Whether you’ve done it hundreds of times or you’re a first-timer, stargazing is incredible. It fills you with a sense of wonder and makes you feel connected to something much larger than yourself. Plus, the starry night sky is simply gorgeous to look at! Another great thing about stargazing is that anyone can do it, and it doesn’t require any special skills.
The only main requirement for stargazing is a dark sky, which means getting away from the light pollution commonly found in cities. California, with its sprawling and densely-populated metropolises, may not be top of mind when you think of the best places for stargazing. However, with a bit of research and effort, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by stargazing in California.
Whether you plan to road trip through California’s national parks
, do some urban sky-watching, or stargaze from a beach in southern California
, we’ve put together the state’s best destinations. Which one do you think offers the best stargazing experience in California?
Tips on Making Your Stargazing Experience More Memorable
Here are some tips to make the most out of your California stargazing experience.
- Seek out dark skies. State and national parks are usually excellent, especially for stargazing in California, as they’re well away from city lights and offer lots of open space.
- Check the weather. In addition to dark skies, you need clear skies for a great California stargazing experience. Avoid cloudy and/or rainy nights whenever possible.
- Stay out for at least 30 minutes. It takes your eyes some time to transition from light-polluted areas and fully adjust to the darkness. The longer you stay out, the more stars you’ll see.
- Learn the moon phases. Stargazing is best when the moon is at its smallest (or not visible at all), during the gibbous or crescent phases.
- Bring comfort items. This may sound obvious, but being comfortable can go a long way in elevating your evening of stargazing in California. Dress in layers and bring chairs, blankets, snacks, beverages, and a good playlist.
- Wear appropriate shoes. Stargazing means being out at night in fairly remote, undeveloped locations, so sturdy, protective footwear is a must.
- Use a printed chart. There are a ton of free apps and information online, but you don’t need technology (or the light pollution that comes with it) for stargazing. Find a simple, easy-to-use chart to print, like the ones from EarthSky Tonight.
Best Locations for Stargazing in Joshua Tree
is an iconic national park in southern California, situated in both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. It’s also an official International Dark Sky Park and boasts some of the best stargazing in California.
This legendary rock formation is easily accessible via driving and offers some of the park’s best and most interesting stargazing moments.
Pinto Basin Road
One of the best Joshua Tree stargazing experiences is the one that’s easily accessible. Stop anywhere between Cottonwood and the Cholla Cactus Garden, and simply look up.
RV parks nearby: Black Rock Campground
, Joshua Tree Lake
To enjoy the stars from Joshua Tree National Park in a camper, you can book your RV rental at Cruise America’s Indio location
Best Locations for Stargazing in Death Valley
Although its name is unfriendly and rather intimidating, Death Valley National Park
is home to some of the best stargazing spots in California. Some say it’s actually the best in the world!
Harmony Borax Works
Easily accessible from the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, this area has unobstructed sky views for epic Death Valley stargazing moments.
You’ll find some of the park’s darkest skies from this enormous crater, which measures 600 feet deep by a half-mile across.
RV parks nearby:
There are several RV campgrounds near the park, like Furnace Creek
and Stovepipe Wells
. Note that many are open seasonally, based largely on their elevation.
If you’re looking for a Cruise America rental location in the Death Valley area, the Las Vegas
office is the nearest one.
Best Locations for Stargazing in Anza-Borrego
Two hours east of San Diego in California’s largest state park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
, you’ll find what many consider the best stargazing spots in the world.
This area offers such an awesome Anza Borrego stargazing experience that it’s commonly referred to as “Astronomy Way.”
Carrizo Badlands Overlook
This overlook in the park’s southernmost badlands is paved and easily accessible, making it one of the best Anza-Borrego stargazing spots.
RV parks nearby: Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort
, Borrego Palm Canyon Campground
There are several convenient Cruise America rental locations near Anza Borrego, including Spring Valley
Best Locations for Stargazing in Yosemite
With dramatic rock formations in the Sierra Mountains and exceptionally clear skies, Yosemite National Park offers some of the best stargazing sites in California.
Sentinel Dome offers just-as-spectacular views as Glacier Point (the most popular stargazing Yosemite site) but with fewer crowds.
Find unobstructed views and almost nonexistent crowds at Bass Lake
, which is just a half-hour trip from Yosemite’s south entrance.
