10 of the best places in the US for stargazing

Joe SillsIn Lake Tahoe, you can take a guided tour and marvel at the night sky.
  • Big cities aren’t the best spots for stargazing, but there are plenty of other destinations across the US that will give you a great view of the night sky.
  • National parks and preserves like Mojave National Preserve and Mesa Verde National Park provide great views with minimal light pollution.
  • Some smaller towns like Cape Cod, Moab, and Lake Tahoe are also secluded enough for stargazing.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

You don’t need to spend big bucks to see incredible views of the stars. All you really have to do is get away from bigger cities.

Here are some places across the US where you can see a spectacular night sky.


Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming offers unparalleled views.

Joe SillsNighttime shot of Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming.

The otherworldly landscape of Devils Tower National Monument is etched into the minds of sci-fi fans as the centrepiece of Steven Spielberg’s 1977 classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

You aren’t likely to see any UFO’s swirling around Devils Tower at night, but if you visit during the summer months, a glance up may treat you to stunning views of the Milky Way.

Staking out a site at the National Park Service’s Belle Fourche River Campground will give you unhindered views of the tower starting at $US20 per night.

The nearby Joyner Ridge Trail will place photographers far away from the light pollution and clamor of the camp. Bring a flashlight, and take a twilight stroll along the trail while you wait for the views of the galaxy.


Head to Creede, Colorado, for peaceful stargazing.

Joe SillsCreede offers the quaintness of a small town.

In Creede, Colorado, you’ll find views of the stars over Bachelor Loop Road, scattered among rolling vistas and abandoned mines.

Be warned: The road is narrow, unpaved, and steep in many places.

Looking for a pit stop on the way? Swing by Great Sand Dunes National Park for daytime views of a stunning desert landscape.


Mojave National Preserve in California offers an exceptional stargazing experience.

Joe SillsThe Mojave National Preserve provides a serene experience.

Between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the Mojave National Preserve is home to an endless landscape of sagebrush, sand, and Joshua trees.

The National Park Service operates two, family-friendly campgrounds within the preserve.

However, ask a park ranger about dispersed camping areas at Kelso Depot visitor centre, and they’re likely to point you in the direction of a lonely fire pit hidden somewhere in the desert. That’s where a sublime stargazing experience awaits.

Light is such a commodity at night that a set of party lights can illuminate your campground. And, in the Mojave, you’ll find the stars unobstructed, save for a few Joshua trees or mountain peaks in the distance.


Cape Cod has a pretty great view of the stars.

ShutterstockIf you’re on the East Coast, Cape Cod has some awesome viewing spots.

If you’re on the East Coast, there aren’t a lot of places with dark skies, but much of Cape Cod is dark enough to do some serious stargazing.

Plus many of these spots are along the beach, so you can catch some rays during the day, grab a bite, and then come back to the beach for some seriously gorgeous views of the stars on a clear night.


Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado is an isolated park with some great nighttime views.

Joe SillsMesa Verde National Park allows you to see the stars from a new perspective.

The Ancestral Pueblo ruins of Mesa Verde line the canyons of this isolated national park near the New Mexico and Colorado border.

Located 2,000 feet above the valleys below, Mesa Verde National Park offers an elevated view of the stars.

Lodging is available in the nearby town of Cortez, Colorado, or via campgrounds located within Mesa Verde National Park. The southern sky is your best viewpoint here, as light pollution can creep in from Cortez toward the north.


Go to Moab, Utah, if you want your choice of campgrounds.

Joe SillsMoab, Utah, has plenty of scenic campgrounds to choose from.

The gateway to both Arches and Canyonlands national parks, Moab welcomes throngs of mountain bikers, hikers, and photographers each year.

Utah State Road 128 runs along the Colorado River, outside of the Moab city limits and national-park boundaries. It’s a scenic drive that’s particularly useful for stargazers, as the highway is littered with roadside campgrounds and pull-outs that offer the perfect staging point for telescopes and cameras.

In late summer, the Milky Way can usually be seen stretching from one horizon to another in this area.

Check out Goose Island Campground, Grandstaff Canyon Trail, Fisher Towers Campground, and the Upper Big Bend Camping Area if you’re looking for a place to camp nearby.


Stay at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona after the sun goes down.

Joe SillsThe Grand Canyon gets even better at night.

Millions of visitors flock to the Grand Canyon each year to capture sunset views. But most of these visitors load up and head for hotels after the sun goes down, altogether missing one of the Grand Canyon’s most memorising views of all – a nightly blanket of stars.

Flagstaff, Arizona – the nearest major city to the Grand Canyon’s most popular entry point – is a certified International Dark Sky Community, meaning it has exceptional starry nights.

It’s also home to one of America’s oldest observatories, the 1894 Lowell Observatory.

Located about 80 miles from Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon is home to even darker skies, and its South Kaibab Trail is a well-maintained, relatively wide path that should be easy for evening hikers to follow.

When it’s operating, an afternoon shuttle can take hikers to the South Kaibab Trailhead, but you can also find a spot in the parking lot off of Desert View Drive and make the half-mile or so walk to the trail down Yaki Point Road.

Bring a headlamp, snacks, and plenty of water, then make your way toward Ooh Aah Point. But be aware that hiking into the Grand Canyon is easier than hiking out. Give yourself plenty of time and plan ahead for the nearly 4-mile round-trip hike.


Mauna Kea has one of the most gorgeous nighttime views in Hawaii.

ShutterstockDon’t forget about the stargazing opportunities in Hawaii.

Though most of these spots are in the contiguous US, Hawaii and Alaska have some beautiful destinations as well.

Mauna Kea is not only a beautiful place to see the stars, but also it’s a gorgeous landmark on its own – it’s actually a 13,803-foot dormant volcano – and the elevated stargazing here is mesmerising.


Big Bend National Park offers a pure dark sky for stargazing.

ShutterstockThe night sky at Big Bend National Park.

Big Bend National Park in Texas is one of the most beautiful places to see the stars in the US simply because it’s the national park that’s least inhibited by light in the lower 48 states, according to the National Parks Service.

Because of this lack of light pollution, you’re able to view stars that you wouldn’t otherwise see. And because the park is so secluded, you’ll likely find some truly unique views.

The park is also International Dark Sky Association accredited.


In Lake Tahoe, California, you can go on guided tours of the night sky.

Joe SillsIn Lake Tahoe, you can take a guided tour and marvel at the night sky.

In winter, Lake Tahoe is a nonstop sports destination for skiers and snowboarders. But in the summer months, life slows down a bit.

The respite comes at a perfect time for beginner stargazers as brisk mountain nights provide the perfect backdrop for Tony Berendson’s Tahoe Star Tours.

At 6,330 feet, California’s Cosmoarium places travellers in subalpine air in an International Dark Sky bronze-level area, when it’s open. If you’re not there in the summer though, Berendson also partners with other organisations for snowshoeing tours in the colder months to see the rarer Southern Milky Way.

The nightly views here are incredible, however, Lake Tahoe truly shines as a destination for beginner stargazers and for families. Berendson’s tours start at $US20, and they can deliver views of the red surface of Mars, the rings of Saturn, Jupiter’s famous moons, and even the binary stars of Antares.

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