Exploring Night Skies - Where to Stargaze

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A whole new world comes alive at night and is waiting to be explored. When you head out at night to stargaze, take your family or friends with you, be prepared for a cool night, and let your eyes adjust to the wonder above. Below are some recommendations from our friends at the National Park Service to make your experience memorable and #BringHomeaStory! 

Where to Stargaze

In Your Backyard

Winding road with stars shining in the night sky at Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park, Maine (Paul Rutherford, Share the Experience)


Around Your Town

In the Wilderness

Starry sky over the trees in campground at Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress National Reserve, Florida

  • Look for the Milky Way stretching across the night sky. What looks like a faint cloud is actually the light from millions and millions of distant stars. The Milky Way is our home galaxy and is best seen in summer and fall evening skies.
  • If the full moon is up, the Milky Way will be hard to see. Try going for a night hike instead! Let your eyes adjust to the moonlight and keep your flashlight turned off (but available for safety if needed).


In a National Park

  • Camp under the stars! What better way to experience the great outdoors than camping in a national park under a star-filled sky?
  • National parks are great places to get to know the animals that are nocturnal—wildlife that is awake at night and asleep during the day. Sit quietly and listen for these creatures.
  • Many national parks offer night sky programs, from telescope astronomy events to full moon walks with rangers. The following, partial list of parks aims to give a head start in your search. Other parks also have night sky programs, so be sure to check with your park if you are interested. An asterisk* denotes those parks certified by the International Dark Sky Association as dark sky destinations:

              Acadia National Park

              Arches National Park 

              Badlands National Park 

              Big Bend National Park* 

              Big Cypress National Preserve*

              Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park*

              Bryce Canyon National Park

              Canyonlands National Park*

              Capitol Reef National Park*

              Capulin Volcano National Monument*

              Carlsbad Caverns National Park

              Cedar Breaks National Monument*

              Chaco Culture National Historical Park*

              Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve*

              Death Valley National Park*

              Dinosaur National Monument

              Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

              Grand Canyon National Park*

              Great Basin National Park*

              Hovenweep National Monument*

              Joshua Tree National Park*

              Lassen Volcanic National Park

              Mojave National Preserve

              Natural Bridges National Monument*

              Obed Wild and Scenic River*

              Olympic National Park

              Petrified Forest National Park

              Pinnacles National Park

              Rocky Mountain National Park

              Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument*

              Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

              Voyageurs National Park

Find a park near you with Recreation.gov!

Three friends standing next to each other at their campground looking up at the shimmering night sky

Big Bend National Park, Texas (Matthew Woodworth, Share the Experience)



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