When it comes to camping, the fun doesn’t have to end after dark! Picking a campsite for some stargazing opportunities–also sometimes referred to as “dark sky camping”–is an increasingly popular camping strategy.
But it’s crucial to find the right campsites in the right places…otherwise, your view of the stars may be too limited to enjoy.
Read on for our roundup of the best campsites for stargazing, all across the United States. At any one of these places, you’re sure to enjoy a wonderful dark sky camping experience!
Acadia National Park – Near Bar Harbor, Maine
A great pick for stargazing on the upper tip of the northeast coast, Acadia National Park is known for its brilliant view of the night sky. It offers unique opportunities to enjoy constellations and star patterns not seen in the southern hemisphere.
This national park boasts several excellent stargazing locations, many of which are located near water. These include Jordan Pond, Seawall, Ocean Path, and Sand Beach. The park also provides
There are various seasonal camping opportunities at the campgrounds in Acadia National Park. This state park also provides a handy, detailed stargazing guide to help you time your trip, pack appropriately, and take the proper safety precautions.
Cherry Springs State Park – Coudersport, PA
Cherry Springs State Park is not only one of the most family-friendly opportunities for stargazing in the United States. It’s also one of only five state parks in the whole country to have received the highest certification as a dark sky park from the International Dark-Sky Association.
For a nominal fee, folks can enjoy a rustic camping experience at Cherry Springs from April through October. During this time, personal stargazing opportunities are available for serious astronomers who bring their own equipment. Guided tours by laser point and park-provided equipment are also hosted on the weekends during this time.
Big Pine Key – Lower Keys, Florida
Though it isn’t relegated within a national park or state forest, Big Pine Key in Florida is one of the best stargazing locations along the southeast! This portion of the Florida Keys offers some impressive night sky views,
In fact, stargazing is so popular in Big Pine Key, it plays host to the annual Winter Star Party, held every February. Folks who are eager to camp and enjoy the unique view of the southern-hemisphere stars can pitch camp at Bahia Honda State Park or stay at the Sun Outdoors Sugarloaf Key Campground. This is a great way to enjoy both stargazing and camping in a warm, wonderful location.
Blue Ridge Parkway – North Carolina
It should come as little surprise that the Blue Ridge Mountains would feature on a list of best campsites for stargazing in the United States! These infamous mountains in the southeastern region are full of robust beauty in the daytime…and just as much in the dark.
Because this parkway winds and wends through so much forestry up in the mountains, light pollution is not an issue. This means that at any time after dark, you can witness a breathtaking array of stars from all along the parkway. This unique stargazing opportunity has appealed to many drivers and campers over the years…will you be the latest?
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore – Indiana
Located right in the Crossroads of America, you will find a wonderful stargazing opportunity awaits at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore! Just far enough from Chicago to escape big-city light pollution, the Indiana Dunes offers miles of serene shoreline with perfect stargazing opportunities. In fact, the small town of Beverly Shores in the Dunes area has been certified as a Dark Sky community.
There is a lovely campground within the Indiana Dunes, not far at all from the lakeshore. This provides the ideal circumstances for pitching camp and walking a short distance out to the waterfront for some unforgettable stargazing!
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
Rugged and remote, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is about as far north as you can get in Wisconsin. This makes it perfectly ideal for stargazing. In fact, you can see more than just the stars here…under the right conditions, this is a great location to witness the Northern Lights as well!
Conditions are so wonderful for stargazing at this far-flung national lakeshore, folks have been petitioning for a Dark Sky certification for some time now. With several different options for camping, alone or in groups, everyone can come and enjoy the Apostle Islands and the incredible stargazing opportunities this region offers.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota
A bit farther to the west of the midwest, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is considered among the best locations in this region to enjoy the celestial bodies. This is helped by its location, teetering on the edge of Montana’s “Big Sky” country. Even to the naked eye, without a speck of equipment, the night sky above this national park is a wonder to behold.
Campers will have their pick of three different campgrounds within the park, each boasting its own campsite options…including a horse camp! That makes this state park the ideal spot for folks of all different camping styles and preferences to come to enjoy some incredible stargazing.
Big Bend National Park – Texas
Although it is among the largest and most beautiful state parks in the United States, Big Bend National Park is also notoriously under-visited. This means that, at any given time, it can feel like you have the entire park to yourself.
This makes for some ideal camping and stargazing opportunities…particularly as this park is listed as the one with the least light pollution of all the Lower 48 states. You can reserve a camping spot at Big Bend National Park with the confidence that the sky will be an open tapestry. And certainly one worth viewing as you enjoy it from your campsite, or out in the body of the park itself.
The Sky Islands – Arizona
Arizona is among the most beloved stargazing states in the country. The wide spans and varying elevations offer plenty of different stargazing opportunities. Among the most famous for these are the Sky Islands–such as the popular Chiricahua–which are high-elevation communities.
Many of the Sky Islands are scarcely populated and heavily forested, offering minimal sky pollution so you can enjoy stargazing to your heart’s content. Various locations within the Sky Islands boast their own multifarious camping opportunities, from rugged to more glamorous. So, whatever your camping style, you can be sure to come and enjoy the Sky Islands of Arizona!
Dinosaur National Monument – Utah/Colorado Border
The first thing you should know about Dinosaur National Monument is it is one of the newly-named Dark Sky parks in the United States! So you can trust that this location offers some truly remarkable stargazing opportunities. Located near the Utah/Colorado border, Dinosaur National Monument offers one of the darkest night skies in the country.
This setting makes for a truly breathtaking stargazing experience! Campers can pitch camp at Split Mountain Campground and enjoy stargazing from the comfort of their campsite. Or, strike off on a ranger-guided tour through Echo Park or to the nearby rivers for some wilderness stargazing.
Joshua Tree National Park – California
The notions of California and stargazing do not often coincide, as this state is notorious for some of the largest cities with the greatest light pollution in the country. However, when you get out to Joshua Tree National Park, you’ll discover a whole different night sky awaits!
This certified Dark Sky park offers a view unlike any other. Boasting one of the darkest skies on the Dark Sky park roster, Joshua Tree offers fantastic stargazing views from numerous locations. From the campgrounds themselves to designated pull-offs, you can find so many opportunities to pause and behold the wonders of the night sky from just about anywhere during your camping trip here.
The Outer States
Denali National Park and Preserve – Alaska
Is it any wonder that Alaska has some prime locations for stargazing? The interplay of light and dark with the various seasons can make it tricky to plan a stargazing trip to this northernmost state. However, if you time it right, Denali National Park and Preserve offers some fantastic views of the night sky.
You can enjoy more than just the stars in the sky over Denali, too. The Northern Lights are absolutely magnificent in this area, most often spotted around sunset and sunrise. Planning a camping trip to Denali for some wilderness exploring and stargazing is sure to be a memorable experience!
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Big Island
There are numerous incredible stargazing opportunities all across the islands of Hawaii. It’s all just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and away from light pollution that encumbers your view!
If you’re looking for a guaranteed beautiful stargazing opportunity with wonderful camping options as well, the Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii’s Big Island is a fantastic option. This national park boasts lots of great campsite opportunities as well as plenty of places throughout the park where you can strike off into remote regions and behold the beauty of the night sky.
Where Will You Go Camping for Stargazing?
Excited to visit some of the best campsites for stargazing in the USA? Before you get started, be sure to check out our Camping page! This will provide resources to help ensure you have everything you need for a safe and fun stargazing campground excursion!