Few camping experiences are more exhilarating than sleeping under the stars. With North America’s array of RV campgrounds near—and even within—dark-sky-certified destinations, it’s easy to partake in the fun. Forget city lights. In these dark-sky campgrounds, the glowing Milky Way and twinkling cosmos are the unrivaled stars of the show.
From the Outer Banks in North Carolina to Alberta, Canada, here are 10 of the best RV campgrounds for stargazing.
1. Canoe Country Outfitters Campground, Ely, Minnesota
Minnesota’s 1 million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness gained dark-sky certification from the International Dark Sky Association in August 2020. It’s now the largest dark-sky sanctuary in the world, which means Boundary Waters’ stargazing is truly out of this world. And, with more than 1,000 lakes winding through remote stretches of the Superior National Forest, the daytime adventures are hard to beat, too.
The Canoe Country Outfitters Campground, located near the eastern Boundary Waters gateway, is packed with RV amenities, making it the perfect home base for those cosmos-and-canoe adventures.
2. Dark Sky Campground, Kanab, Utah
The Dark Sky RV Campground was built for RVers, by RVers, with a focus on pristine wilderness. Here, guests can gaze across Southern Utah’s otherworldly desert vistas like the Red Cliffs and Kaibab Plateau. This campground, just 3 miles from the center of Kanab, Utah, boasts minimal light pollution and some of Southern Utah’s darkest skies, with the Milky Way glowing from spring through fall.
What It’s Like to Own Dark Sky RV Campground: A Conversation With Britt Roth
3. Furnace Creek Campground, Death Valley, California
Death Valley, one of the lowest and hottest places in North America, has another superlative up its sleeve: stargazing. This IDA-certified dark-sky park promises peak stargazing conditions: dry, remote desert and virtually no light pollution overhead.
The Furnace Creek Campground, the area’s only National Park Service campground with hookup sites, sits in the heart of it all. Expect a sea of stars and that twinkling Milky Way, with distant peaks as a surreal cherry on top. Peak season runs from January to mid-April and mid-October to December. The campground is first come, first served from mid-April to mid-October.
4. Great Sand Dunes Oasis, Mosca, Colorado
Imagine towering dunes, a snow-capped-mountain backdrop, and a splash of sparkling stars overhead. This tranquil scene is more than a stargazer’s fantasy; it’s real life at Great Sand Dunes National Park, where “half the park is after dark.” This IDA-certified dark-sky park blends Earth and sky for a truly humbling experience. And, at the convenient Great Sand Dunes Oasis campground, the gateway to the park, travelers can enjoy the best seat in the house.
5. Cape Point Campground, Buxton, North Carolina
Secluded miles away from development, the Outer Banks Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a picture-perfect spot for stargazing. This stretch of shoreline is one of the darkest places along the East Coast.
The area is working toward its dark-sky certification, which means now is the perfect time to experience this still-under-the-radar astro-oasis. And the centrally located Cape Point Campground, just a stone’s throw from the striking Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, is the best place to enjoy the starry scenery.
6. Townsite Campground, Waterton, Alberta, Canada
One glimpse of the Milky Way shimmering above the Rockies makes it easy to see why Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta is among Canada’s top stargazing spots. Waterton, which shares a boundary with Montana’s Glacier National Park, is part of the IDA’s first transboundary dark-sky park.
Jagged peaks and reflective lakes impress any time of day, but add a splash of stars and the streak of the Milky Way, and it’s truly hard to beat camping near Waterton—especially at the park’s closest and most RV-friendly campsite, the Townsite Campground.
7. Belle Campground, Twentynine Palms, California
Home to some of Southern California’s darkest skies, Joshua Tree National Park is a dream getaway for astrotourists. The cosmos brilliantly shimmers above this IDA-certified dark-sky park, where stargazers travel far and wide to view everything from meteor showers to the planets—which you can see if the timing’s right.
Enjoy the splendor of a starry night among Joshua trees at the rustic Belle Campground. While the digs are modest—as they are across all Joshua Tree park campsites—the unobstructed views are well worth the stay.
8. Rio Grande Village RV Park, Big Bend National Park, Texas
With the least light pollution of any national park in the lower 48, it’s easy to see why Milky Way chasers rave about Big Bend National Park. This Southwest Texas gem is as remote as it gets, with 800,000 acres of unspoiled river canyons and mountain-ringed desert. To sleep under the stars in this IDA-certified park, head to Rio Grande Village RV Park, where epic desert scenery awaits.
9. Jemez Falls Campground, Jemez Springs, New Mexico
Meadows and streams decorate Valles Caldera’s nearly 90,000-acre preserve, which is nestled in the Jemez Mountains of Northern New Mexico. This stargazing haven is one of the latest parks to earn IDA dark-sky certification, which means it now tops astrotourist bucket lists—and for good reason. The preserve’s best viewpoints are open 24 hours per day, with pull-off overlooks to take in the starry skies all night.
While no campsites currently exist within Valles Caldera National Preserve, the nearby Jemez Falls Campground offers overnight RV spots. It’s a 12-minute drive from the preserve entrance.
10. Baie des Sables, Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada
Mont Mégantic National Park is renowned for its pitch-black skies and pristine stargazing. This Canadian national park is located in the IDA’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. Low light pollution, mountain landscapes, and meandering forests are the perfect recipe for all-day adventures—especially once nighttime rolls around. Stay at the Baie-des-Sables campsite, a campground with comfortable amenities and plenty of attractions, located just 30 minutes from the park’s entrance.