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The Best Stargazing Spots for Backpackers

Pitch your tent in one of these 9 parks for a prime view of the cosmos.

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Take a hike in dry, sunny Southern California to get away from the big city lights. Camp in any previously used area at least two miles from any road…

Take a hike in dry, sunny Southern California to get away from the big city lights. Camp in any previously used area at least two miles from any road for sweeping views of the night sky. [image: James Marvin Phelps/Flickr]

The 4WD drive backcountry roads will allow you access to primitive sites, or you can hoof it into the Chisos Mountains and pitch your tent there…

The 4WD drive backcountry roads will allow you access to primitive sites, or you can hoof it into the Chisos Mountains and pitch your tent there instead. Either way, be sure to look up! [image: Vincent Lock/Flickr]

Arrive early to grab a spot in the small campground at Utah’s first national monument.  Go for a night hike on the Owachomo Bridge trail for this…

Arrive early to grab a spot in the small campground at Utah’s first national monument. Go for a night hike on the Owachomo Bridge trail for this view, or try the Sipapu Bridge Trail for night sky panoramas beneath the second largest natural bridge in the world. [image: NPS]

Enjoy the pristine, light pollution-free night sky framed by millennia-old geologic formations and fossils. Camp anywhere you like in the park, but…

Enjoy the pristine, light pollution-free night sky framed by millennia-old geologic formations and fossils. Camp anywhere you like in the park, but just be sure to stay at least one-half mile from roads and trails. [image: Larry McAfee/NPS]

Recently named a 'dark sky park' by the International Dark Sky Association, this historic park boasts original Pueblo structures, petroglyphs, and…

Recently named a ‘dark sky park’ by the International Dark Sky Association, this historic park boasts original Pueblo structures, petroglyphs, and cliff dwellings. Gallo Campground is the prime real estate. [image: NPS]

Nab a spot at the small 31-site campground on the Utah side and take an evening cat nap before starting a nighttime hike along the surrounding…

Nab a spot at the small 31-site campground on the Utah side and take an evening cat nap before starting a nighttime hike along the surrounding trails. [image: NPS]

Hike through spectacular rock formations during the day, then head out into the desert for star chart-worthy views. Best bet: Ricardo Campground,…

Hike through spectacular rock formations during the day, then head out into the desert for star chart-worthy views. Best bet: Ricardo Campground, located at the base of towering red-rock cliffs. [image: Ian Norman/Flickr]

No stargazer list is complete without the Northern Lights, and where better to see them? Score a permit to any of Denali’s 87 backcountry units…

No stargazer list is complete without the Northern Lights, and where better to see them? Score a permit to any of Denali’s 87 backcountry units during the fall, winter or early spring to view spectacular stars and natural lights dancing across the sky. [image: NPS]

Catch a beautiful view of the Milky Way in this remote Pennsylvania park. Camp anywhere along the 85-mile Susquehannock Trail for uninterrupted…

Catch a beautiful view of the Milky Way in this remote Pennsylvania park. Camp anywhere along the 85-mile Susquehannock Trail for uninterrupted astronomy lessons. [image: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr]