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Look to the Stars! National Parks Stargazing Festivals (2023)

Stargazing season is here! Enjoy the night skies at their brightest at National Parks stargazing festivals…

With warmer weather comes clearer skies and the perfect opportunities to see the night sky in all its awesome glory. 

National parks are helping visitors make the most of this time by hosting stargazing festivals. The festivals include various nightime events in addition to stargazing. 

These events are right around the corner, so bust out your stargazing kit and get going!

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Dark Sky National Parks

National parks are becoming night sky havens since they have less exposure to light pollution. Dozens of national parks are even designated Dark Sky Parks because of their “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights…”

Some national parks with the official “Dark Sky Park” classification are:

  • Arches National Park, Utah
  • Big Bend National Park, Texas
  • Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida
  • Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  • Canyonlands National Park, Utah
  • Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
  • Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico
  • Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah
  • Death Valley National Park, California
  • Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
  • Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
  • Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
  • Zion National Park, Utah

You’ll notice Utah is a big hitter when it comes to stargazing. So many incredible places to not only see during the day but also to be mesmerized by at night!

That's why it's no surprise that our Southern Utah RV Adventure Guide is one of our most popular guides. We also have an article on the 5 Best Dark Sky Locations for Stargazing in U.S.

National Parks Stargazing Festivals (2023)

Unfortunately, we’re a little late posting this article as the first two events have just passed. But these annual events are held at similar times annually so you can start planning those for next year. 

In the meantime, there are still a few amazing stargazing festivals at national parks in the near future. And, national parks often host many stargazing activities and events throughout the year, so check for those whenever you plan to visit.

Alrighty, let’s take a look at the national parks stargazing festivals 2023…

Grand Canyon Star Party, June 10-17 (check in a few months for 2024 dates)

Grand Canyon at night National Parks Stargazing Festivals
Grand Canyon at night

Grand Canyon National Park is known for its breathtakingly beautiful rugged terrain. But did you know it also hosts some of the most beautiful night skies around? 

You can take in those skies this month at their annual Star Party. The event is free, but you must still pay to enter the park. The park fee is good for the North and South rims for seven days. 

The event starts at sunset, although the best viewing time is after 9 pm. Most telescopes will be taken down at 11 pm, although some folks still share theirs after that when the skies are crisp and clear.  

Bryce Canyon Astronomy Festival, June 14-17 (check soon for 2024 dates)

Bryce Canyon National Park at night National Parks Stargazing Festivals
Bryce Canyon National Park at night

Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southern Utah. This park has such excellent night sky viewing that it earned its dark-sky designation in 2019!

Come view the reddish-colored “hoodoos” during the day, and then return for its spectacular nighttime views! 

Their annual stargazing event includes lectures and, star stories presentations, guided stargazing sessions. They also have a performance by an Arizona string quartet called Dry Sky Quartet and other family-friendly activities. 

Annual Badlands Astronomy Festival, July 14-16

National Parks Stargazing Festivals Stars in the Badlands
Stars in the Badlands

South Dakota is home to Badlands National Park, which boasts exciting fossil beds and unique geologic formations. You can see things like sod tables and clastic dikes during the day, then stay to take advantage of their dark night skies. 

Their annual Astronomy Festival partners with the NASA South Dakota Grant Consortium. Their festival typically includes guest speakers, telescopes, sky viewing, and a guided walk through a scaled solar system model!

Mike and Jennifer's Summer T-Shirts for your next adventure

Look to the Stars! National Parks Stargazing Festivals (2023) 1
Your Adventure Awaits! New colors and designs are waiting for you.

Shenandoah Night Sky Festival, August 11-13

Shenandoah National Park is a gorgeous gem in the Blue Ridge Mountains in north-central Virginia. In fact, this almost 200,000-acre park is so breathtaking that we have done several posts about it! 

The other great thing about this park is its location. It is only a 75-mile drive from Washington, D.C. So if you will be checking out our nation’s capitol, it's an easy trip to make.

You can view its cascading waterfalls, wildflower fields, and quiet woods daily, then stay for its spectacular nighttime views.  

Their annual stargazing event hosts public stargazing sessions. Ranger talks and other lectures and presentations, and family-friendly activities. 

The guest presentations will include a span of topics, including space travel, space weather, and our future in space. 

The event is free with park admission

Great Basin Astronomy Festival, September 14-16

Milky Way in the Great Basin National Parks Stargazing Festivals
Milky Way in the Great Basin

The Great Basin National Park might be for you if you prefer to avoid crowds. It is one of the least crowded national parks! 

The 77,000-acre park in eastern Nevada also has a research-grade observatory! 

This fall, you can attend their stargazing event, which usually includes constellation talks, guest speakers, and observatory tours. They also have a photography workshop for all you photo bugs out there!

