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15 Incredible places to go stargazing

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

What better way to remember we’re all tiny specks among this infinite expanse of universe than to stare up into the night sky dotted with endless stars? Here are sixteen places with incredible views of the night sky where you can get back in touch with the universe.

Texas

Photo: Korey Taylor
  • 1. Camp at Nugent Mountain - Big Bend is an amazing place that offer true desert solitude. Camp out here to enjoy the Sierra Del Carmens and Nugent Mountain (really a butte) as a backdrop for night sky viewing.
  • 2. Chisos Mountains Loop - This 15.3-mile loop hike in Big Bend National Park has 3,737 feet of elevation gain and is mostly along exposed cliffs and through narrow canyons with views over the Chihuahuan Desert.
  • 3. Fort Griffin - Prepare to stare up in awe at the the Milky Way! This historic site offers a Star & Skies viewing party every month - the only way to enter this historic site at night. Alternatively, stay the night at the Fort Griffin Campground– you’re sure to get breathtaking night skies anywhere in this general area.

Minnesota

  • 4. Canoe or kayak the Ensign and Birch Lake Loop - Grab binoculars and a boat to make the most of this 3-day, 24-mile loop in Voyageurs National Park! There are many places to camp between the start and ending points at Moose Lake. Choose one with a little height for increased star viewing, or paddle into the middle of the lake for an unobstructed look at the dark skies!
  • 5. Camp on Lake 2 - This site in Voyageurs National Park can be reached by launching at Lake One and portaging into Lake Two. Try to stay at this northeast campsite - it faces the West and has an awesome vantage point of the sun setting across the lake!

Colorado

  • 6. Hike the Spruce Canyon Trail - This 3.1-mile out-and-back trail in Mesa Verde National Park is open year-round, perfect for stargazing from the ridge over Chapin Mesa! Go early to catch a sunset and see the wildlife before night sets in.
  • 7. Explore Park Point - A short walk from the parking lot leads to the highest point in Mesa Verde National Park, where you can see four states: New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah.

Utah

  • 8. Whitewater Raft the Gates of Lodore - This section of the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument is known for a 46-mile rafting route through big water. After spending the day maneuvering rapids (adrenaline, anyone?) or hiking to side canyons with waterfalls, curl up in a sleeping bag and await the natural show the stars put on every night! Keep an eye on the weather for your best stargazing opportunities (no clouds and a waning or new moon).
  • 9. Hike the Red Canyon Rim Trail at Flaming Gorge - This 5-mile point-to-point adventure along the Red Canyon rim offers unbeatable views from atop the 1,400 foot cliffs of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Camping is available at the Canyon Rim Campground or along the forest roads of Highway 44.

Hawaii

Photo: Shane Black
  • 10. Mauna Kea’s Summit - There is one word to describe the views atop this 14,000 ft dormant volcano: otherworldly. Stargazers and astrophotographers should not miss the opportunity to stop by Mauna Kea. You'll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to plow through the bumpy dirt road to get there, passing by observatories on the way. Once at the top, you’ll feel like you’re one with the clouds– a rare experience.

North Carolina

  • 11. Black Balsam Knob - This is one of the best spots in the Blue Ridge Mountains for a starry night showing. At an elevation of 6,200 ft, the visibility is on-point. For just a mile and a half of hiking, this treeless bald offers insane views of the mountainous terrain. There are several campsites to choose from at the top.
  • 12. Clingmans Dome - With an elevation gain of 6,400 ft and the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains, the views are incredible. The conditions at top can be a bit hard to predict, so come prepared for the elements! The drive over offers endless views of stunning valleys and ridges.

Wyoming

Photo: Jason Hatfield
  • 13. Devils Tower - Devils Tower (also known as Bear Lodge) was the first designated National Monument! In the middle of the wilderness, this unique rock formation is surrounded by ponderosa forest and blissful solitude. There is a campground on-site where you can spend the night at after staying up late to look at and photograph the stars.
  • 14. Yellowstone Geysers - This surreal spot in Yellowstone National Park is an amazing place to absorb the vast dark sky with no crowds at night. Though this area is popular during the day, only those in-the-know will experience the glory of the bright Milky Way right above them and geysers and hot springs in the background.

California

Photo: Nathanial Garner
  • 15. The Road to Trona- In San Bernardino county, the small town of Trona features towering tufa formations formed underwater many years ago and appear truly out of this world. Drive to the Pinnacles and spend some time hiking to find the perfect spot– there’s no shortage of amazing vantage points here.

Stargazing is a perfect nighttime activity, but what about during the day while you’re waiting for the sky to darken? Use our app to plan adventures like hikes and camping on the way to your stargazing destinations.

Cover Photo: Nathaniel Garner

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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