The 7 Best SoCal Desert Locations for Night Sky Viewing | KCET
The 7 Best SoCal Desert Locations for Night Sky Viewing
A road trip away from a city's bright lights on a clear night will be a treat for anyone who looks up to the skies. Here in Southern California, we're especially lucky to live in a place with some of the best night sky viewing in the continental United States. You just have to venture at least 100 miles away from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Here are 7 spots in our local deserts that offer brilliant views:
1. Joshua Tree National Park is a classic stargazing destination and one with plenty of public programs during the winter and spring seasons. Most of the events take place at the Cottonwood Campground amphitheater, which is known as one of the darkest places in the park — only the glow from Palm Springs and a nearby truck stop affect the view. A complete listing of events and locations can be found here.
2. Farther south and completely enclosed by Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is Borrego Springs, which in 2009 became the world's second International Dark Sky Community. The park was also named by USA Today as one of the top 10 places in the country to gaze at stars. Local night-sky buffs agree.
3. Tucked between Death Valley National Park and the Nevada border is the eccentric town of Tecopa, home to century-old mud hills, the Yaga Labrynith and popular hot springs. For years the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort has hosted star parties on new moon weekends, complete with a high-powered telescope pointed up at the galaxies.
4. Located in the proposed Mojave Trails National Monument off Route 66 is Amboy Crater, a 250-foot high volcanic cinder cone with 24 square miles of lava flow beyond it. This great night-sky spot was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1973.
5. The southern half of Mojave National Preserve offers what many believe is the single best spot to view stars. Far enough away from both the Los Angeles and Las Vegas metropolitan areas (and smaller cities), the Hole-in-the-Wall and Black Canyon campgrounds are popular for amateur and professional astronomers who want to spend the weekend camping and staring upwards. Also noted are the night skies seen from the Kelso Dunes.
6. Star parties are occasionally thrown by park rangers at Death Valley National Park, but when none are happening they recommend Borax Works near the busy Furnace Creek area. Farther north within the park one should try Scotty's Castle and The Racetrack.
7. While the Sky's The Limit Observatory and Nature Center is a work in progress, keep this spot in mind for when it opens. Found just outside the northern end of Joshua Tree National Park off Utah Trail in Twentynine Palms, a non-profit group is in the midst of planning and building an observatory. This will likely become a heavily visited night sky viewing spot once completed.
Note: The deserts in California are expansive. Do not just rely on GPS directions or online mapping tools, as they have led travelers astray, sometimes into life-threatening situations. Please plan ahead and consult park rangers and expert guide books.
This post expands upon an earlier post on KCET's SoCal Focus blog.
A former aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar today became the fourth person to agree to plead guilty to a felony charge stemming from the City Hall "pay-to-play" federal corruption probe.
153 workers have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Smithfield Foods-owned meatpacking plant, according to L.A. County Department of Public Health. That's 13 more cases than were first reported by LAist just five days ago.
A new COVID-19 testing site opened at Dodger Stadium today, which city officials say will accommodate three times more people than any other testing site in Los Angeles County.
In an announcement that will delight shaggy-haired residents statewide, Gov. Gavin Newsom today cleared the way for barbershops and hair salons to open in some counties.
- 1 of 290
- next ›
Take a rare behind-the-scenes look inside the busiest fire station in the country, where firefighters act as both primary care providers and emergency responders for the nearly 5,000 people living on Skid Row.
In 2019, California, one of the nation’s most secretive states when it comes to police files, put SB1421 into effect. But a year into the new transparency law, journalists and the public are realizing that the law may not be as transparent as expected.
State and local regulators are overwhelmed and outgunned when it comes to closing down California’s poisonous pot pipeline.
Parents are willing to spend thousands to get the competitive edge in the college admissions process, but at what cost? Socal Connected takes a revealing look at the high stakes world of the for-profit education consultant business.
Socal Connected looks at what happened to LA Jets’ Obea Moore and the current state of youth track and field today.
- 1 of 54
- next ›