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.
Ava Duvernay, Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia Amplify Stories of Defiant Women of Color Transforming Politics
Directed by Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia, “And She Could Be Next” tracks the campaigns of six women of color who sought office as well as the efforts of all the seasoned organizers and ordinary folks who made those campaigns possible.
'You Started The Corona!' Asian American Californians Have Reported Over 800 Hate Incidents During Pandemic
Another museum has closed due to COVID-19, but this time, it’s continuing online.
For nearly 30 years, Tom Dwyer worked with North East Trees, the non-profit organization responsible for planting some of the first trees and building some of the first parks along the Los Angeles River.
An investigation reveals how the state and many cities have let developers get away for decades with not paying their fair share when they replace affordable lodging with luxury hotels up and down California’s coast.
A Humboldt town is polarized over allegations of racism and police incompetence surrounding the death of college student Josiah Lawson.
As California deals with the fallout of a global waste crisis, plastic manufacturers continue to spread misleading information about recycling, while spending big on lobbying efforts to keep their products on the shelves.
For decades Los Angeles has lived in the shadows of New York and Chicago when it comes to the jazz, but that's now changing. LA's jazz scene is on the upswing. Meet the people, places and sounds that are putting LA jazz back on the map.
Chopped down trees, unspent money, building homes thirty feet from the freeway: Is the city of Los Angeles falling down on the job when it comes to certain environmental policies? Socal Connected investigates.