Win a Free Trip to See a Meteor Shower in the Darkest Place on Earth

Nevada wants to set you up with a free camping trip under the Perseids.

The stars as seen from Massacre Rim, Nevada. | Photo courtesy of Kurt Kuznicki, Friends of Nevada Wilderness
The stars as seen from Massacre Rim, Nevada. | Photo courtesy of Kurt Kuznicki, Friends of Nevada Wilderness

Imagine you’re out camping in the pitch black night, the stars a blanket of diamonds in the sky above you. Everything is still. Then suddenly the diamonds start falling out of formation. They’re kinetic, alive, with streaks of light in their wake.

This could be your experience this August 11 and 12, when the annual Perseid meteor shower hits its glorious peak. A summertime classic, it's the most spectacular shower of the year, a bit of excitement during the lazy days of August and a visual spectacle many make a trek to see.

The best places to see these phenomena are Dark Sky Places—locations on Earth where there is a minimal amount of light pollution, enabling you full access to the night sky. And thanks to destination Reno Tahoe, one lucky person will win a trip for two to see the Perseids at Nevada’s Massacre Rim, one of the darkest places in the world.

Enter the contest by August 6 and you’ll be in the running to win two round-trip tickets to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, an overnight stay at a hotel, camping gear from REI, a selection of beers from local Reno breweries, a $200 gift card, and a 4x4 car rental to chariot you out to Massacre Rim.

Pointing at meteors. | Photo courtesy of Kurt Kuznicki, Friends of Nevada Wilderness

That last bit about the 4x4 is key. About 150 miles north of Reno in Washoe County, Massacre Rim is in a remote Wilderness Study Area, and one of only seven Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world. Translation: it is very secluded, and very dark. Getting out there means driving on gravel and dirt roads. The closest community is 40 miles away in Cedarville, so stock up on gas, water, and beef jerky when you can. There are a few cool pit stops to hit along the drive, though; check out our full Reno to Massacre Rim road trip itinerary here.

Make it to the Dark Sky Sanctuary and you’ll be rewarded with a magical experience unlike no other. The territory encompasses two volcanic plateaus, and wide valley floors around them; on the west side of Massacre Rim is a 1,200 foot tall escarpment that dramatically descends into a valley. Not only is the sky spectacular, the landscape inspires awe on its own.

Camping is permitted intermittently in the Sanctuary and you’ll want to invest in a red flashlight or headlamp, enabling you to see things if you need to without hindering seeing the shower and the night sky. While you're out there get different perspectives with a star walk, or try your hand at astrophotography. Or just sit back and enjoy the show.

And if for some reason you can't make it for the peak Perseids, no worries. The free trip is still valid through the end of September.

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Vanita Salisbury is Thrillist's Senior Travel Writer.