If you live in a city, you probably feel bummed out every time a super cool astronomical event is about to happen. But sometimes, getting the clearest view is totally worth the two-hour drive out of town. To help you get a head start to the best vantage points to gaze up at the stars, we’ve put together the ultimate list of “dark sites” in the US — a term that’s officially measured and recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as a place with little to no light pollution, giving you the best unadulterated views of space. Happy stargazing!
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Once the sun sets here, the shadows created by an entire park full of canyons and rock formations can be fascinating. The scene is peaceful rather than eerie, and it is an amazing place from which to explore the vastness of the starry night sky.
Death Valley National Park, California
Death Valley effectively kills all artificial sources of light and is famous for being one of the darkest spots in the US. Viewers can sight meteors with the naked eye and observe the Milky Way as they’ve never seen it before.
Brockway Mountain, Michigan
It’s about as far north as you can get in Michigan without being in Lake Superior itself. There’s a scenic driving route that takes you to the summit of the mountain, where views are unparalleled due to its dark sky status.
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
You can kill two birds with one stone at Alaska‘s Denali National Park. Not only do you get to enjoy amazing natural beauty during the day, but you also get to marvel at the wide open heavens at night.
George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, Virginia
Finding dark skies on the East Coast is hard due to all the light pollution — but the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest offers surprisingly dark skies that, coupled with the high elevation, gives stargazers a wonderful platform to explore space.
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
You’ll find this vast expanse of woodland hidden away in central Pennsylvania. The park has also been credited as the darkest place east of the Mississippi. Join tons of other stargazers in seeing meteors, lunar eclipses, and other astronomical activities during events that are frequently hosted by the park itself.
The Cosmic Campground, New Mexico
It’s THE darkest place in the United States, located in the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. The nearest source of artificial light is more than 40 miles away — making it a “must do” for stargazers.
Have you traveled to stargaze before? Tell us all about it in the comments!