The Best Places to Stargaze in America

For 25 years, NASA’s orbiting Hubble telescope has beamed mesmerizing images of our universe. But Earth dwellers can get stellar celestial views, too.

Here are three trip-worthy dark-sky havens in the United States:

> Lake Powell (Utah)

The combination of a thin atmosphere and lack of artificial light for miles gives Natural Bridges National Monument a bright, clear sky. View the colorful Milky Way through the “window” of the massive Owachomo Bridge.

> Mackinaw City (Michigan)

Located along the shore of Lake Michigan, Headlands International Dark Sky Park is one of 20 designated night-sky parks in the world. See the constellations reflected in the water.

> Sedona (Arizona)

Gaze at the sky from Cathedral Rock in the Coconino National Forest. Recently recognized as the world’s eighth dark-sky community, Sedona has clear skies at least 300 days each year.

Monika Joshi is a researcher at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow her adventures on Twitter @TweeterMJ.


  1. Carl
    April 21, 2015, 10:58 pm

    Gaze at the stars and planets while camping anywhere in the great Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) here in northeastern Minnesota. Other than clouds, the only thing that might compete with your view of the stars is a beautiful display of the aurora borealis. The waters of any of our thousands of lakes will reflect your views of the sky while you are serenaded by the howling of wolves and the cries of the loons.

  2. BradH
    Columbus, Ohio
    April 21, 2015, 10:04 am

    Two additional suggestions:

    – For those stuck in then northeast, there is Cherry Springs, PA, a Dark Sky Reserve with great facilities (power, red-lit bathrooms, concrete pads) for stargazers. It is one of the darkest places east of the Mississippi river.

    – The darkest, most amazing sky I have ever seen was from the Visitor’s Center on Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawai’i. With Steady, Clear Air, almost no light pollution, and volunteers with telescopes, it is a great place to visit to see the sky.

  3. billy luna
    dominican republic
    April 20, 2015, 11:27 am

    at the PRESA of sabana iglesia in the dominican republic during easter holiday is also a very excellent place to stargaze. in 1993 during easter week i saw our galaxy belt with no binoculers. seriously.

  4. Suzi
    April 19, 2015, 11:23 pm

    Nice to see this. The farther you go up from Mackinaw City the more beautiful. Thank you for the nod, we need it!

  5. Maria Rico
    United States
    April 19, 2015, 7:07 pm

    One summer on our trip to Lake Powell my sister and I drove out to the far end of the marina and watch the stars and moon come alive in the night sky, it’s beyond words the majestic beauty of our solar system, one of the many trips we will always remember.

  6. Carlos Cepero
    Grand Canyon, Arizona
    April 19, 2015, 3:27 pm

    the best place I have been able to see the sky from

  7. Virginia Roethemeyer
    Lincoln NE
    April 19, 2015, 2:49 pm

    Have you ever been star gazing in Valentine NE? Or, been camping under the Harvest moon in the NE Sandhills? Try it!

  8. Maureen OConnòr
    April 19, 2015, 2:43 pm

    Cherry Springs, PA

  9. Michael
    April 19, 2015, 12:49 pm

    How about Hawaii? I know Haleakala is at a high elevation and it’s a generally good place, but what about on the beaches? How bad is the light pollution?

  10. Jan
    las Vegas, NV
    April 19, 2015, 12:29 pm

    What about Death Valley??? I took my son & his best friend (an amateur photographer) and we got FANTASTIC Milky Way shots!

  11. Erik
    April 12, 2015, 9:05 am

    What about It even has an astronomy program!