There is nothing quite like witnessing a starry night sky. Light pollution in cities and urban areas makes it almost impossible to realize that there are planets, stars, meteors, shooting stars, and the milky way all shining in the sky each night. To witness the breathtaking show of our solar system you are going to want to be in the right place, and that is a dark sky area. The International Dark Sky Association certifies parks across the world as ‘Dark Sky Parks’ highlighting the darkest and therefore best locations to visit for stargazing. In the United States alone you can find over 80 designated parks and visiting them in an RV is the best way to make the most out of this experience.
Stargazing is a great activity to connect with the outdoors. What makes these locations dark is in essence their remoteness. Many are National or State Parks and nature preserves that encompass miles and miles of pristine ecosystems. Access to these areas is limited and accommodations are even more difficult to find. That’s where RVing comes in. RV’s offer a convenient and comfortable way to stargaze in dark sky parks. These tiny homes on wheels allow you to enjoy the comfort and amenities of home while being parked quite literally anywhere. Think campgrounds in National Parks or public land in dark sky locations.
5 Best Dark Sky Parks for RVing
With so many parks to choose from it’s easy to not know where to start. Although all the certified parks are great options to explore the night sky, some stand out as the best park to visit with an RV.
Joshua Tree National Park, CA
This high desert park in California is a favorite pick amongst astronomy lovers. The park offers three campground options that make it easy to find yourself amongst the stars. Joshua Tree National Park is also known for unexplainable night activities like UFO sightings. This is easy to-get-to park that has adventure activities while still being off-grid enough for a clear dark sky.
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
This park in rural northeastern Arizona is a hidden gem. Its off-the-beaten-path location offers great night skies in a less crowded environment. Finding places to RV camp in this area is easy with campgrounds both inside and outside the park. Disconnect from the lights and explore this ancient desert landscape.
Big Bend National Park, TX
With the least light pollution out of any national park in the lower 48 states, Big Bend is worth the journey. This park in Texas offers easy RV camping options, lots of daily adventures, and a view of the dark sky sure to leave you breathless. One of the best parts about this park is just how remote it is, and this shines even more on a dark night.
Natural Bridges National Monument, UT
Is one of the first locations to receive the dark sky certification and there is no question why. This remote and not-so-popular location is at the top of the best locations for stargazing. This park is ranked among the darkest on the IDSA list. RV camping is also readily available here making it easy to experience this area in comfort.
Headlands International, MI
Along the northern shoreline of Lake Michigan, this park is sure to bring up a show at night. Home to the Dark Sky Discovery Trail this northern Michigan park has had multiple northern light sightings. Headlands International is a fantastic place for dazzling views of Orion and the Milky Way. RV camping is more limited here than in other locations but the trip is very much worth it.
How to make the most of your experience
To ensure you make the most out of your trip there are a few things to consider. Firstly, make sure to check the weather and learn about the ideal environmental conditions of the area. A clear sky is key, using services like Clear Outside can help you prepare ahead of time. The best time for dark sky adventures is during the new moon, since the sky is the darkest during this time. Plan your trip around the new moon calendar to ensure maximum visibility. Lastly, don’t forget to make the most resources available to you. All of these parks have visitor centers that can provide information on astronomy workshops, night hikes, astrophotography, moon festivities, and other nighttime offerings.
Stargazing is a great activity to add to your adventures. And the best way to explore these remote areas is with an RV! At the end of the day, stargazing is an activity that gets you outside and helps you unplug from everyday life. Research proves time and time again that spending time outdoors is good for our overall health.
So, where will you be stargazing next?