The 9 best places to sleep under the stars

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For outdoor enthusiasts who love nature, it’s hard to imagine a more appealing phrase than “sleeping under the stars”. There is something so instinctive, serene and just law to sleep outside, to look at the sky, to contemplate our place in the universe. These days you don’t have to be a hardened backcountry survivor to find the right place. If you like your outdoor experiences with a little more comfort, here are the best places to sleep under the stars in 2021.

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Joshua Tree National Park

California

A sign that says "Joshua Tree National Park" the night.

As one of the most Off-grid destinations, Joshua Tree National Park has a mythical and mystical reputation among nature lovers. Its unique location in the middle of the Southern California desert guarantees one of the darkest skies in the entire American West. This allows for near perfect stargazing and night photography, so it’s no surprise that the park has been officially designated as a International Dark Sky Park. By day, visitors will find all kinds of sweet and hardcore adventures, from rock climbing and bouldering to mountain biking and hiking in the desert.

Mauna Kea Recreation Area

Big Island of Hawaii

The Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii.

The largest astronomical observatory is located on The Big Island of Hawaii in the Mauna Kea Recreation Area. Suffice to say that it is one of the best places in the United States for stargazing. Camping is available inside the park in one of the seven private cabins. All are located within walking distance of some of the country’s clearest night skies. This is entirely due to a unique tropical inversion cloud layer that keeps the park’s upper atmosphere free of almost all pollutants.

National monument of natural bridges

Utah

Stunning views of the Owachomo Natural Bridge against a starry sky.

For a long list of reasons, Utah is one of America’s most breathtaking natural destinations. The Natural Bridges National Monument is one of the four international dark sky parks in the western world is just one more reason to visit. The small 13-site campground within the boundaries of the monument is a spectacular place to sleep under the stars. Campers will have no trouble finding peace and quiet among acres of juniper trees, with crystal-clear views of the Milky Way after dark. Spaces are limited and available on a first come, first served basis only, so be sure to reserve your spot early.

ComfyDome Glamping site on the hillside

Jefferson, Maine

An illuminated dome on the ComfyDome Glamping Hill-Side site.

With one of the densest populations in the United States, the East Coast is hardly ideal for stargazing. But, rural Maine has all the right ingredients for sleeping under the stars. The aptly named ComfyDome Glamping Hill-Side Site is perched atop a small hill in Jefferson, Maine. Visitors sleep inside a clear geodesic dome with a 360-degree view of the surrounding fields. Firewood, homemade pies and even heat is provided in the winter.

Summit Prairies Lookout

Tiller, Oregon

A view of the Summit Prairie Lookout at night.

Camping in an abandoned The Fire Watchtower is one of those “once in a lifetime” experiences that everyone should have at least once. However, most of the best tours require hours or days of hiking to reach them. The one-of-a-kind Summit Prairie Lookout is a perfect replica inspired by the original US Forest Service watchtowers built at the turn of the 20th century. This is no ordinary camping experience, rather glamping at its best. Private dorms are equipped with hot and cold water, full kitchens, radiators, lamps and more. The wood-fired, spring-fed hot tub outside is the perfect place to relax under the stars. Be warned, however: reservations are extremely limited and they fill up quickly with each season.

Adobe Terluna Off-Grid Dome

Big Bend, Texas

A woman sits on a bench outside the Terluna off-grid Adobe Dome at night.

Thanks to its incredibly remote location in the far south of Texas, most people never get a chance to visit Big Bend National Park. It’s a shame because it’s one of the best places in the country for stargazing. In the nearby town of Terlingua is the uniquely beautiful Terluna off-grid Adobe Dome. This is a simple one-room dwelling perfectly located in the middle of the vast Texas desert, making it ideal for stargazing. Despite its location, guests will find all the comforts of home inside, including a well-equipped kitchen, comfortable dorms, and plenty of solar power to boot.

Amangiri Mesa Suite with Pool

Great Water, Utah

A fireplace and four chairs at Amangiri Mesa Pool Suite in Utah.

Most would consider Utah the crown jewel of the United States’ national park system. Here at the intersection of five national parks, lies Amangiri. This five-star resort is home to Camp Sarika – a superb, world-class retreat literally in the middle of nowhere. This remote location gives this exotic luxury camp privileged access to some of the best stargazing in the western world. After dark, you can sleep under the stars on luxurious bedding, surrounded by high-end amenities. By day, world-class hiking, climbing and outdoor exploration opportunities are minutes away.

Point

Saranac Lake, New York

A room at the Point.

For those for whom only the best will do, there is The Point in New York – a multi-story hotel that dates back to the Rockefeller era and the glamorous 1930s (for the rich). The Boathouse is the property’s signature suite with a massive stone fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and a four-poster bed fit for a king. But, the real one here is the wraparound porch overlooking Lake Saranac. Here, guests will find two hanging outdoor beds with stunning views of the water and the night sky.

Beverly wilshire

Beverly hills, california

The Beverly Wilshire Conservatory at dusk.

Even in the midst of chic Beverly Hills, the Beverly Wilshire stands out. Sky lovers who wish to take their stargazing to the next level can book the one-of-a-kind Veranda Suite at this hotel under the stars. This rooftop ‘bedroom’ is accessed through a hidden eighth-floor entrance behind a wrought-iron and marble staircase. The studio space benefits from all the comforts of home. But, the real star here is the 2,100 square foot patio with a 10 foot high sleeping tent adorned with fur rugs, marble lamps, and even a crystal chandelier above the bed.

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