8 Spectacular US Destinations for Anyone Who Loves Stargazing
Whether you check your horoscope regularly for personal insights or enthusiastically follow NASA’s latest advances in astronomy (or both!), we bet you’d love to take a trip driven by the stars. To score a list of the best locations, we tapped Aliza Kelly, Allure’s in-house astrologer and author of The Mixology of Astrology. Scroll on for her picks — they’re perfect intel for booking your next camping or glamping adventure, whether it’s by yourself, with bae, or with your BFFs.
The Grand Canyon is a popular tourist stop for good reason: It offers an ultra-versatile and beautiful landscape that’s ideal for a range of outdoor activities, including horseback riding, hiking, and swimming. Kelly agrees that the Grand Canyon is truly a special place, adding that it’s also a fantastic place to plan a trip around stars. “With millions of visitors each year, it may be surprising to discover that the canyon’s floor is one of the darkest places in the United States,” she shares. “Stargazers will especially love visiting the Lipan Point — a more remote destination that is guaranteed to deliver magical vistas.”
“There aren’t many spaces on the East Coast that offer sprawling open spaces and velvety dark skies, but Cherry Springs State Park (located in northern Pennsylvania) is one of the world’s most spectacular sites for stargazing,” says Kelly. She tells us that, on a clear night, you may be able to see up to 30,000 stars — as well as “planets, asteroids, and mystical celestial bodies.”
If you live in southern California, this park is a perfect place to treat yourself to an outdoorsy weekend away: Located about two hours from San Diego, it offers some of the most photo-worthy natural sights on the west coast. “Even more, Anza-Borrego was recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as one the darkest places in the world in 2009,” Kelly adds. “You’ll find that sky tours are offered nightly — and with an active community of astronomers, this space is both majestic and educational.”
“Serious stargazers should be sure to visit Utah: There are nine dark sky parks in the state alone!” Kelly enthuses. “Steinaker State Park, located in the northeast Dinosaur National Monument and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, is a perfect place to explore the constellations. Its high elevation (5,500 feet) helps block out light from neighboring towns, allowing space-lovers to observe unobserved views of the planets and stars.”
Live in the Midwest? Be sure to add this Dark Sky Park resting on the shores of Lake Michigan to your celestial travel bucket list. “Although the 550-acre site is mostly forest, there are two miles of undeveloped beach that offers spectacular darkness,” promises Kelly. “Even better: Visitors who journey to this celestial destination between September and April may even see the Northern Lights!”
According to Kelly’s rave review, this national monument may be just as out-of-this-world as its name suggests. “Idaho’s Craters of the Moon National Monument is a [major destination] for astro-lovers,” she shares. “In addition to the dark sky and sprawling vista, this sparsely populated site is overflowing with incredible volcanic formations and lava flows. Visitors will truly feel like they’re on another planet.”
Have you done the Disney World thing or visited the Florida Keys a few times over already? If so, consider branching out a bit and making the trip to Kissimmee Prairie Preserve on your next trip to the continental US’s most southern state. “This is a spectacular dark landscape that will be sure to have you seeing stars,” encourages Kelly. “This breathtaking reserve of grassland is also home to dozens of endangered species, which will be sure to add some extraterrestrial magic to your galaxy-guided adventure.”
“New Mexico’s perfectly titled Cosmic Campground is truly spectacular,” Kelly says. “One of the International Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world, this super-remote 3.5-acre site in western New Mexico delivers exceptional night skies.” We wholeheartedly believe her when she swears that the panoramic views will take your breath away and serve as the ultimate backdrop for reflection and dreaming.