The Milky Way’s cloudy band and planets are among the most stunning sights in the night sky. Consider spending extra time on your vacation in the USA to enjoy stargazing, as many people prioritise daytime sightseeing or adventure activities.
International Dark Sky Week. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which certifies dark skies worldwide, organises this week to raise awareness of light pollution. The IDA certifies all of these parks as dark sky places, so you can celebrate by seeing some of the best skies in the US. Select the best one based on your other motivations to travel.
Ideal for hiking: Grand Canyon, Arizona
Hiking along the Grand Canyon rim or in its depths is a must-do experience. It has many trails to explore during the day and organised astronomy events in the evenings. Ranger talks, constellation tours, and star parties are common, with local astronomers setting up telescopes at visitor centres on the north and south rim.
Best for families: Pennsylvania’s Cherry Springs State Park
Explore the night sky at Cherry Springs State Park in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, with young family members. Though small at 1.7 square miles, this state park has some of the best darkness near the east coast. On weekends, park educators and guest speakers offer programmes showcasing the night sky and natural world to all ages.
Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument is best for solitude.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument, a certified Dark Sky Sanctuary, is located in a sparsely populated area of the contiguous US. Stargazing requires planning because there are no roads. The rock formation can only be reached with a backcountry hiking permit from the nearby Navajo Nation.
Colorado and Utah’s Dinosaur National Monument is best for amateur palaeontologists.
Visit 150 million-year-old dinosaur fossils and stargaze at night. Located on the border of Colorado and Utah, this park offers a well-preserved geologic record of the universe’s history. Modern history can be learned from human petroglyphs.
Best urban stargazing: Homer Glen, Illinois
In remote areas of the country, stargazing may require a multi-night trip. Dark sky places are closer than you think. Homer Glen, with 25,000 residents, is an hour from downtown Chicago. Certified as a Dark Sky Community, it offers semi-regular stargazing events for residents and visitors.
Best for camping off-grid: Cosmic Campground, New Mexico
Those who are looking for the ideal place to get away from it all should look into visiting a dark sky park.Cosmic Campground was the first location in the northern hemisphere to be awarded the status of Dark Sky Sanctuary. In most cases, Sanctuary is shielded from the dangers that threaten its darkness. Because of its geographical isolation, it requires advocates. The designation of “sanctuary” assists in getting the word out.
The Gila National Forest is located in western New Mexico, and the Cosmic Campground is located within it. This campground provides only the most fundamental of amenities, including pit toilets, no access to running water or trash services, and red lights that can only be turned on at night. The rough way of life guarantees that visitors will get to see a clear night sky.