Just because the sun goes down, doesn’t mean you have to stop exploring. Exploring outside beneath the stars, especially in a designated dark sky park, is one of the most incredible experiences you can have on a camping trip. An International Dark Sky Park is land designated by the International Dark-Sky Association that possesses an “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. The land may be publicly owned, or privately owned provided that the landowner(s) consent to the right of permanent, ongoing public access to specific areas included in the IDA designation.”
The International Dark Sky Association has designated over 50 Dark Sky Parks, including some that REI guides in. Here are a few of our favorites.
If you want to see the best stars, stay up late and allow your eyes to adjust to the dark for 10-45 minutes. This means turn off all headlamps, phones or flashlights. Then look up and be mesmerized.
You’ve got to earn the stars.
Night exploration is best done spontaneously, with a big moon and good energy. Exploring under a full moon is like being in a black and white movie. You can see shadows, definition and the whole landscape in its simplest form.
The Full Moon is where it’s at!
In partnership with Visit Arizona, Outside Online shares award-winning photographer Harun Mehmedinovic’s story about what makes the night skies special to him.