Ditch Your Day Hike and Check Out Montana's Stargazing Trail Instead

The state's online map will help you plot a trip around celestial events.

For a second, forget about sweaty hikes in the daylight—Montana has a way cooler gem to offer you, and it involves celestial events.

What not many people know is that the gorgeous state, in addition to marvelous landscapes and breathtaking hiking trails, flaunts a proper and authentic stargazing trail that it launched just last year. It's exactly what it sounds like—the initiative, dubbed Trail to the Stars, welcomes sky watchers to visit the state's 46 best stargazing points and dark sites to marvel at stars, galaxies, and all the celestial phenomena the night sky has to offer.

Montana's incredible night skies have the state's minimal light pollution to thank, which makes it an ideal location to stargaze in peace. As a result, the Trail to the Stars both celebrates Montana's commitment to preserve its night skies and helps promote astronomy tourism to the state. Rather than a simple trail you can hike through, you should zoom out, and picture it as a state-wide trail, featuring many different stops—from remote RV parks to secluded recreation areas and Dark Sky Sanctuaries—across central and eastern landscapes where all stargazing enthusiasts can enjoy the beauty of the sky above.

"Montana's Trail to the Stars is a gateway to the wonders of the universe," Scott Osterman, director of the Montana Department of Commerce, said in a statement. "Our dark skies and the communities in between offer an unparalleled opportunity to connect with the cosmos, inspire awe, and foster a sense of wonder. We invite all astronomy enthusiasts, from novice stargazers to seasoned astronomers, to embark on this extraordinary journey and witness the beauty of Montana's star-filled skies."

And it's not like it's just a collection of gorgeous viewpoints—there is much more. With the help of renowned astronomers and astrophotographers, the trail comes up with a series of educational programs and stargazing events at select locations, allowing space fans to learn about the night sky while they're looking at it. You should, for example, save the date on July 20, when the "Dinosaurs & Dark Skies" event will take place at the Carter County Museum, where participants will learn about constellations, see meteor showers in real life, and even snap photos of galaxies far away.

If this sounds like a dream travel opportunity, make sure to download and check out the trail's map (which you can find right here) to better plan your trip. For more information, you can also visit the trail's website.

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