The Best RV Campgrounds Near Dark Sky Destinations

Mar 24, 2021 | Travel & Destinations

The Best RV Campgrounds Near Dark Sky Destinations

If you're looking for otherworldly stargazing with no light pollution, check out these dark-sky campgrounds across North America.

By Stephanie Vermillion

Photo: Patrick Taylor

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. 

Wide angle view of starry night ski with campers sitting around fire
Photo: Paul Vincent

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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.   

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • Fully wooded
  • Full hookups
  • Picnic table and fire pit
  • Free shower house use
  • Convenience store
  • Laundry facility
  • Freezer space
  • Motorboat and canoe rentals available on site
  • Pets allowed

PRICES:

Nightly rates start at $36 for two people.

DATES: 

May to October.

Sunset at desert landscape with RVs parked in background
Photo courtesy of Dark Sky RV Campground

Kanab, Utah

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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 three 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.

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • Full hookups
  • Dining table
  • Propane fire pit
  • Shade structure
  • Propane refill delivery
  • Open-air laundry
  • Pets allowed
  • Coffee and tea bar
  • Dog- and dishwashing station
  • Spa-like private bath suites
  • Fiber optic WiFi and excellent cell coverage
  • Adventure tour concierge
  • Kids play area
  • Enclosed dog park

PRICES:

Nightly rates start at $65. The longer you stay, the less expensive the nightly rate is. For example, two to seven nights is $60 per night; eight to 14 nights is $55 per night; 15 nights or longer is $50 per night. The campground also offers an all-inclusive monthly package with complimentary laundry and beverages.

DATES: 

Open year-round. 

Wide angle view of starry night sky at Death Valley National Park
Photo: Patrick Taylor

Death Valley National Park, California

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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. 

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • Full hookups
  • Drinking water
  • Picnic tables
  • Flush toilets 
  • Dump station 
  • One campfire ring or grill per site
  • Campground kiosk
  • Pets allowed

PRICES:

Nightly rates are $36.

DATES: 

Peak season runs from January 1 to April 15 and October 15 to December 31. The campground is first come, first served from April 16 to October 14. 

Aerial view of dusk at an RV park with sand dunes in background
Photo courtesy of Great Sand Dunes Oasis

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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. 

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • 30/50 amp electric hookups 
  • Sand board and sled rentals
  • Hot showers
  • On-site restaurant
  • Firewood
  • Gas
  • Grocery store on site
  • Dump station
  • Pets allowed 

PRICES:

Nightly rates start at $38 for two people.

DATES: 

Open in April or May through October. 

Light house shining light with starry night sky
Photo: VisitNC.com

Outer Banks, North Carolina

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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.    

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • Drinking water
  • Flush toilets
  • Grills
  • Showers
  • Beach access
  • Pets allowed
  • RV parking
  • Cell service
  • No hookups

PRICES:

Rates are $20 per night.

DATES: 

Open from April through November.

Rocky Mountains with shooting star
Photo: © Travel Alberta / Jack Fusco

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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 trans-boundary 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

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • Water and electric hookups
  • Showers
  • Flush toilets
  • Kitchen shelters
  • Food storage
  • Recycle bins
  • Dump station
  • Picnic tables
  • Fire pits
  • Pet friendly

PRICES:

Nightly rates range from $33 to $39. 

DATES: 

Open from April to November.

Joshua tree in front of a starry night sky
Photo courtesy of Lance Gerber (www.nuvueinteractive.com)

Joshua Tree National Park, California

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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.

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • Pit toilets
  • RVs allowed up to 35 feet 
  • No hookups
  • Generator permitted during select hours

PRICES:

Rates are $15 per night.

DATES: 

Open from Labor Day to Memorial Day; closed for the season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. 

Starry night sky at Big Bend National Park
Photo courtesy of Travel Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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. 

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • No hookups
  • Dump station
  • Pets allowed
  • Showers

PRICES:

Rates are $16 per night.

DATES: 

Open year-round. Currently, reservations are required. 

Starry night sky at Valles Caldera Preserve
Photo: New Mexico TRUE

Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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. 

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • No hookups
  • Drinking water provided
  • Vault toilets
  • Fire pit
  • Grills/fire ring
  • Picnic tables

PRICES:

Rates are $10 per night.

DATES: 

Open from mid-May to mid-September.

Planetarium at Mont Megantic National Park
Photo: Sépaq

Mont Mégantic National Park, Quebec, Canada

WHY IT’S GREAT FOR STARGAZING:

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. 

CAMPGROUND AMENITIES:

  • Full and partial hookups available
  • WiFi in community building
  • Playground
  • Convenience store
  • Public beach access

PRICES:

Nightly rates range from $34 to $40.

DATES: 

Open from early May to mid-October.


Plan Your RV Stargazing Trip

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Stephanie Vermillion

Stephanie Vermillion is a Cleveland-based travel and outdoors journalist with a love for the road-trip lifestyle. She writes about adventure travel, outdoor excursions, and astrotourism for publications like National Geographic, Travel & Leisure, and Outside. When she's not writing or editing, you can find Stephanie road tripping around her favorite U.S. region: the Great Lakes.

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