The world may seem a little crazy these days. That’s why it’s more important than ever to find ways to stay sane—and one of our favorites is getting out in nature. Fix your eyes heavenward and get lost in the beauty of a starry night sky in one of these remote stretches of the U.S.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
For a truly ethereal experience, head to Southern Colorado for a look at the stars from one of the state’s geological wonders, Great Sand Dunes National Park. Hours from any major city, the area’s stars are some of the clearest in the country, and the dunes that rise seemingly from nowhere amid the arid landscape add to the otherworldly allure. (It’s no wonder the place is held sacred to Native Americans—some believe the area’s even a hot spot for alien activity.)
Mauna Kea, Big Island, Hawaii
You can’t get much more isolated than a rock in the middle of the Pacific, and that makes for perfect stargazing conditions. Mauna Kea, the dormant volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, is home to a multitude of observatories set up by nonprofits—an “ohana of observatories,” as the scientists call it—creating one of the most productive astronomy sites in the world. Thanks to Mauna Kea’s gentle slopes, air flows smoothly, leading to an incredibly clear picture of the night sky.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The night sky pops from this iconic national park’s isolated location within the Mojave and Sonoran deserts of Arizona. One of the best spots to take it all in is Desert View, a small settlement along the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. A two-hour drive from the canyon, L’Auberge de Sedona offers a unique “star bathing” experience—it’s a take on the Japanese concept of shinrin-yoku, a practice to deeply connect with nature.
Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
This remote park in Northern Pennsylvania has the privileged distinction of being one of the best stargazing destinations in the world. It’s also one of the best places to see the stars on the otherwise crowded East Coast. Catch the Milky Way in its full glory—it’s so bright there that it actually casts a shadow on the ground. Visitors can stay in private “Astro Cabins,” all with their own stargazing fields.
Death Valley National Park, California
One of the hottest places on Earth, Death Valley National Park also holds the distinction of being one of the best stargazing spots in the country. Thankfully, winter and spring are the peak seasons for it, with special ranger-led tours and program. The park also holds an annual Dark Sky Festival in mid- to late winter, with events like night sky photography meet-ups and guided hikes.