Night Sky Galaxy

Trip Planning

Night Sky Events Across the Country

Jeff Crider shares some of the best places to observe the night sky across the country.

One of the great joys of RVing is being able to sleep under the stars in a beautiful campground or RV resort, especially in one of the nation’s official “dark sky” locations, as identified by the International Dark Sky Association.

The tiny desert community of Borrego Springs in the remote California desert, near Anza Borrego Desert State Park, is one such location. RV resorts in the area have developed special dark sky activities and events for RVers looking for an unforgettable night sky.

The Springs at Borrego RV Resort & Golf Course in Borrego Springs offers occasional “Star Talks” with astronomer and night sky photographer, Dennis Mammana. Dennis’s “Star Talks” illustrates the night sky with slides of distant planets, stars, and constellations. The “Star Talks” are followed by a visit to an area near the golf course where guests can peer through telescopes and examine the planets and constellations with Mammana’s assistance. Mammana’s next “Star Talks” are slated for Sunday, Feb. 19, and March 5.

An even bigger event called the Nightfall Star Party will place during the second weekend of November at Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort, when more than 200 amateur astronomers and night sky enthusiasts will descend on the resort for two days of astronomy and night photography talks, tours, and activities.

“This event grows in popularity each year,” said Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort Manager, Gary Preslar. He also added that the resort makes special arrangements, even turning off or changing the lighting and restricting vehicular traffic around the resort so as not to interfere with night photography and videos, which typically involves long exposures.

"Details about the event, which is organized by the Riverside Astronomical Society, will be posted on their website as soon as the agenda is finalized," said Alex McConahay, an event organizer. According to Preslar, however, the resort was already nearly sold out by late January for the November event.

“It’s a really unique event,” Preslar said. “Some of the telescopes people bring in are as big as cars.”

Other astronomy events taking place this year include the Death Valley Dark Sky Festival, Feb. 10-12, in Death Valley National Park, and the Night Sky Festival, Oct. 13-14, at Joshua Tree National Park in the Southern California desert near TwentyNine Palms.

RV-friendly campgrounds are located inside Death Valley. Campgrounds near Joshua Tree National Park include:

TwentyNine Palms RV Resort & Cottages in Twentynine Palms.

Palm Springs / Joshua Tree KOA in Desert Hot Springs.

This year’s Grand Canyon Star Party is scheduled for June 10-17 on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

Flagstaff, Arizona is also the home of Lowell Observatory, a national historic landmark that is one of the oldest observatories in the United States. Research conducted at this observatory had led to several important discoveries, including the realization that the universe is expanding, the discovery of the planet Pluto in 1930, the co-discovery of the rings of Uranus in 1977, the discovery of periodic variations in the brightness of Halley’s Comet, and the first detection of water in the atmosphere of an extrasolar planet. The observatory has nighttime sessions scheduled throughout the summer where visitors can meet an astronomer, ask questions, and see real-time video images of planets, stars, galaxies, and other celestial objects. Daytime tours are also available as well as opportunities to view the sun with special equipment.

Flagstaff area campgrounds include:

Flagstaff KOA

J & H RV Park

Village Camp Flagstaff

Several websites offer information on night sky festivals and other astronomy events across the country. Campgrounds are often located near festival locations as well as popular night sky viewing areas, including the following: 

Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. One of the most popular stargazing destinations in the eastern U.S., this park has an observation field and specially designated night sky viewing area.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Kinzua East KOA in Bradford. 

Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho: Located on the Snake River Plain of central Idaho, this park was designated an International Dark Sky Park in 2017. Other locations for dark sky viewing include the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. Nearby campgrounds include Craters of the Moon / Arco KOA in Arco. 

Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City, Michigan: This park is located on the Straits of Mackinac, connecting Lake Michigan with Lake Huron. The Northern lights can be seen from this location around the time of the spring and fall equinoxes. Nearby campgrounds include the Mackinaw City / Mackinac Island KOA in Mackinaw City.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Parkoffers some of the darkest skies in Florida.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Okeechobee KOA Resort in Okeechobee.

Southeast Utah: This remote region of the country, which includes Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Natural Bridges National Monument, features excellent areas for viewing the constellations.

Nearby campgrounds include:

Beaver KOA in Beaver

Moab KOA

Portal RV Resortalso in Moab.

Regardless of which park you decide to visit, you are in for some amazing night sky views unlike anywhere else.

Night Sky Events
Photo by Bob Stephens
Night Sky Events
Photo by Visit 29 Palms
Night Sky Events
Photo by Visit 29 Palms
Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona
Borrego Springs
Jeff Crider


Jeff Crider, President and CEO of Crider Public Relations, has been involved in covering the campground industry for over 25 years. Jeff has worked as a freelance writer for publications such as RV Business, Motor Home Magazine, Trailer Life, Highways and other Affinity Group Inc. publications since 1995. He has also successfully pitched many of the nation's top tier media outlets, including CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Financial Times, Reuters, The Associated Press and National Public Radio. In addition to writing, Jeff is also a talented photographer and humanitarian.