These Towns Were Just Named the Nation's Top Stargazing Spots

The state of Arizona dominated a new ranking of the best destinations for celestial happenings.

With the summer solstice just behind us and a whole summer ahead, it is officially time to lift your nose to the sky and marvel at the many shows the space has to offer us.

Summer is the ultimate stargazing season, and with a myriad of celestial events coming up, it is definitely in a stargazer’s best interests to know where to go for the best viewing experience. HomeToGo, the vacation rental marketplace, is luckily here to help. The platform just released its 2023 Summer Stargazing Index, which ranked the top 17 stargazing destinations in the US.

To come up with the ranking, HomeToGo analyzed a variety of factors, including average cloud cover, population density to indicate how secluded an area is, and the accessibility of affordable accommodations in the vicinity. Additionally, it even took into account and evaluated many different International Dark Sky Places (IDSP), which are considered to be top spots for stargazing thanks to their low light pollution.

Overall, with six destinations out of 17, Arizona won the top prize as the state with the highest number of top stargazing sites in this year’s index. Texas was the runner-up, flaunting four locations in the ranking.

But if you truly want to look at the night sky in real peace, serenity, and affordable secludedness, you should look no further than Colorado. According to the report, Westcliffe and Silver Cliff is the nation's best bet if you’re looking to get the most out of your stargazing experience. Not only is it home to the first and only International Dark Sky Community (hello, low light pollution!), but it is also the highest altitude IDSP-designated community in the world, which makes it an ideal spot to catch your next meteor shower. Not a soul will be there to bother you, either—the two towns have an estimated combined population of 1,155 people, which is ideal for a unique stargazing session.

Dripping Springs, Arizona took second place in the ranking thanks to its remote location and low levels of light pollution. Combined with the town’s high elevation (2,241’) and its generally clear sky conditions, Dripping Springs is definitely an ideal spot for space enthusiasts.

The Sunshine State made an appearance to close out the top three. The town of Harmony, Florida counts only around 1,000 residents, and even though it isn’t located too far away from major cities, it still flaunts IDA-certified dark skies, which make for excellent stargazing conditions. The town is definitely proud of such certification, too, and for years, it’s been hosting Dark Sky festivals and parties to celebrate its top-notch stargazing reputation.

Take a look at the complete ranking of the top US destinations for stargazing below:

1. Westcliffe and Silver Cliff, Colorado
Dripping Springs, Arizona
Harmony, Florida
Flagstaff, Arizona
Sedona, Arizona
(tied). Beverly Shores, Indiana
6 (tied). 
Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation, Arizona
Fort Davis, Texas
Dripping Springs-Wimberley, Texas
Torrey, Utah
11. Horseshoe Bay, Texas
Lost Creek, Texas
Borrego Springs, California
Village of Oak Creek, Arizona
Homer Glen, Illinois
Fountain Hills, Arizona
Ketchum, Idaho

For more information and to read the complete report, you can visit this website. If you're still feeling indecisive about where to start your stargazing journey, you can consult our own guide to the nation's top stargazing sites.

Ready to go stargazing?

Here are all the best stargazing events that you can get out and see this month or you could stay in and stream the northern lights from home. If you're just getting started, check out our guide to astronomy for beginners or easy stargazing road trips from big US cities.

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Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.