The first time I really saw stars I screamed. I ran out onto the beach calling my travel companion to come look. We had found ourselves a small tent placed in a straw hut on the coast of the Peninsula de Osa in Costa Rica’s south region. As a child I remembered seeing stars, but never like this – they were everywhere. Millions of tiny lights fighting to out shine the other. They were fighting to illuminate the deep, dark, night sky. A surge of emotions filled my body along with the cool, salty, breeze off the ocean’s water. I couldn’t have stumbled upon a more romantic place on Earth and there I was spending it with one of my best friends and travel companions. For the first time on our entire vacation I wished to curl my knees up to my chest and be left alone. If I couldn’t share the moment with a handsome stud then I wanted to have it all for myself. Selfish – I know.
That night I wished on not one star, but many. One of my wishes was for more places to see stars the way I did on that very night, so when I saw the latest Nat Geo Adventure magazine featuring some of the best stargazing in America I snatched it off the shelves. Their June/July issue covers the best and top 50 in North America’s National Parks. Before you discover where to go to sleep, trek, raft or gaze underneath the stars, the article titled Night Rangers discusses a unit of National Park Service folk who are out to protect the night time sky. Their duties are incredible and the story in full is packed with mind-boggling facts. According to the article 99 percent of peoplein the U.S. live under a sky that is considered polluted, which means none of us are seeing the stars for what they’re worth. In addition to light-pollution the article also states, Scientists at the Thiene, Italy – based Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute have predicted that the last truly dark areas in the contiguous U.S. will be gone by 2025. If such is true then we haven’t very long.
Here are some of the best stargazing destinations in America and how to experience them:
- Lake Tahoe – Take off on a full moon paddle excursion.
- Bryce Canyon – Spend your summer nights hiking the canyon.
- Pennsylvania’s Lehigh River – Raft through whitewaters under the stars.
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park – Use powerful telescopes to stargaze.
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park – Check out some 300,000 Mexican free-tailed bats as they fly away from the caves and back.
You’ll want to grab an issue of your own if you haven’t already. If you have a favorite stargazing destination you’d like to share – please do. Otherwise I’ll understand.