More people than ever before are living in big cities, and both light pollution and busy lives can rob them of the feeling of pure serenity from gazing up at the heavens at night. This is why it is important for people to break away and head out to a place like Arizona, where they can take in the beauty of an unblemished night sky and take stock of their place in the universe. While most people only think of cacti and the Grand Canyon when they think of Arizona, stargazers know there’s far more than meets the eye in the 48th state.
Stargazing in Arizona is actually an old tradition, with major telescopes hosted on mountain ranges throughout the state. “Dark Sky” communities like Tucson, Flagstaff, and Sedona provide the best possible environment for hobbyists and professional astronomers alike. If this sounds appealing, it’s time to go stargazing in Arizona.
Tips on Making Your Stargazing Experience More Memorable
Here are some tips to make stargazing in Arizona even more unforgettable.
- Familiarize yourself with constellations and the times the planets, stars, and moon are more visible, so you know when and where to look — and what to look for.
- Avoid moonlit nights unless you’re specifically moon gazing. A full-on lunar glow makes it harder to see all the stars and planets in the sky.
- Put your phone on silent mode. Notifications can make you miss that meteorite burning up just above the horizon.
- You’ll need a flashlight to get to some stargazing spots. Invest in a red flashlight to ensure that your eyes adjust to the dark quickly and are ready to soak in the beauty of the stars.
- Serious stargazers (e.g., those who want to see Jupiter’s moons or the rings of Saturn) should invest in a telescope, though more casual gazers can get by with a pair of binoculars.
Now let’s have a look at some of the ideal spots for stargazing in Arizona.
Best Locations for Stargazing in Sedona
Beautiful Sedona is known mostly for its red rock buttes and vortex tourism, but its location in Arizona — and its status as a Dark Sky community — make it a perfect stargazing site. To find stargazing spots in Sedona, just look for spectacular nighttime views from any of the city’s numerous trailheads. If you’re heading to Sedona in an RV
, we’ve also noted some of the best campgrounds to park nearby.
Jordan Trailhead Observing Area
Just off the parking lot near this trailhead is a large field with ample space to set up a temporary stargazing post.
Turkey Creek Trailhead
Located in Oak Creek, just south of Sedona, this trailhead’s parking area and isolated location make it an ideal Sedona stargazing spot.
RV Parks Nearby: Rancho Sedona RV Park
, Sedona View RV Resort
To see Sedona in all its daytime and nighttime splendor, RV rentals from Cruise America in Flagstaff
Best Locations for Stargazing in Flagstaff
With its high elevation and wide-open rural surroundings, Flagstaff — another Dark Sky community — is one of the best places in the country to go stargazing. Fun fact: The dwarf planet Pluto was discovered from Flagstaff’s Lowell Observatory!
When it comes to Flagstaff stargazing sites, this one’s a no-brainer. Visit the Lowell Observatory on a Friday night for Cosmic Questions, and take the opportunity to see constellations through one of their six high-powered telescopes.
A short drive north of Flagstaff will bring you to the Arizona Snowbowl, which in winter is a prime skiing spot. During summer, its parking lot plays host to numerous stargazers like yourself. On a clear night, the sky is truly the limit here.
RV Parks Nearby: J & H RV Park
, Flagstaff KOA Holiday
Located on US-89 and right near the historic Route 66, Cruise America’s Flagstaff location can help you find an RV rental
to see Northern Arizona by day, by night, and always in style!
Best Locations for Stargazing in Phoenix
When it comes to stargazing in Phoenix, you might not think that there are many options, owing to its urban sprawl. However, those keen on finding stargazing opportunities in the Valley of the Sun won’t have to look too hard or go too far from the hustle and bustle.
Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch
Located in the Phoenix metro area town of Gilbert, the Riparian Preserve is a lake park with an observatory. Gilbert’s dark-sky policies ensure light pollution is kept to a minimum, making this area ideal for stargazing.
Estrella Mountain Regional Park
Stargazing Phoenix residents know to head out to this park, located about 20 minutes away from downtown Phoenix in Goodyear. Let the darkness envelope you as you behold the glory of the nighttime sky in a wild, untouched dark oasis.
RV Parks Nearby: Desert’s Edge RV Park
, Twin Palms RV Park
It’s easy to find an RV rental in the Phoenix area
, which is Cruise America’s home base!
Best Locations for Stargazing in Tucson
The headquarters of the International Dark-Sky Association is located in Arizona’s second-largest city, Tucson. Thus, as you can imagine, Tucson’s stargazing opportunities abound.
Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium
Located on the University of Arizona campus, Flandrau is home to an observatory where visitors can look through a 16-inch-telescope. Volunteers operate the center, so call before you visit to check if it’s open.
Oracle State Park
North of Tucson, Oracle State Park is an International Dark Sky Park, offering visitors the chance to see the Milky Way
on a clear night!
RV Parks Nearby: Sentinel Peak RV Park
, Tucson/Lazydays KOA Resort
If you’re in need of an RV rental in Tucson, Cruise America’s Tucson
branch can help!
Best Locations for Stargazing in the Grand Canyon
While most would say that the Grand Canyon is best experienced during the day, stargazers would claim the opposite. Far from Arizona’s major population centers, the Grand Canyon (and the highway leading to it) provides unparalleled stargazing experiences.
Mather Point, a short walk from the visitors center, is a wonderful nighttime viewing spot for stargazing in the Grand Canyon. You can pitch a tent in any campgrounds nearby and ask a ranger to help identify the local Navajo tribe’s giant constellations.
Bright Angel Point
Located on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (only seen by 10% of Grand Canyon visitors), Bright Angel Point has a paved trail on which you can position yourself and commune with the stars.
RV Parks Nearby: Trailer Village RV Park
, Grand Canyon Railway RV Park
Depending on where you’re starting, Cruise America RV rental locations in both the Phoenix
area and Flagstaff
are at your service!
Relish in a Starry Adventure in a Cruise America RV
As you can see, Arizona really is a stargazing country year-round, and there’s no better way than in an RV to experience all that the Grand Canyon State has to offer for stargazers. If you don’t have an RV of your own, not to worry. With its fleet of modern and comfortable rental RVs
, Cruise America can help get you to all of state 48’s astronomical and literal hotspots.
Get in touch with Cruise America
today to get on the road with your telescope and see what Arizona’s night skies are all about. Visit any of the Cruise America branches