10 Spectacular Parks for Stargazing

Celebrate the Special Wonders of a Dark Sky

The night sky over Death Valley National Park.

The night sky over Death Valley National Park. Photo © Beboy_Ltd/iStockphoto.

As the days get shorter, stargazers have more opportunities to celebrate the night—and national parks offer some of the darkest skies in the country.

If you have trouble seeing the stars from where you live, you’re not alone. Urban areas have become so bright that more than 80 percent of the U.S. population can no longer see the Milky Way from their front door. The National Park Service has its own Night Sky Team to help protect this diminishing resource.

Find a spot to enjoy the Perseid meteor shower next week, or a plan an awe-inspiring trip during the darker months for a glimpse of how the heavens looked before the dawn of electric light.

  • Natural Bridges National Monument

    1. Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah.

    In 2007, the International Dark-Sky Association named Natural Bridges the first international dark-sky park in the world. This prestigious distinction recognizes the park’s world-class stargazing opportunities as well as its commitment to preserving the darkness through educational programs and responsible outdoor lighting. Enjoy spectacular night skies through the monument’s sandstone arches and rock formations—in some places, visitors may see up to 15,000 stars in a single night. Astronomy programs are presented at the visitor center on Wednesday and Thursday nights through October.

Each month, NPCA puts together a slideshow exploring our National Park System. To get these features delivered to your inbox, sign up for Park Lines, NPCA’s newsletter.

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About the Author

Nevada Field Office Manager Lynn Davis

Lynn Davis, NPCA’s Nevada field office manager, will be at Great Basin’s Astronomy Festival in September “marveling at the Milky Way.” She laughs and says: “Who uses the word marvel unless you’re looking up in absolute wonder at a sky full of stars?”

About the Author

Editor of Online Communications Jennifer Errick

Jennifer Errick is editor of online communications at NPCA.

  • Charles M

    I’d add The Everglades as another East Coast option for stargazing. That’s where I went to see Halley’s Comet in 1986.