Updated January 28, 2011Dark-Sky Destinations in Nevada
Nevada is known best for its bright lights and gambling but it does offer some destinations with night skies that attract stargazers and amateur astronomers.
Tonopah Star Trails
This Nevada destination, halfway between Reno and Las Vegas, and away from the bright lights of both, has its own starry website and star trails map; and boasts that it has some of the darkest skies in the world. Tonopah Star Trails invites you to travel its paved and unpaved trails to look up and see 7,000 stars. Traveling the star trails of Tonopah seems to be a solitary journey, as evidenced by this from the website, “Travel the star trails around Tonopah after the moon sets. Let your eyes adjust for 20 minutes. Look up and see what we have to offer.”
The town of Tonopah has its roots in silver, mining that is, beginning around 1900. You can learn about that history at the 100-acre Tonopah Mining Park. Today, it’s a small town of less than 3,000 with enough lodging for stargazers and a few places to find something to eat or stock up on supplies.
If you enjoy roughing it, check out Peavine Canyon, Alta Toquima Wilderness Area or Table Mountain Wilderness Area for camping.
Location: Tonopah is located between Las Vegas and Reno at the intersection of U.S. Highways 95 and 6. Map.
Visit the Tonopah Star Trails website.
Learn about recreation around Tonopah.
Great Basin National Park
If you’re looking for year round dark-sky viewing in Nevada, then Great Basin National Park is a great choice. It’s really remote so be sure you plan ahead and arrive with everything you need for your stay. Also, if you plan to stay overnight, check on camping before you go. Campgrounds are available, though only one, Lower Lehman Creek is the only one open year round. You can’t reserve a campsite in advance, so be sure to find a site early.
The Great Basin website offers this view of the dark skies over the park, “Low humidity and light pollution combine with high elevation to create a unique window to the universe.” In addition to just enjoying the night sky on your own, Special Stargazing Programs are scheduled during the summer.
Location: Great Basin National Park is located about five miles west of Baker, in east-central Nevada. Maps and directions.
Las Vegas Astronomical Society Events
The Las Vegas Astronomical Society hosts many events, including star parties at Red Rock, Cathedral Gorge and Furnace Creek in Death Valley. Visitors are welcome to many of the events, with prior contact through a member of the group.
Learn about the Greatest Stars of Las Vegas and other star parties hosted by the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.
Find out more about Cathedral Gorge State Park, a favorite for star parties, so it should be superb stargazing.
More Dark Skies Information
For those seeking that perfect place to enjoy pure transparent dark skies of the Southwest we have gathered information by stateStar Party 101 for important information to know before attending your first star party.