Backyard Observatory

The Star Train Will Take You Into the Wilderness to Stargaze Under Dark Skies

The Star Train is taking reservations for 2021 now.

Star train 2021
Courtesy Nevada Northern Railway/Kevin Grant

You should seriously be considering vacations centered around looking up at the night sky. It's worth a trek to see brilliant views of stars you'll never see in the city. That's probably doubly true as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to position us for social distancing over the long term. 

A train ride certainly isn't going to provide the necessary distancing you're looking for, but you can always plan ahead. The Nevada Northern Railway has announced its Star Train dates for 2021. This ride out into Nevada's dark skies will provide the opportunity stargaze as you've never stargazed before. (And, look, it'll be pleasurable even if you've experienced dark skies before.)

The train features the dark rangers of Great Basin National Park to help guide riders through the night sky, spotting planets, stars, and constellations. Great Basin is a gold tier International Dark Sky Park. The dark sky rangers of the park are not, in fact, a villain that Captain America must defeat, but park rangers with astronomical expertise. 

The train pulls out of Ely, Nevada, about 244 miles north of Las Vegas. Once it's well away from the lights of the city, passengers disembark with the rangers and look up at the heavens. That'll include the use of a telescope that is brought along for your stargazing pleasure. 

The downside here is that you need to decide if you want to go in a hurry, which isn't easy when it's not clear what the future holds in the face of the pandemic. However, under normal circumstances, the Star Train ($41 per adult) sells out up to a year in advance. That demand may be even greater as the vacation-starved masses look to 2021 for a dream journey after a long time spent social distancing. For now, maybe you'll just have to take to the open road on your own to find some stars. 

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Dustin Nelson is a Senior Staff Writer at Thrillist. Follow him @dlukenelson.