If you want to experience what many amateur astronomers consider the ultimate stargazing, visit one of these destinations – they are free from light pollution and provide magnificent views of the Milky Way.
Pennsylvania wilderness park boasts some of the darkest skies in the nation and holds an International Dark Sky Park Gold Level status; each spring they host a stargazing festival for visitors.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California offers some of the best stargazing spots. This national park preserves parts of two desert ecosystems: Colorado Desert and Mojave Desert. Colorado Desert features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo and other desert plants; Mojave Desert contains Joshua trees and yucca; while dark skies make this ideal for stargazing and night photography, particularly when the moon is low. Joshua Tree has several campgrounds to accommodate stargazers; pullouts inside roads also allow viewers to see stars above. At either entrance you’ll find maps or ranger-led programs offered by rangers who may offer ranger-led programs as well.
The park is best-known for its spectacular rock formations and tranquil oases, but at night its stunning night skies become even more captivating with bright stars and the Milky Way filling the night sky – drawing amateur astronomers and photographers to its shores. Keys View provides panoramic views over Coachella Valley, Palm Springs and even Mexico on clear days!
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the United States’s most stunning natural wonders, known for its Going-to-the-Sun Road that crosses Logan Pass over the Continental Divide and culminates at its highest point at 6,646 feet – when Glacier was at its peak it boasted more than 150 glaciers!
There are various ways to discover this beautiful National Park, designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. From driving iconic roads to taking hikes or even rafting rivers – there’s something here for everyone!
Glacier National Park features the Blackfeet Indian Reservation on its east side, providing visitors with various ways to connect with indigenous cultures. They can attend Native America Speaks presentations by members of Salish, Kootenai and Pend d’Oreille tribes or tour Sperry Chalet – two excellent opportunities for learning more about Native American ways of life.
Driving around Glacier National Park is an amazing experience, but for an alternative view you could try taking one of the Red Bus Tours along Going-to-the-Sun Road. These vintage buses feature canvas rollback tops to allow unobstructed views of its beautiful scenery.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
At 87,563 acres, this National Monument encompasses rugged mountains, dense forests and the East Branch Penobscot River; all elements that contribute to an exceptional wildlife experience and outdoor recreational opportunities.
Baxter State Park borders this rugged wilderness area, providing visitors with a real sense of remoteness. There are trails criss-crossing across its wild landscape as well as streams, rivers and woods providing endless canoeing, fishing and hiking opportunities.
The area boasts an abundance of wildlife, such as ruffed grouse, bears, moose and white-tailed deer. Trout fishing opportunities abound along streams and the East Branch Penobscot river while winter offers skiers and snowmobilers ample opportunity for exploration of nature.
For many years, NRCM has worked closely with local communities in the Katahdin region to explore its recreation and economic potential. Recently, Senator Angus King introduced bipartisan legislation designed to improve access to the Monument which could increase tourist activity and support more jobs in the region. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument Access Act will allow it to purchase land that better connects it to Millinocket community and major roadways.
The Hudson River Bridge
The Hudson River is a 315-mile river flowing north-to-south through eastern New York and offering spectacular views along its length. Its bridges offer breathtaking vantage points for viewing wildlife such as bald eagles, ospreys, herons, geese, gulls, cormorants and terns; there are also many fish species such as striped bass, alewife, shad and herring to be seen here.
The Hudson River Bridge is a breathtaking site at night, boasting full bicycle and pedestrian pathways on its upper deck, lighting to highlight bridge towers and six overlooks along its span, as well as music composed by Joseph Bertolozzi from local composer Joseph Bertolozzi’s compositions. Additionally, private events can use it with prior approval from the Bridge Authority.
Walk over the Hudson River Bridge and admire views of the Shawangunk Mountains from its eastern bank. Relax as boats pass under your feet or attend one of the concerts at Riverfront Park Amphitheater – this walk will leave you breathless!
Wellesley Island State Park
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Wellesley Island State Park in the Thousand Islands region of New York State is an unexplored gem that’s sure to amaze. Home to one of New York’s largest camping complexes, Wellesley Island State Park features a sandy swimming beach that’s lifeguarded during swimming season (late June through August), hiking and hunting trails, cross-country skiing programs and recreation programs – plus Minna Anthony Common Nature Center which has diverse habitats such as wooded wetlands, three miles of shoreline, granite outcrops with amazing views all open year-round for discovery by public.
The park’s marina boasts 150 boat slips and transient dockage for transient boat owners as well as transient dockage services, bait, tackle, ice, non-ethanol fuel and sewage pump out. Boat rentals for 14′ and 16′ boats are available May – October. Access is straightforward via I-81 north from Syracuse – simply exit after crossing the Thousand Islands Bridge; most points in Northeast will reach there within six hours!