If you live in a city, you totally feel the jealousy 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 the city — c’mon, this kind of stuff only happens every once in a blue moon (pun INTENDED). To help you get a leg up on a best spots to stake out and star gaze, we’ve put together the ultimate list of “dark sites” in the US — a term that is officially measured and recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as a place with little to no air pollution, granting gazers the best unadulterated views of space. Give it a look over and start plotting your next star gazing trip!
Brockway Mountain, Michigan
It’s about as far north as you can get in Michigan without being in Lake Superior itself. There is a scenic driving route that takes you to the summit of the mountain, where views are unparalleled due to its dark sky status.
Canyonlands National Park, Utah
An entire park full of canyons and rock formations is shrouded in chilly darkness once the sun falls. The scene is peaceful rather than eerie as spindling arches and hulking canyons frame the starry night sky.
Death Valley National Park, California
One of the darkest spots in the US, Death Valley offers beautiful and huge looks at the stars. Viewers can see meteors with the naked eye and see the Milky Way as they’ve never seen it before.
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Though you can get great vistas nearly anywhere in Alaska, Denali National Park is a beautiful place to commune with nature by day and get unparalleled star gazing views at night.
George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, Virginia
Finding dark skies on the East Coast is hard — but the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest offers surprisingly dark skies which, coupled with the high elevation, gives stargazers a stunning look at space.
Baxter State Park, Maine
Way, way up at the tippy-top of Maine is Baxter State Park — a solitary escape that many East Coasters will want to take advantage of to catch our galaxy’s darkest skies.
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Hidden away in central Pennsylvania is this vast expanse of woodland — an expanse that’s also been credited at the darkest place east of the Mississippi. Join tons of other stargazers in seeing meteors, lunar eclipses, and other astronomical items during events that are frequently hosted by the park itself.
Big Bend National Park, Texas
Because it’s much closer to the Southern Hemisphere than most other parts of the US, Big Bend affords gazers rare views of the Southern Cross stars. Observatories here have also gotten looks at black holes and distant galaxies.
The Cosmic Campground, New Mexico
No, it isn’t U2’s latest album title. 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 this place a “must do” for stargazers.
Have you traveled to stargaze before? Tell us all about it in the comments!