Hike to New Heights: The 10 Best Trails for Stargazing

Exploring the best hiking trails for beautiful starscapes in the U.S.

Unfortunately, many Americans will never see a complete, unpolluted sky. It is estimated that only about 10 percent of the population is able to see the natural night sky without any added light pollution. And light pollution is everywhere around us. From the more obvious landmarks like Times Square or Tokyo, to even smaller metropolitan areas.

Comparing even a small rural town to a small metropolitan city is an incredible difference. Darkness is hard to come by, and like any form of pollution, light pollution disrupts the ecosystems and has many negative effects.

So, since the 1980s a movement has been in effect called the global dark-sky movement. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is leading the movement in campaigns to reduce the amount of light pollution.

Many of the trails, that have made this list are a part of park systems that are named by the IDA as International Dark Sky Parks (IDSP). These parks serve to remind the public that that the nighttime sky and environment are as important to us as the daylight. By using quality outdoor lighting, we can work to keep the night sky as dark as it should be.

Related: Top Spots for Stargazing Out West

And with this movement, and the naming of specific parks and areas that work hard to keep the starscape stunning and seen, it is even more reason to work harder to keep it darker at night. Because after you’ve seen one of these starscapes, you will find as much beauty as you would from the sun. Appreciate nature, and the sky that keeps us all in check at these 10 hiking trails with the best stargazing sights. 

Castle Trail, Badlands National Park

This moderate 10 mile trail in South Dakota passes along some beautiful badlands formations. Above the skies are open and dark, perfect for stargazing.

Chimneys Trail, Big Bend National Park
(Flickr/Vincent Lock)

There's nothing quite like the open sky in a bare, rocky desert in Texas. Experience a vast starry night on this beautiful trail. 

Click here to see 8 more hiking trails for incredible stargazing.

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