Epic Stargazing Destinations
Collected by AFAR Traveler, AFAR Contributor
"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena," said Carl Sagan. As travelers, we live our lives exploring this stage. But there are places here on earth where the night sky can serve as a reminder of the unknown worlds beyond our pale blue dot of a planet. There's so much exploring to be done.
Lake Tekapo, Canterbury 7999, New Zealand
Even on a cloudy day, Lake Tekapo's brilliant shades of blue are caused by "rock flour" - finely ground particles of rock from the glaciers at the head of the lake and suspended in the melt water. The treeline is comprised of Monterey Pines which...
Maroon-Snowmass Trail, Aspen, CO 81611, USA
Aspen is a playground for the active traveler. No matter how many times I visit, I always set aside time to bike to Maroon Bells. Rent a bike from the Hub, a cycling store in town, and be sure to bring a water bottle and even some snacks for...
Bahía Bioluminiscente, Puerto Rico
This was the experience of a lifetime. We were fortunate to be there on the required dark night with no moon. We used see-through canoes to paddle to the middle of this inlet off the Caribbean at midnight. All wildlife in the very clear water was...
Sutherland, 6920, South Africa
Visiting the S.A.L.T. observatory was not on my list of things to do. In fact, I didn't know it existed until a member of our group shared about a dozen drinks with a staff member at a bar in Sutherland the night before, a pit stop on our wild...
Mt Pinos, California 93225, USA
Star gazing is one of life's simplest but deepest pleasures, but city living can often hamper this by the sheer enormity of artificial light it gives off. At the top of Mt. Frazier, astronomers and star enthusiasts find a measure of peace and...
Glacier Point Rd, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, USA
Located 3,200 feet above Half Dome Village, Glacier Point offers some of the best views in the park to the high country beyond. The View Terrace looks out to Half Dome, Vernal Fall, and Nevada Fall as well as Liberty Cap to the east, while the...
Mount John, Canterbury 7999, New Zealand
Thanks to very little light pollution, especially in the remote corners of the South Island, gazing up at a clear night sky in New Zealand will leave you breathless and stunned. In the Southern Alps in the Mackenzie Basin near Lake Tekapo, the...
Naval Observatory, Washington, DC 20392, USA
Washington DC is home to the Naval Observatory, the official source of time for the US military and by extension, the country. Computers, cellphones and cable TV boxes all have their clocks set to the time kept here. The observatory offers tours...
Giza Governorate, Egypt
Almost two hours west of Cairo you'll notice the urban skyline has long disappeared and the desert has taken over. This is the desert of Fayoum where - once you enter the protected area - sand surrounds you for as far as the eye can see and dark...
Mormon Row, Wyoming, USA
One of the most exciting facets of life on the road is finding new ways to look at frequently photographed locations. Mormon Row is iconic Americana, right up there with the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, and the Welcome to Las Vegas sign,...
2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027, USA
Sitting near Mount Hollywood in Griffith Park, the Griffith Observatory has a vantage point that allows visitors great views of the HOLLYWOOD sign during the day, and even more fantastic views of the stars at night. The space has plenty...
Borrego Springs, CA 92004, USA
Borrego Springs is a nationally designated "dark sky" community. Because there is hardly any light pollution, this is one of the best places in the country for star gazing. The sunset and sunrise colors here are gorgeous- this image was taken at...
Yulara NT 0872, Australia
The Sounds of Silence tour at Ayers Rock Resort begins at sunset, when the iconic rock formations of Uluru and Kata Tjuta glow fiery red. Take a short walk through the dunes to a panoramic viewpoint, then dine outdoors on Aussie fare, including...
Abisko Turist Station, 981 07 Abisko, Sweden
Around me was utter silence even though dozens of people were above and below me. Nearby towering mountains were coated in snow. Unnerving and eerie in one sense yet utterly humbling. The chairlift I was riding in had to be stopped for every...
Thar Desert, Rajasthan
So long as you don't mind a little bit of sand in your knickers, a night in the Thar Desert under a star lit sky is an experience unlike anything you've experienced in your entire life. We rode out into the desert on ill-tempered camels, bouncing...
Pinedale, WY 82941, USA
It was our final night of fun after three days of interacting with the locals of Pinedale, WY. The stars were amazing so we decided to check them out at a lake we had yet to see. A glow from the small town crept over the distant horizon and faded...
Lake Powell, United States
My uncle and I stood with my tripod on the lakeshore behind our houseboat, trying desperately to capture the massive red rock wall before us. It was one of my first lessons in night photography, and it wasn't going great: there just wasn't enough...
We love going to the high desert in California, usually out to Joshua Tree National Park. We rented a house in Yucca Valley, not far from the Park entrance, through VRBO.com in late December so we could make home-cooked meals in the evenings. In...
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