Almost 80 percent of the population in North America lives in areas with so much light pollution that they can’t see much of the night sky. Artificial light from buildings, towns, and cities prevents us from seeing all but the brightest of stars and planets.
There are several places in the U.S. that have received the International Dark Sky certification for their efforts to eliminate as much light pollution as possible. Here, expect to see the night sky in a way you have never experienced before.
Tips for Making Your Dark Sky Experience More Memorable
Before rushing out into the nighttime, here are a few tips to make the most of your experience with the darkest skies in the U.S.
- Watch out for the moon. When there isn’t much artificial light around, the moon can still be a major source of light pollution in the night sky. Try a night with a New Moon for the darkest sky.
- Check air quality. Humidity can affect visibility in the night sky. Look for a night with low humidity such as in the winter or a dry desert.
- Adjust your eyes. Let your eyes adjust to the darkness. It can take 20 minutes for them to fully adjust.
- Bring flashlights. Once your eyes adjust, use a red light on your headlamp or flashlight if you need to move around as it will help maintain your eyes’ adaptation to the dark.
- No telescope is needed. If you’re new to stargazing, start with just your eyes. You’ll be amazed at what you can spy away from towns and cities. If you need some magnification, try a pair of binoculars (even the cheap kind)!
- Bring a map. Whether you use a smartphone app or a paper map, bring something to help you identify what you’re looking at and to orient you towards the heavens.
Now that you are equipped with some tips, let’s move on to the locations where you can find the darkest skies in the U.S.
5 of the Darkest Skies in the U.S.
Ready to finally catch a glimpse of the Milky Way? Read on for a breakdown of five of the darkest skies in the U.S.
Big Bend National Park
In the continental U.S., it may be difficult to find a national park with less light pollution than Big Bend in Texas. Far from the nearest towns, there is very little to interfere with gorgeous views of the stars and our galaxy.
RV Parks Nearby:
- Rio Grande Village RV Campground: This is the only RV camping spot in Big Bend National Park that has full hookups. Many other campgrounds in the area can accommodate reasonably sized RVs for dry camping.
- Stillwell’s Store and RV Park: Located just 8 miles north of the Persimmon Gap Entrance to Big Bend, expect big open skies in the desert. While many sites have full hookups and more still have electric and water hookups, there is no cellular reception and limited Wi-Fi.
Visit the Cruise America RV rental location in San Antonio to get started stargazing along the Rio Grande river.
Glacier National Park
Beside the stunning Glacier Lake, take in a dark sky blanketed with stars. If you would like a guide, Glacier National Park boasts excellent after-dark programming to illuminate the side of national parks that many visitors never get to see. Check out the Star Dome at St. Mary which features the largest telescope in Montana.
RV Parks Nearby:
- West Glacier RV Park: This newer RV park (built in 2019) has full hookups, fire pits, and green space at every campsite. In addition to being extremely close to the glacier, it is also close to great dining, shopping, and even mini-golf attractions in West Glacier Village.
- North American RV Park & Yurt Village: This RV park is only 5 miles west of the West Entrance of Glacier National Park. The RV sites are a mix of pull-through and back-in, but all have full hookups with 20/30 or 30/50 amp electricity. The guest lounge sets this RV park apart from others with free coffee, games, and TV in a comfortable setting.
You can drive away in a safe and comfortable rental RV from Cruise America at the Bozeman, MT location.
Death Valley, CA
Death Valley has a gold tier rating for stargazing in the U.S. because almost the entire valley region is a dark zone. The view of the stars will be incredible from any area of the park, but try a crater or basin between mountains to block out additional light for the darkest skies.
RV Parks Nearby:
- Beatty RV Park: Technically in Nevada, Beatty RV Park is still an excellent home base for taking in Death Valley. Enjoy full hookups, free Wi-Fi, and on-site laundry facilities at this Wild West RV park.
- Shoshone Village RV Park: The perfect place to unwind, Shoshone Village is next to a warm spring swimming pool. There are 25 full hookup sites and most importantly, plenty of shade at this RV park.
Pick up your Cruise America RV loaded with amenities from the nearest location in Las Vegas, NV.
Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument
Unlike the other parks on the list, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument has been designated an International Dark Skies Sanctuary. It is quite remote, which only enhances the spectacular views it offers of the night sky. The location has some of the darkest skies you will find east of the Mississippi River as there are no electric lights within its entire 87,000 acres.
RV Parks Nearby:
- Wilderness Edge Campground: Wilderness Edge Campground is located between two beautiful natural areas and has 33 RV sites with water and electric hookups. An on-site store is available for and supplies you may have forgotten.
- Katahdin Shadows Campground & Cabins: Find full hookup RV sites, as well as electric/water-only sites, at this beautiful campground situated along the river. For families traveling together, lots of fun awaits in the pool and playground on-site.
Make yourself at home amongst the moose of Northern Maine with a Cruise America rental RV from the nearest location in Worcester, MA.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park was certified as an official International Dark Sky Park in 2019, and its dedication to preserving a dark night sky is evident as you drive the scenic roads of the park. Other than a couple small amenities, Arches has very little artificial lighting so you can make the most of the great air quality and some of the darkest skies in the U.S.
RV Parks Nearby:
- Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground: Moab Valley is loaded with incredible amenities such as a hot tub, pool, and even a putting green. Enjoy cable and Wi-Fi at a pet-friendly RV site with full hookups just a few minutes away from the entrance to Arches.
- Spanish Trail RV Park: Take in cliffside views from a shady, scenic RV campsite at Spanish Trail. The pool and lounge are beautiful amenities. Park your RV in one of their large grassy sites with full hookups and relax only a few miles from downtown Moab.
Get started on your red rocks adventure with a rental RV from Cruise America just outside of Salt Lake City, UT.
Camp Beneath the Stars With an RV Rental
There is much more to the night sky than just the biggest brightest stars. With the right conditions and little to no light pollution, the entire night sky comes alive. More stars and other phenomena can be seen with a telescope, binoculars, or even just the naked eye.
Park yourself closer to the magic of space in a Cruise America RV rental. Contact Cruise America today to get started planning your next getaway under the stars.