5 Must-See Spots for Stargazing
The incredible beauty of the night sky has had travelers gazing upwards for centuries, no matter where they are in the world.
But, if you live in a big city like me, you know that prime stargazing opportunities are, sadly, quite rare. But that’s where the International Dark-Sky Association comes in. The IDA was founded with the mission of “preserving and protecting the night time environment and our heritage of dark skies through quality outdoor lighting,” and has come up with an incredible list of the best places to take in the stars.
Here’s a few of our favorite places on that list:
Goldendale Observatory Park – Goldendale, Wash.
Just a two-hour drive from Portland, the Goldendale Observatory State Park is home to one of the country’s largest public telescopes and is the primary night sky interpretive site in the Washington State Parks System. The Park offers stargazing opportunities to over 50,000 people from surrounding cities and hosts regular viewings through its 24.5-inch telescope.
Natural Bridges National Monument – Southeastern corner of Utah
Located on the Colorado Plateau, the Natural Bridges National Monument is recognized as the second-largest natural bridge in the world. It’s also 100 miles away from any large town or city, so it has a nearly perfect lack of light pollution, making it one of the darkest National Park Service units in the lower 48 states.
Copper Breaks State Park – Northern Texas
Settled around 21 km south of the small town of Quanah, Copper Breaks State Park boasts of two small lakes and 16 km of trails. For nearly 20 year, the park has capitalized on its stunning celestial views, hosting Star Walks and astronomy programs and welcoming visitors to gaze at the incredible night sky.
The Headlands Park – Emmet County, Mich.
This 423-hectare park on the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula offers breath-taking views of Orion and the Milky way. Thanks to a county-wide outdoor lighting ordinance, artificial lighting is rare in the park, which enables thousands of visitors each year to celebrate the night sky through nighttime storytelling, starry cruises, astrophotography and star parties.
Cherry Springs State Park – Northern Pennsylvania
Cherry Springs State Park’s abnormally dark skies make it one of the best places in the eastern United States for stargazing. At 700 m above sea level in the heart of the Susquehannock State Forest, the Park’s “Astronomy Field” presents visitors with an astonishing 360-degree view of the skies. The Park is open all year and presents visitors with 60-85 ideal stargazing nights each year.