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Camping may not be the most glamorous way to spend a night, but it does put you in place to experience some of the universe’s most astounding grandeur. It’s pretty cheap lodging, too, leaving just the flight and/or car rental to get you far enough away from civilization so that the stars light up the sky. Here are some of the best places to stargaze in the U.S., and a nearby campground where you can stake a claim for the night for under $20.

Courtesy of Kevin Galens.

Courtesy of Kevin Galens.

Mammoth Campground, Yellowstone National Park; near Gardiner, Wyoming

Perched on a sagebrush steppe near the Mammoth Hot Spring Terraces, there’s little civilization nearby to pollute the night sky with light. Plus, at 6,200 feet, you’ve got fewer layers of atmosphere to deal with. Beware elk wandering through the campground at night. $20/night.

Courtesy of John Fowler.

Courtesy of John Fowler.

Goose Island Campground, Arches National Park; near Moab, Utah

The lack of moisture in the air in desert environments makes for a crisper view of the constellations. The beautiful red rock cliffs in the landscape of Arches National Park offer perfect framing. This campground is just outside the park near the Colorado River. $15/night

Courtesy of Shawn.

Courtesy of Shawn.

Wilderness State Park; Carp Lake, Michigan

This campsite on the tip of northern Michigan will yield spectacular views of the night sky, at times revealing glimpses of the Northern Lights. It’s also only six miles from the Headlands International Dark Sky Park, one of only 11 dark sky parks in the world devoted to minimizing light pollution for star observations. $20/night.

Courtesy of BevoStevo.

Courtesy of BevoStevo.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area; near Fredericksburg, Texas

The big Texas sky makes stargazing at Enchanted Rock easy, but its designation as an International Dark Sky Park makes it even better. It is dark enough at this central Texas park to see the Milky Way. The park service also offers stargazing parties if you are interested in learning about the constellations. $14/night for the hike-in campsites.

Courtesy of youngil_pyun.

Courtesy of youngil_pyun.

Sunset Campground, Death Valley National Park; Inyo County, California

One of the darkest night skies in the United States hangs over Death Valley. The country’s third and final International Dark Sky Park, Death Valley offers views of celestial happenings not visible by the naked eye hardly anywhere else in the world. Catch glimpses of stardust, shooting stars and other phenomena. $12/night.

Courtesy of Daveynin.

Courtesy of Daveynin.

Aspenglen Campground; Estes Park, Colorado

This park in the Colorado Rockies has very little light and ample opportunities to turn your eyes toward the skies. Some say stargazing here in winter is best, when the moisture in the air congeals to ice crystals and makes the air more transparent. $15/night.

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Tagged: Tips & advice, Uncategorized

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