For a trek loaded with Dark Sky Communities, there’s no better place to start than Flagstaff. Whether you drive or fly in, you’ll instantly feel closer to the clouds at an elevation of nearly 7,000 feet, making it the highest city in Arizona. Take the morning to settle into a more traditionally accommodating venue like the Little America Hotel
or choose any one of the more intimate, privately owned cabins or B&Bs such as the cheery Starlight Pines Bed & Breakfast
Once you’re ready to hit the trail, take a scenic 20-mile drive through the foothills of Humphrey’s Peak, Arizona’s highest point, to arrive at Lava River Cave
. Make sure you come prepared with closed-toed shoes, a headlamp, and jacket since the trail runs through a mile-deep cavern where the temperature hovers at about 40 degrees year-round. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head back into downtown Flagstaff. Treats like homemade bacon and craft coffee at the casual and cozy Tourist Home All Day Cafe
make it a great option for lunch. After nightfall, take in your first Dark Sky at the Lowell Observatory
where Pluto was discovered in 1930. Scan the stars through several famous telescopes on informative guided tours and visit the new Giovale Open Deck Observatory
, which offers VIP access to six advanced open-air telescopes.