These lightless campgrounds allow visitors to see the stars like never before


Visiting a starry sky park is every astronomer’s dream, and these will make you see the stars like never before.

Cities around the world come alive at night, their streets filled with cars lit by headlights indicating when to stop and pass traffic lights. Pedestrians wait for an illuminated man to tell them when it’s safe to cross, paying attention to the bright red hand warning that tells them when it’s not. The effect of all of these artificial lights extends beyond where they are, polluting the ability to appreciate lights that existed long before us.

Founded in 1988, the International Dark-Sky Places Association (IDA) has found a way to help humanity return to its roots, by designating the darkest places in the world, and therefore the best places to bow their heads. toward the sky. The campgrounds in these dark sky parks are a reminder of how extraordinary it is to exist right now, on a planet illuminated by the same material that lives in all of us.

ten Middle Fork River Forest Reserve

Designated as a Dark Sky Location in 2018, the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve underwent $ 20,000 upgrades to ensure its 1,702 acres would be a great place to stargaze. The Preserve now offers nightly programs that focus on the importance of preserving darkness in an increasingly illuminated world. Indian Ridge’s zero-power campsite offers a pitch black spot to pitch a tent and enjoy the night sky.

  • Address: 3485 County Road 2700 E, Penfield, IL 61862

9 Warrumbungle National Park

Warrumbungle National Park was designated Australia’s only Dark Sky Park in 2016. At the edge of the park, the Siding Springs Observatory studies the sky from a location not obscured by light pollution. The park is very beautiful during the day with its volcanic mountains and forests, but the scenery becomes even more surreal at night, with the silhouettes of the arrows heading towards a star-laden sky. There are several remote campsites to wish for a star from, but it may be indistinguishable which twinkle you saw first.

  • Address: Belougerie Plains Trail, Warrumbungle NSW 2828, Australia

8 Medicine Rocks State Park

Named for its unique rock formations filled with Native American art, Medicine Rocks State Park earned its Dark Sky Park status in 2020. Since then, the park has hosted star parties, inviting visitors to participate in conversations focused on the impact of artificial light on humans, animals and the environment. There are 12 campsites to choose from, offering views of the Milky Way in a location as rich in historical and cultural significance as it is in stars.

  • Address: 1141 MT-7, Ekalaka, MT 59324

7 Galloway Forest Park

Galloway Forest Park in Scotland was dubbed a dark sky place in 2009. Policies have been put in place to ensure that twenty percent of the park will never be permanently lit, which means stunning views of the stars in the sky. over the hills. There are 11 campsites, but many campers prefer to take a different route with wild camping. There are nearly 300 square miles encompassed within the park, so there are plenty of places to set up camp and soak in the feeling of being away from it all.

  • Address: Galloway Forest, Creebridge, Newton Stewart DG8 6AJ, United Kingdom

Related: 15 Stargazing Destinations For Space Lovers (5 Where City Lights Ruin The Night Sky)

6 Buffalo National River

In 2019, the Buffalo National River became a place with dark skies. Blessed by huge cliffs, vast open fields, and beautiful forests for which the Ozarks are known, this heavenly sanctuary offers breathtaking views any time of the day. Campers can expect a unique view of the sky brought down to Earth, the shimmering stars reflecting off the water at one of the many riverside campsites.

  • Site: St Joe, AR 72675

5 Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park became a Dark Sky Place in 2016, and it’s close to several other high-impact locations like Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Park. While all of these designated spots are great for sky-gazing, Goblin Valley offers a more secluded star show. The landscape is covered with thousands of towering sandstone “goblins” and is one of the most concentrated places of fairy chimneys in the whole world. Visitors can bring their own tents or book one of the two yurts available for camping.

  • Address: Goblin Valley Road, Green River, UT 84525

4 Prineville Reservoir State Park

The Prineville Reservoir State Park recently became a designated dark sky location in May of this year. It is part of the Oregon High Desert, over 3,000 feet above sea level. Campers will literally be closer to the stars at Prineville Reservoir, enjoying the contours of tree-strewn desert mounds. illuminated by the night sky. It’s open for camping year round, with responsibly lit campsites and primitive camping available.

  • Address: Prineville Reservoir State Park, Prineville, OR 97754

3 Kissimmee Prairie Preserve

Away from Disneyworld, the beautiful Kissimmee Prairie Preserve was named its own majestic Dark Sky Kingdom in 2016. The 54,000-acre reserve is one of Florida’s largest parks. Unlike the swampy parts of South Florida, the park is a dry prairie with vast expanses of grassland that is home to several endangered species. Reserve a special observation point for astronomy, where fires are prohibited and only red spectrum lights are allowed to ensure ideal stargazing conditions.

  • Address: 33104 NW 192nd Ave, Okeechobee, FL 34972

2 Cherry Springs State Park

Cherry Springs State Park was designated a Dark Sky Place in 2008. As the darkest place in the eastern United States, it is the perfect location for breathtaking views of the Milky Way, which would be so bright here that it casts a shadow. Depending on the time of year, visitors can also see the Northern Lights at Cherry Springs. Campers staying overnight at the astronomical observation field must register in advance and pay a fee, which is a small price to pay for such a spectacular view, especially if you manage to catch an observation capsule stars.

  • Address: 4639 Cherry Springs Rd, Coudersport, PA 16915

1 Cosmic campground

Located near the unspoiled New Mexico wilderness, Cosmic Campground was designated a Dark Sky Place in 2016. The site is a popular spot for astrophotographers due to the unobstructed view and lack of light pollution. It is recommended to arrive before dark so that the headlights do not prevent the visitor from fully enjoying the view. Primitive campsites are first come, first served, and quiet night times are in place to ensure a peaceful experience for those watching at night.

  • Address: 18 Ranger Station Road, Glenwood, NM 88039

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