The Best Places to Stargaze in the United States
by Molly Mann
It’s getting harder and harder to see the stars these days, as lights from urban and suburban areas create a haze in the sky that obscures the stars and planets from our view. Yet there are few things more enjoyable than marveling at a brilliant night sky. Thanks in part to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) and state and national parks, the following are the best places to stargaze as perhaps our pre-electricity ancestors did.
Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
Natural Bridges park has achieved one of the darkest skies in the United States by using only shielded thirteen-watt compact fluorescent light bulbs. In 2007, the IDA named Natural Bridges the first International Dark-Sky Park.
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
After Natural Bridges, Cherry Springs is the second International Dark-Sky Park. Check out the Astronomy Field, which offers 360-degree views of the night sky.
Block Island, Rhode Island
There are only a few street lights illuminating Block Island, which is about twelve miles away from mainland Rhode Island in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the best place to see the Perseid meteor showers in August.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
The nearest city to Big Bend National Park is hundreds of miles away, so there is no light pollution. The dry desert air also reduces light distortion, so the night sky here is crisp and clear. View the stars from the park itself or at the McDonald Observatory, run by the University of Texas, in the nearby Davis Mountains.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
You can catch gorgeous views of the night sky anywhere in Cape Cod, but try Surfside Beach, Nantucket Island, or Chatham Light Beach for the best stargazing locations.
Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Preserve, New Mexico
Thousands of snow geese take flight on their annual migration at dawn in Bosque Del Apache, so no lights are allowed (they’ll scare the birds and throw them off course). That also means there’s a superb view of the night sky here.
Mauna Kea, Hawaii
The W.M. Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea is located 9,200 feet above sea level, and those who attend the nightly stargazing program find themselves above the clouds.
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, near Acadia National Park in Maine, is doing its best to keep skies dark with town lighting ordinances. Maine already has very little light pollution, so this is a great place to see the stars.