Anyone who has traveled through Nevada knows that it is one of wide open spaces, quiet solitude, and miles upon miles of uninterrupted views. Because the American public owns so much of this wide open landscape, you won’t find “No Trespassing” signs or private developments, and you certainly won’t find a lot of lights. There are very few places left in the country, and in the world for that matter, where there is so little artificial light that you can literally see right through the Milky Way to the next galaxy with the naked eye… but you can right here in Nevada. From Great Basin National Park to Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area to the most remote stretches of Highway 6, Nevada is home to some of the most spectacular night skies in the world.
Places to Enjoy Nevada’s Starry Skies
Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area/Dark Sky Sanctuary
Massacre Rim Wilderness Study Area was certified as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary on March 18, 2019. Located in northern Washoe county, the Sanctuary sits in the middle of one of the darkest regions in the United States.
Tonopah Star Trails and Star ParkOptions abound to see the stars around Tonopah, which was rated the #1 Stargazing Destination in America by USA Today. In town you can visit the Clair Blackburn Memorial Stargazing Park with its cement pads designed for telescopes. Or download the Tonopah Star Trails Map at www.tonopahnevada.com so you can explore the extensive paved and unpaved options to see central Nevada’s night skies.
Ely’s Great Basin Star Train
Hop on a steam-powered locomotive in Ely for an educational and inspiring program featuring the National Park Service’s “Dark Rangers” and eastern Nevada’s breathtaking Dark Skies. Great Basin Star Train runs Spring/Summer. For details and schedule, visit the Nevada Northern Railway site at NNRY.com.
Visit America’s Darkest Town, as named by FiveThirtyEight in 2017. Enjoy a Picon Punch Cocktail at local watering hole Bruno’s Country Club & Motel. If the Black Rock Playa is dry, you can walk onto one of the largest, flattest surfaces in the world to get an expansive view of northern Nevada’s starry skies. Don’t forget to stop by the Empire Store on the way.
Desert Overlook Trail
See the stars over a sweeping view of southern Nevada’s Sheep Range Proposed Wilderness from this trail in the Spring Mountains. This half-mile, paved trail is accessible and has a parking area, making it an ideal star-watching spot for all Nevadans.
Great Basin National Park
“Half the park is after dark!” As a designated Dark Sky Park, Great Basin’s Night Sky Program highlights include guided full moon hikes, seasonal ranger-led astronomy talks, and telescope viewings at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center. The Park also hosts an annual astronomy festival every autumn.
Astronomy Festival – September 17 – 19, 2020. (Check for current updates on the event times and safety precautions)
Great Basin National Park will be hosting its annual Astronomy Festival. Enjoy three days and nights of astronomy-themed events, including the famous ranger talent show and stargazing through over 20 different telescopes! September 17th – 19th, 2020. Check times with Lehman Visitor Center.
** Feature image www.modernartphotograph.com Portland Photographer Robert Knapp, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons