Not all US National Parks are good for star parties or Ranger led programs. Some National Parks have astronomy programs, with some that should. Here are a few that are underrated and provide amazing opportunities! These sites are not an exhaustive list but are rather some great opportunities at already great locations! And we will tell you why based on our firsthand experiences.
Crater Lake NPS
With amazing blue waters, miles of road, and a lodge, Crater Lake is a wonderful place to visit. Due to its relatively remote location, the skies do get dark. As the lodge and town of Klamath Falls are on the southern part of the lodge, that area does get some light pollution. However, the rest of the park gets extremely dark skies. The road leading up to the park from the north and some road stops would make some great ranger led astronomy tours of the sky. Plus, with planets like Jupiter and Saturn visible in the summer sky, which is peak tourist season, a small telescope would be amazing! Talk about what can be seen and show the planets would make for an unbelievable experience!
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument
Located near Fossil Oregon, this park has some of the darkest skies in the entire Pacific Northwest! It is so dark that the Oregon Star Party is held only an a few miles away, providing observers with the same dark skies! The 3 locations provide a plethora of opportunities to stargaze from the parking lots and not disturb the fossil. The Clarno Unit or Paleontology Museum parking lots provide amazing opportunities to stargaze at an extraordinary dark sky without light pollution!
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