ordinances in Tucson and Pima County, the skyglow from Tucson is a fraction of what it would be for any metropolitan area of comparable size.

    In order to preserve dark skies, and to protect the astronomy research industry in the area, and the many observatories and research telescopes at Kitt Peak, Mt. Lemmon, Mt. Graham, and the Whipple Observatory, Tucson and Pima County passed strict outdoor lighting ordinances decades ago. These include limits on lumen output, controls on the frequency of lights (color temperature), prohibitions on some types of lamps, and the strict requirement that all outdoor lighting fixtures be “full cutoff” (meaning they don’t emit light beyond the vertical plane and into the sky).

    One needs only to compare the visibility of the night sky from the city of Tucson itself, to that in Phoenix 100 miles to the north, to see the difference that can be made with sensibly regulated outdoor lighting. You can see stars from one, and not from the other.

    1. Mary Heisey
      Mary Heisey Listing Owner

      Very thorough. We went off of info from the International Dark-Sky Association. Would you be interested in writing a piece on Oracle State Park? We can’t go into much detail here, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do Oracle State Park justice in a new piece. Let me know if you’re interested! You can email mheisey @ redrovercamping.com.

  2. John

    I witnessed some of the most brilliant meteors while star gazing in the Cataloochee Valley section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We’re talking dark skies there. No, not as glamoroius as some you have listed, but every bit as spectacular.

    1. Mary Heisey
      Mary Heisey Listing Owner

      It’s good to know there are plenty of options closer to home for us! There’s another International Dark Skies Park in the area: the Blue Ridge Observatory and Star Park in North Carolina. Plenty of places to see dark skies in this beautiful state. Thanks for your response, John! We’ll have to head out to Cataloochee soon.

  3. Gargamel

    watching the stars on a moonless night at the edge of the Rio Grande in Big Bend is one of my fondest memories of a sixty five year lifetime.