By: Sorcha Szczerbiak
From hummingbirds to flowers in full bloom, the natural world is full of marvels best appreciated during full daylight. However, you’ll find just as much — or more — to appreciate after dark. The summer is an ideal time to try stargazing on your next camping trip. You can get started without even leaving your tent.
Not sure where to go to start gazing? Plan your destination by using a dark sky map to find areas with the least amount of light pollution. Some of these tools offer information about parking areas, current weather, and other specifics to help you make a good choice about where to go.
Should You Head to a National Park for Stargazing and Camping This Summer?
Consider heading to a National Park on your stargazing adventure to gaze at 2 beautiful things at once. Many of them rank among the best places for setting your sights on the stars, and camping while you’re there.
Some things are better at night. People familiar with Southern Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve often say “half the park is after dark,” because of the abundant stargazing opportunities. The park’s website even has a specific guide to help you spot the Milky Way and other wonders.
We believe all types of stars deserve to be gazed at. Maine’s Acadia National Park is another standout destination for seeing the — non celebrity-type — stars. Its website offers tips for taking part at various spots, including a sandy beach.
Nevada’s Great Basin National Park also frequently appears on best-of lists for stargazing at national parks. Park representatives say almost any location with an open horizon is a good spot. Just pitch your tent wherever you like, and boom, stars.
Tune Into the Weather and Lunar Cycles
Love the full moon? Well, if you want to see the stars, you’ll need to pay attention to lunar cycles, too. Stargazing during a new moon will give you the best results, while a full moon makes the stars less visible. If you want to see both, a crescent moon is best.
Just as clear weather makes fireworks displays and backyard barbecues more fun, it impacts stargazing, too. You don’t want a giant cloud coming between you and an otherwise excellent view of the Big Dipper, after all!
Download a Stargazing App
Got a smartphone? Of course you do. Before getting too far into the planning for a summer backpacking trip with stargazing, download an app to help you spot constellations like a pro — even if you can’t remember much from your elementary school science classes covering the night sky and its stars. Most apps work with your smartphone to determine your precise location. Aim the device skyward and instantly feel like you’ve got a professional astronomer at your side.
Pack a Mesh-Topped Tent
You’re almost ready to go! Once you’ve chosen a location, checked the forecast and moon details and downloaded at least one app, bring the right gear for a comfortable experience. Our mesh-topped tents let you admire the stars while lying in a warm sleeping bag. Their lightweight and easy-to-pitch design makes for a hassle-free backpacking experience whether alone or with friends.
You now know how to plan your next stargazing excursion. Following these tips will set you up for satisfying experiences that help you appreciate the nights sky in new ways. Now get out and reach for the stars!