Joshua Tree Night Sky Festival, October 13-14

Look to the Stars! National Parks Stargazing Festivals (2023) 2
Sunsets can be pretty incredible, too, in Joshua Tree…

Joshua Tree National Park is designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). That means it is the perfect spot to stargaze all year!

Every year, the park and non-profit organizations Joshua Tree Educational Experience (JTREE) and Sky’s the Limit  Observatory and Nature Center partner to bring this incredible stargazing event. 

The Night Sky Festival is a ticketed event and has a limited capacity. It is usually located just outside the park limits at the Sky’s The Limit Nature Observatory and Nature Center. Tickets go on sale in early summer. 

Stargazing Kit

With so many stars in the sky and a universe so vast, stargazing helps put life (and all of our problems) into perspective. It’s one of the biggest perks of camping when you have an open sky filled with stars above you.

Of course, all you need to stargaze is a clear sky and a craned neck. But to really soak in the heavens and enjoy your time outside at night, it helps to be comfortable. It’s also nice to know what you’re looking at and to see things even better.

So, we’ve compiled a list of items that take stargazing for campers to the next level.


Um, Mike, I want to look at stars, not do yoga. I hear ya! But this yoga mat is better than any picnic blanket you’ll find. With its thick padding, you can lie down anywhere and comfortably gaze up at the stars.

It’s light and easy to carry with its strap. And it’s not a problem if it gets wet. Just be sure to let it air dry before you store it. 


This wearable blanket has a big front pocket and comes with a small pillow. And I do mean comes with a small pillow, not folds up into a pillow like some other options. That way, you can use the pillow and blanket at the same time.

Both the blanket and pillow zip up into a little bag. It’s lightweight, easy to carry, and, most importantly, very cozy!


Our 7 Day RV Adventure Guide to Utah

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Mike and Jennifer's Southern Utah RV Adventure Guide

Look to the Stars! National Parks Stargazing Festivals (2023) 3

Utah, Utah, Utah.  What more is there to be said? In very few places across the United States is there such a tremendous area with breathtaking vistas and diversity of terrain.

The sheer size of the National Parks, the canyons, the desert. Combined with the amount of history written in the red rocks that rise like towers jutting out of the ground and the delicate hoodoos washed away by erosion.

It is a place that, if you’ve never been, you need to go, at least once in your life.

This ebook is a seven day guided exploration of the State and National Parks in Southern Utah. We provide a suggested route and itinerary, links to multiple campgrounds and boondocking spots, and the best spots to see along the way. Don’t plan your trip to Southern Utah without it!

You can hit everything in seven days, do a whirlwind weekend tour, or you can take your time and explore the area over a few weeks.

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You can see ALL our eBooks here, or use the following Quick Links to go straight to what you need!

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And MANY of these are BUNDLED together: 

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Ultimate 7-Day RV Adventure Guide Bundle
Collection 1- our first 10 ebooks (does NOT contain Great Lakes Shoreline or Natchez Trace)

We also have a nice collection of ebooks that will help you navigate the RV Lifestyle. 

Like these:

RV Buying Secrets

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The Ultimate Guide to Cheap or FREE RV Camping Sites

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And ONE PRINT book 🙂 and yes, before you ask, we have plans for MANY more print books.

The Complete Guide to Boondocking – PRINT VERSION
This is the same as the ebook titled The Beginner's Guide to Boondocking but in print.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2023-06-17

Mike Wendland is an Emmy award-winning journalist, traveler, and producer of RV Podcast, the RV Lifestyle travel blog, and the RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube. Mike, traveling with his wife Jennifer and their Norwegian Elkhound, Bo, has vast experience and a great passion for exploring North America, previously working as a long-time NBC-TV News Channel Technology Correspondent and now sharing his love for the RV lifestyle with millions. Mike is not only an adept RV life enthusiast but also a skillful storyteller, bringing to his channels stories from the road that perfectly capture the magic and hardships of this lifestyle.

2 Responses to “Look to the Stars! National Parks Stargazing Festivals (2023)”

June 17, 2023at10:04 am, Pam Tucker said:

I loved this post. We bought a Winnebago Solis 59PX just to travel to dark skies for our astronomy hobby. We plan to chase the 2 eclipses coming up(annular in oct23 and total in apr24). You once did an interview with John & Brenda Nejedlo of GeoAstroRV. I cannot find current info on them. Do you know if they are still active speakers? We are doing something similar on the local level and would love to see their presentations and maybe meet them someday. Thank you.


June 17, 2023at8:31 pm, Team RV Lifestyle said:

Mike has lost touch with the contacts – But it sounds like you have an amazing year ahead chasing the the two eclipses! Team RV Lifestyle


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