The United States is a vast and varied landscape that contains not only some of the world’s greatest natural wonders but also some of the planet’s darkest skies. There are certified dark sky parks and locations all across the United States from sea to shining sea.
Here are ten of the best dark sky locations in the United States that will give you some truly spectacular views of the stars.
1. Glacier National Park, Montana
Nestled in the northern Rocky Mountains on the border with Canada in Montana, Glacier National Park is a gorgeous slice of wilderness that is removed from all major population centers. There are some small towns that ring the park but there are no major sources of light pollution. The air is clear and cool most of the year giving visitors breathtaking views of the Milky Way.
2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Not only is the Grand Canyon one of the greatest natural wonders on Earth, it is also home to some truly dark skies. Out in the middle of the Arizona desert, there are few sources of major light pollution near the national park. The desert air is dry and clear year round which cuts down on natural impediments to stargazing.
Next time you travel out to see the majesty of the Grand Canyon, make sure to stay after dark and drink in the wonders of the night sky.
3. Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, Idaho
The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve isn’t just a park or small space dedicated to astronomy but an entire swath of land. This is one of the largest dark sky designated areas in the world at over 1,500 square miles of certified dark skies. This is a great place to go camping with an eye on the sky or to take drives on the remote roads at night to try and catch a glimpse of your favorite night sky sights.
Next time you are in the area, make sure to spend a night in the dark sky reserve. You won’t be disappointed.
4. Death Valley National Park, California
Similar to the Grand Canyon, Death Valley benefits from having wide flat land, dry air and a remoteness needed to generate excellent night sky views. Located in the deserts of eastern California, Death Valley is an inhospitiable place during the day featuring some of the hottest temperatures on Earth. But at night, the sky comes out and the Milky Way becomes visible to the naked eye.
When the heat dies down, the stars light up. This is one stop you do not want to miss.
5. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Many of the dark sky locations in the United States are located out west. It is called big sky country for a reason out there. But you do not always have to travel so far west to get incredible dark skies in the United States. Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania is a certified dark sky park. The park is located in north-central Pennsylvania amongst old cherry trees and rolling hills.
It has quickly become one of the most popular stargazing spots in the northeast and for good reason. At night, the real show begins.
6. The Headlands, Michigan
Located at the far northern tip of Michigan, before you get to the Upper Peninsula is the Headlands Dark Sky Park. Sitting on over five hundred acres of undeveloped land, the park has some of the best night skies available in the Mid West. The primary feature here is a two mile stretch of completely untouched beach along the shore of Lake Michigan giving visitors a jaw dropping view of the stars over the lake.
Next time you are on your way up to the UP, make sure to stop at The Headlands and reserve some time to spend along the lake after sunset.
7. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, Florida
The Kissimmee Prarie in Florida is the only certified dark sky park in the state. Located miles south of Orlando in Okechobee county, this park benefits from a lack of commercial development. Straddling the Everglades, this park is home to some of the best dark skies in the entire southeastern United States. Make sure to plan your trip, because Florida gets muggy, buggy and cloudy during rainy season. In the winter, when the skies are clear, there are few views better than the ones you can get here.
8. Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Canyonlands National Park is located among some of the best parks in all of the United States. Utah is home to nine total dark sky parks and this is simply one of many excellent locations in the state of Utah. Canyonlands features stunning vistas, deep twisting canyons, dry air and beautiful stone arches. It is a breathtaking sight during the day, and even more so at night.
The proximity to other excellent national parks and nearby dark sky locations makes Canyonlands a favorite spot for astrophotographers and casual stargazers alike.
9. Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend is located in western Texas and is one of the best places to stargaze. Stradling the Mexican border and the Rio Grande, Big Bend features canyons, mountains and deserts all sitting under a big, bright Texas sky. There are no major population centers around Big Bend National Park and it is insulated from the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.
The result is not only a gorgeous terrestrial landscape but also a stunning starscape that appears every night.
10. Great Basin National Park, Nevada
The lights of Las Vegas are bright and the casinos never close but a few hours north of the lights of Vegas lies Great Basin, National Park. On the Utah border, this park features some truly unique landscapes. The remoteness allows you to get some absolutely special night sky sights and is a must-see for anyone traveling in the area. It’s relative proximity to Las Vegas makes it a perfect destination when you need a natural break from the casinos.