Best Locations for Nighttime Star Gazing in the U.S.

Urban sprawl and artificial lighting dominate to much of the nighttime sky. Fortunately, the United States has taken significant steps to preserve the pristine beauty of the night sky. Today, over 60 designated International Dark Sky Reserves offer sanctuaries of darkness where the cosmos can be admired in full splendor.

  • Natural Bridges National Monument | Photo: Shutterstock

    Natural Bridges National Monument

    Found in southeastern Utah, near the town of Lake Powell, this site was the first ever to be designated an International Dark Sky Park. The monument's high desert environment, clear skies, and natural bridges form a unique setting for night sky enthusiasts to enjoy spectacular views of the stars and planets.

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  • Death Valley National Park | Photo: Shutterstock

    Death Valley National Park

    Located in California and Nevada, near the town of Lone Pine, Death Valley is recognized for having some of the darkest nights in the United States. Its vast, unobstructed desert landscapes and minimal light pollution create an ideal setting for observing celestial phenomena and the Milky Way in stunning detail.

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  • Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve | Photo: Shutterstock

    Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve

    Encompassing over 1,400 square miles, this reserve is one of the largest havens of natural nighttime darkness in the U.S. Located in the heart of Idaho, near cities like Ketchum and Sun Valley, the reserve's expansive size and commitment to dark sky preservation make it a premier destination for stargazers.

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  • Canyonlands National Park | Photo: Shutterstock

    Canyonlands National Park

    Located near Moab, Utah, Canyonlands offers a dramatic desert landscape under a canopy of stars. The park's high desert terrain and clear, dark skies provide a spectacular backdrop for viewing celestial events and constellations.

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  • Voyageurs National Park | Photo: Shutterstock

    Voyageurs National Park

    In northern Minnesota, near International Falls, Voyageurs is a water-based park known for its dark skies and beautiful aurora borealis displays. The park's remote lakes and forests offer a serene setting for night sky viewing, far from the glow of city lights.

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  • Lassen Volcanic National Park | Photo: Shutterstock

    Lassen Volcanic National Park

    Located in northern California, near Redding, Lassen Volcanic National Park is not only known for its unique geological features but also for its dark and starry skies. The park's high elevation and clear air contribute to exceptional night sky clarity, perfect for viewing meteor showers and the Milky Way.

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  • Great Basin National Park | Photo: Shutterstock

    Great Basin National Park

    In eastern Nevada, near the town of Baker, Great Basin is famous for its ancient bristlecone pines and some of the country's darkest skies. The park's remote location and high elevation offer pristine conditions for night sky observation and photography.

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  • North Cascades National Park | Photo: Shutterstock

    North Cascades National Park

    Located in Washington State, near the city of Sedro-Woolley, North Cascades is a rugged mountainous region offering dark skies and breathtaking views.

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