This August, the yearly Perseid meteor shower will light up the sky, treating us to some radiant night-scenes as it peaks on August 12. There's something special about gazing up into the night sky and seeing all the pinpricks of light another world away. You feel small but extraordinary. Stargazing in the USA is just something else. With its wide-open spaces in stunning national parks, stargazing Stateside is up there as one of the worlds best experiences. So, here's our roundup of the very best places to stargaze in the US and make the most of this year's famous meteor shower....
Reminder: these pics are enhanced and were taken by professional photographers who know heaps about exposure and stuff. The stars don't look ~exactly~ the same in these spots just using your own two eyes.
Yellowstone National Park
We might be biased given Yellowstone’s one of the camping locations we visit with Contiki but that’s the reason we go. It’s up there as one of the best places to stargaze in the whole of the US thanks to its remote location, away from the smog of the bright lights and big cities. That makes for super clear, star-studded skies that’ll dazzle you. Old Faithful, the Grand Prismatic Pool and Mount Washburn are some key spots for the best views.
Check it out on Yellowstone & Grand Tetons
Grand Canyon National Park
It’s one of the most popular daytime destinations in the US but this arid Arizona desert lights up at night, making the Grand Canyon one of the best places to stargaze in the US. Like Yellowstone, there’s a distinct lack of light pollution here which means you can see shooting stars, galaxies, and planets for miles. You can even hike its base at night for a unique, other-wordly experience.
Nestled in California’s famous Yosemite National Park, Mammoth Lakes is part of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and described as “one of those rare places that you have to see to still not totally believe”. It’s an ideal spot for star watching with lake and forest vistas. Yosemite is one the best places to stargaze in the US because there’s just so many areas to do it well here!
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton in Jackson, Wyoming is another gem – not least because of those diamonds that light up the night sky. Head to the Alaska Basin where you’ll be spoilt with smatterings of up to 6000 stars on a moonless night.
Also found on our Yellowstone & Grand Tetons trip.
Also in the Yosemite National Park, Glacier Point gives you more of an eagle eyed view as you can get up high onto the mountains and see places like Half Dome and Nevada Falls. A great spot for uninterrupted views of the stars and full immersion in nature.
More desert than forest, Joshua Tree is in Southern California’s Mojave Desert pretty close to where bucket list festival Coachella is held. The unique scrub and rock formations make it a truly stunning place to see the stars at night.
Denali National Park
Another one of the best places to stargaze in the US is Denali National Park in Alaska. It’s truly unique because not only can you stargaze on the edge of the continent, but you can also spot the Northern Lights here at certain times of the year! It’s a pretty damn special spot in our opinion.
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Back to the desert and Bryce Canyon is just as epic by night as it is by day. The Canyon’s strange rock formations and many points to sit and watch from make it a prime viewing spot, and another of the best places to stargaze in the US.
You don’t have to go totally off the grid to see the stars, Silverthorne in Colorado is a town nestled among the mountains that also happens to have great hikes and plenty of opportunities to gaze into the abyss that is the universe at night.
Finally, to round off the list of THE best places to stargaze in the US with a bang: A dormant volcano in Hawaii sounds pretty cool right? Well it is, AND it’s the highest point in Hawaii meaning you will literally get as close as you possibly can to the stars (without flying to space). The best part? They have a big observatory up there and stargazing tours for beginners. What are you waiting for?!