RV parks nearby: Yosemite Lakes RV Resort
, Bass Lake at Yosemite RV Park
Pick up your rental RV in Fresno
and head straight to the park for stargazing in Yosemite!
Best Locations for Stargazing in the Bay Area
The Bay Area probably doesn’t come to mind when you think of stargazing, but there are actually several amazing spots here!
Muir Woods Overlook
It’s hard to believe you’re just outside San Francisco at this idyllic overlook. The beach down below also offers excellent stargazing experiences in the Bay Area.
Point Reyes National Seashore
On clear nights, the beaches along this vast national park offer some of the best stargazing locations in California.
RV parks nearby: Marin RV Park
, Olema Campground
Pick up a Cruise America RV in San Francisco
or San Mateo
for your California stargazing adventure.
Best Locations for Stargazing in Palm Springs
Aside from its proximity to Death Valley, Borrego Springs, and Joshua Tree National Park stargazing, Palm Springs has several of its own in-town opportunities.
Whitewater Canyon Preserve
Just 30 minutes north of town, Whitewater Canyon
offers some of the most accessible stargazing Palm Springs has to offer.
Rancho Mirage Observatory
This research facility in Rancho Mirage
offers tours and stargazing parties and has a full-time astronomer onsite.
RV parks nearby: Happy Traveler RV Park
, Desert Springs RV Park
Pick up your Cruise America rental RV in Indio
for the best stargazing Palm Spring experience!
Best Locations for Stargazing in Orange County
Situated between San Diego and LA, it can be tricky to find skies dark enough for stargazing in Orange County — but certainly not impossible.
Crescent Bay Beach
It’s hard to top beach stargazing
in southern California! Laguna Beach’s Crescent Bay is in a sheltered cove, where light pollution is at a minimum.
Irvine Open Space Preserve
Accessible trails and expansive views make this an ideal destination for stargazing in Orange County.
RV parks nearby: Moro Campground at Crystal Cove State Park
, Newport Dunes
Reserve your RV in Costa Mesa
to make SoCal stargazing even better!
Best Locations for Stargazing in San Diego
Dark skies aren’t usually synonymous with some of the country’s largest major cities. With some effort, though, you’ll find excellent San Diego stargazing sites.
You wouldn’t expect one of the city’s top attractions to also offer great stargazing in San Diego, but it does! Fleet Science Center
even holds monthly stargazing events.
Not even an hour from San Diego, the 4,000-foot Mount Laguna offers some of the best stargazing sites in southern California.
RV parks nearby:
For the best San Diego stargazing, boondock overnight
at Laguna Campground
is the closest and most convenient Cruise America rental location for San Diego.
Best Locations for Stargazing in Torrey Pines
Torrey Pines is a true urban oasis. It protects its namesake, the rare Torrey pine, and is home to wildlife and dark skies — ideal for stargazing.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Beach
Pack some blankets and walk down to the beach for spectacular Torrey Pines stargazing.
Torrey Pines Gliderport
Drive right up to this free spot, where you’ll enjoy unobstructed sky views from the cliffs above La Jolla.
RV parks nearby: San Elijo State Beach
, Surf and Turf RV Park
Cruise America has convenient RV rental locations in Spring Valley
Best Locations for Stargazing in Borrego Springs
Borrego Springs is the state’s only certified International Dark Sky Community
, which means it has some of the best stargazing locations in California.
Borrego Springs’ famous animal sculptures
Over 130 enormous metal sculptures
surround Borrego Springs. Many are perfect for stargazing just outside of town on dirt roads.
Borrego Springs County Park tennis courts
The courts have blackout screens to block park lights, so this hidden gem is amazing for Borrego Springs stargazing
RV parks nearby: Leapin’ Lizard RV Park, The Springs at Borrego
Make your Borrego Springs stargazing even better when you pick up a Cruise America RV in Indio
Enjoy a Starry Adventure in a Cruise America RV
So, are you feeling inspired to begin planning your trip to stargazing in California? Great! Now all that’s left to do is reserve your Cruise America
RV rental and decide on your first stop.
With over 130 convenient North American rental locations and several amenity-packed RV models
to choose from, it’s never been easier to hit the road. Contact us
today to take the first step toward an unforgettable California stargazing trip!