Stargazing Wonders: The Five Best Places to See Stars in the US

Gazing up at a sky filled with stars is an experience unlike any other. Whenever we are feeling a bit distant from our roots or overcome by day-to-day life, we make it a point to carve out some time to reconnect with nature. One activity we'll never tire of is absorbing the grandeur of the night sky. In the United States, there are a handful of places where light pollution is minimal, and the night sky shines in all its splendor. Whether you're an astronomy enthusiast or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of the cosmos (that's us!), these five gorgeous locations offer some of the best stargazing opportunities in the US.

Maunakea, Hawaii

Source: Hawaii Magazine

Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, Maunakea is a stargazing paradise that sits atop a dormant volcano. With its high elevation and dry atmosphere, Maunakea's summit houses some of the world's most advanced observatories. Head to the Visitor Information Station to get your hands (and eyes) on some useful educational programs and telescopes that are available for public use. Prepare yourself to marvel at distant galaxies, nebulae, and planets. The combination of a clear night sky and the stunning Hawaiian landscape creates an unforgettable stargazing experience.

Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

the starry night sky over cherry springs state park in pa

Source: The Dyrt

Recognized as one of the darkest locations on the East Coast, Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania offers a pristine setting for stargazing. The park's commitment to minimizing light pollution has earned it a Gold Level status from DarkSky International. DarkSky International is an incredible organization that "restores the nighttime environment and protects communities from the harmful effects of light pollution [...]." This distinction ensures that you'll enjoy rare, unobstructed views of celestial wonders, including the Milky Way and meteor showers. If you are particularly interested in astronomy, they regularly hold programs and events, making it an ideal spot for both stargazing hobbyists and natural science connoisseurs. 

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce National Park with Silhouette and Milky Way

Source: Enlighten Photography

Famous for its unique rock formations known as hoodoos, Bryce Canyon National Park also boasts incredibly clear night skies. The park's high elevation and remote location contribute to its designation as an International Dark Sky Park. If you'd like a more formal activity, we suggest attending one of their ranger-led astronomy programs to learn about constellations, planets, and the cultural significance of the night sky for indigenous peoples of the area. The stark contrast between the red rock landscape and the twinkling stars above creates an otherworldly atmosphere.

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Great Basin Meteors

Source: Park to Park in the Dark

Nestled in the rugged mountains of eastern Nevada, Great Basin National Park offers an impeccable stargazing environment far from urban light pollution. Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive leads to an elevation of over 10,000 feet, where the Great Basin Observatory provides telescopes for public use. If you're excited to plan your next trip, you're in luck! The Great Basin Astronomy Festival is fast approaching; from Thursday, September 14th to Saturday, September 16th, the park will welcome visitors to welcome the new moon and enjoy the night sky in good company!

Big Bend National Park, Texas

Source: Be My Travel Muse

In the remote expanse of West Texas, Big Bend National Park's vast desert landscapes and dramatic canyons set the stage for an exceptional stargazing adventure. Big Bend is the third place on our list that is recognized as an International Dark Sky Park! From ranger-led programs, full-moon hikes, and telescope viewings, this is one location you won't want to miss. The park's diverse ecosystems, including the iconic Chisos Mountains, provide numerous vantage points for observing constellations, planets, and meteor showers.

Chase the Stars

As urbanization continues to encroach our natural landscapes, the opportunity to witness the beauty of the night sky becomes increasingly precious. These five exceptional places in the US offer us a much-needed escape from the glow of city lights and provide a chance to reconnect with our universe. Whether you're an amateur astronomer or simply seeking a moment of wonder, these destinations promise to leave you awestruck. Get outside and plan your next star party!