Summer’s The Right Time… To Stargaze In A Dark Sky Preserve

Idaho Dark Sky Reserve Photo by: ©Nils Ribi Photography

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Compared to city living, the great outdoors afford us an opportunity to test our limits against natural obstacles like mountains through via ferrata or rivers by river surfing. That’s all good, but sometimes you need to slow down and just take it all in. Unplug, unwind, and just be plain ole’ one with nature. So, as the sun sets below the horizon inhale a crisp, clean breath of fresh air and look up at a star canvas. And when it comes to the best places to stargaze in the US look no further than a Dark Sky Preserve.

What Is A Dark Sky Preserve?

Only a century ago, every person on the planet could step outside their home and look up to a wondrous sky filled with stars. Unfortunately, as suburban sprawl continues to expand, millions may never experience the Milky Way due to the excessive use of outdoor light. Well, that’s where the dark sky preserve comes in. A group of individuals known as the International Dark Sky Park program has sought out and certified parks as well as public lands that possess exceptional starry skies and natural nocturnal habitat where there’s little no light pollution. If you haven’t planned a summer getaway from the chaos of daily life, these two dark sky preserves are some of the best places to stargaze in the US.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park

Dark Sky Preserve Michigan
Photo by: Sarah House – Image appears courtesy: Headlands International Dark Sky Park

You might guess that Michigan with its cities and resort towns wouldn’t be home to a dark sky preserve. Well, guess again. In fact, in 2011 the Headlands International Dark Sky Park was one of only TEN international dark sky parks in the world at that time. Sitting on a 550-acre parcel of land overlooking the straits of Mackinaw, it features two miles of undeveloped beach providing a great summer vacation spot both during the day AND night.

Dark Sky Preserve Michigan Northern Lights
The Northern Lights – Image appears courtesy: Headlands International Dark Sky Park

Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve

With a sparse population and wide-open spaces, Idaho is the ultimate getaway when it comes to outdoor adventure. So, it should come as no surprise that it’s also home to the first American Dark Sky Reserve – the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. Think of the designations similar to a state park, national park, and a wildlife refuge. A Dark Sky Reserve means that it goes out of its way to ensure nature is in charge not mankind when it comes to the nightly light show. Right in the center of the Sawtooth Range, between Ketchum and Stanley and covering a swath of over 1,400 square miles, it may take a bit of work to walk into it, but like any natural phenomenon, it’s well worth the effort. Don’t believe us? Check out Steve Graepel’s experience on Visit Idaho’s homepage.

Idaho Dark Sky Reserve
Photo by: ©Nils Ribi Photography

As Henry David Thoreau once said, “Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” We happen to agree. If you do visit one of these places, be sure to follow their strict guidelines of making sure the night isn’t spoiled by too much light. Not near Idaho or Michigan? Be sure to check out the International Dark Sky Park program for your closest spot to take in the “show.”

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