America is home to some of the most stunning national parks, filled with incredible scenery, roaming wildlife and different terrain to explore, and if you're a lover of the night sky, these are some of the best spots in the world to witness the constellations.
Here at Under Lucky Stars, we create star maps of the constellations above, so that you can treasure your most magical moments. We’ve created a handy guide of every US national park, highlighting the best stargazing spots. From planning your next trip around the best places to bask in the beauty of the night sky to the stargazing spots which are closest to you, this ultimate stargazing guide has got you covered.
We analysed data to give each national park across America a ranking based on its accessibility (how easy the park is to get to by car), the annual footfall (to determine how busy the park may be which can impact stargazing) and the visibility of the night sky according to the Bortle scale (amount of light pollution).
Our ranking reveals that The Great Basin National Park is the best stargazing hot spot in the US. Spanning across Nevada, much of Oregon and Utah, and sections of California, Idaho, and Wyoming - The Great Basin is the largest area of contiguous endorheic watersheds in North America! With only 131,802 yearly visitors, this park is one of the best to stargaze from without being disturbed by other visitors.
Coming up second is the Big Bend National Park which is located in southwest Texas and borders Mexico. The Big Bend holds national significance as the largest protected area of Chihuahuan Desert topography and ecology in the United States. This park also includes the entire Chisos mountain range. Thanks to its vast surface area this park is one of the best parks to stargaze from as there is next to no light pollution.
In third place is the Redwood National and State Parks (RNSP) which lie along the coast of northern California. The RNSP consists of Redwood National Park, California’s Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwoods State Parks. The combined RNSP spans 139,000 acres and features old-growth temperate rainforests. Redwood National Park, just like the parks which came in first and second, scored highly across each of our ranking factors with easy accessibility, very low light pollution and a yearly footfall of 504,722 visitors.