Put simply, a “Dark Sky Community” is a place where you can see a lot of stars without having to travel into the deep wilderness. The residents and businesses in the cities and towns that are official Dark Sky Communities do their part to prevent too much artificial light at night. This means turning off lights in buildings when no one is using them and not using neon signs. Extra light that isn’t controlled is called light pollution, and besides making it harder to see the stars, it also negatively affects wildlife and can even alter people’s biological clocks, which contributes to health issues.
Stargazing in a Dark Sky Community is not only relaxing but pretty good for you, too, so here’s a list of some great places to look into visiting.
Beverly Shores, Indiana
As its name implies, Beverly Shores is a beach community right on the edge of Lake Michigan. It’s about an hour’s drive from Chicago and close to the trails of Indiana Dunes National Park.
Ketchum is a great vacation destination located in the middle of Idaho’s Rocky Mountains. Enjoy a bustling area of ski resorts, golf courses, mountain hikes, and art galleries.
This small Colorado town has a population under 1,000. Get away from city life and enjoy hiking trails with views of the San Juan Mountains in Ridgway State Park or a soak in one of the nearby natural hot springs.
Big Park / Oak Creek, Arizona
Big Park, also known as the Village of Oak Creek, is an incredible place to watch the stars come out above impressive rock formations like Cathedral Rock. Enjoy desert wilderness while staying in one of the area’s upscale golf resorts.
Borrego Springs, California
Borrego Springs lies in an unincorporated part of San Diego County. You’ll get to see the stars and enjoy small-town life without traffic lights. Venture into the desert landscape for a horseback ride, mountain biking, or a jeep tour.
Fredericksburg in central Texas draws visitors for night sky viewing, inns, and wineries. The city is also home to some great museums where you can learn more about World War II, pioneer life, and the German cultural heritage that gives the town its name.
Dripping Springs, Texas
A short drive from Austin, Dripping Springs is home to the crystal blue waters and 50-foot waterfall of Hamilton Pool Preserve. After a refreshing swim, relax at one of the many distilleries, wineries, or breweries in the area.
Torrey is the gateway to Capitol Reef National Park, where you can see striking red cliffs, green riverbanks, and the huge white rock formation that’s said to look like the U.S. Capitol building. With fewer than 300 people in the town, no one will be crowding your view of the stars.
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