Places to Camp with the Best View of the Stars
You can barely see more than a few hundred stars from an urban park, even if it's one of the best. Camping is all about reconnecting with nature, breathing fresh air by a campfire and admiring the sky. The following places made the list for several reasons - they are either remote, located at high elevation, tucked into undeveloped land, offer special night sky programs, or offer thrilling camping conditions.
1. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Night sky viewing is offered on Friday through Monday nights, according to NPS. After the evening ranger program, you are welcome to stay and continue enjoy the stars. On any given night, you will be stunned by more than 7,500 stars. Other views include star clusters, nebulae, planets and moons, the NPS says.
2. Joshua Tree National Park, California
You will be about 1,000 feet higher than some of the park's other sites, which is why you'll be able to enjoy some of the best views of Southern California's night skies. The first Night Sky Festival in the park is this October but you can go stargazing and camping year-round.
3. Galloway Forest Park, Scotland
Due to its remoteness, the Galloway Forest Park has been awarded the status of being one of only four "Dark Sky Parks" in the western world. The largest forest park in Scotland - over 185,000 acres - has very few buildings, making it easy to see more than 7,000 stars from anywhere.
4. Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park, New Zealand
The White Horse Hill Campground is just about a mile and a half from Aoraki/Mt Cook Village, which is one of the best places in the country for stargazing as there are no cities or even small towns nearby. The night sky is crystal clear and ringed by mountain ranges, according to the Department of Conservation.
5. The Atacama Desert, Chile
Camping in the Atacama Desert can be a lonely and dangerous experience as there are no signs or marks once you get off the road. Just go on a camping/stargazing expedition. The Atacama Desert is a very, very dry place, making it ideal for stargazing.
6. Yangtze River Valley, China
Air pollution in China has been a global problem for years but the Yangtze River Valley has some of the clearest skies in the world (The river is also ideal for cruises).
7. Mauna Kea, Hawaii
Camping permits for the Mauna Kea State Park can be applied for no more than 30 days in advance. There is no pollution because of a tropical inversion cloud layer about 2,000 feet thick, well below the summit, that isolates the upper atmosphere from the lower moist maritime air and ensures that the summit skies are pure, dry, and free from atmospheric pollutants.
8. Kiruna, Sweden
Kiruna, close to the border with Norway and Finland, is a popular destination for witnessing the glowing Northern Lights. You have the option of sleeping in an igloo in the winter.
The area is home to many space research centers because of its remoteness and lack of air pollution.
9. La Fortuna, Costa Rica
According to TravelPod, there are three campgrounds in La Fortuna form where you can enjoy stunning dark skies and thermal hot springs. Bonus: Costa Rica, one of the cleanest countries in the world, is one of the few places in the northern hemisphere where you can see the Magellanic Clouds, which are two dwarf galaxies, if you go between December and April.
10. Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park, one of the world’s most spectacular, isolated and away from pollution and urban artificial lights, has many rest camps with many bungalows and cottages that are perfect for families and groups wanting self-catering accommodation.
11. Exmouth, Australia
Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, a massive sandstone monolith, is said to be Australia’s best stargazing location because of its remoteness.
12. Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
Natural Bridges National Monument is another "Dark Sky Parks,” one of four in the western world.
13. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
Another “Dark Sky Parks” location, this remote and wild state park sits high atop a mountain in Pennsylvania as one of the best places on the eastern seaboard for stargazing and astronomy enthusiasts.
14. Death Valley National Park, California
More than 3 million acres of wilderness and almost 700 miles of backcountry dirt roads are open for camping.
15. Big Bend National Park, Texas
Big Bend is known as one of the outstanding places in North America for stargazing as it has the least light pollution of any other National Park unit in the lower 48 states, according to NPS.
16. Kejimkujik National Park, Canada
Kejimkujik was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve in 2010, according to Parks Canada.