15 Incredible Places to Stargaze in Colorado

With 10 DarkSky International Parks and five DarkSky International Communities throughout the state, Colorado provides access to some of the best stargazing opportunities in the world.

By: Colorado.com Staff Writer
Updated: April 10, 2024

While these certified destinations provide some of the darkest, clearest skies for witnessing the cosmos, there’s ample opportunity across the state’s four corners to take in starry skies.

Explore the vast beauty of the Milky Way or watch as the stars light up our tallest mountain peaks. Take a guided trip through the galaxy with an astronomer-led star party or cozy up for a private experience. Whether you lie under the heavens of the San Luis Valley or get a little closer to the stars on the peak of a stately mountain, there is nothing like seeing constellations speckled across a clear Colorado sky.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

A DarkSky International Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park near Alamosa is already otherworldly during the daytime, but at night, it’s easy to imagine you’re on another planet. It’s also one of the only wild places in the world where rangers encourage self-guided exploration in total darkness. To take a gorgeously surreal night hike without the aid of a flashlight, plan your visit during a full moon. You may be treated to glimpses of the local wildlife, including owls, kangaroo rats, coyotes and even bobcats. If you’re more interested in sky than sand, go during a new moon instead, and you'll get unfettered views of star-dappled skies. A variety of guided programs are also available during the summer — check the program schedule before your visit.

Garden of the Gods Road

Colorado Springs 
Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs is located far enough from city lights for a lucid view of nature's fireworks. The snow-capped white summit of Pikes Peak seems to glow in the dark, set against a backdrop of silhouetted boulders and some of the galaxy’s most beautiful stars. Take in deep breaths of fresh air, lean back and let the constellations captivate you. And when daylight breaks, take in views that are just as gorgeous as they are at night, as the striking red rock formations seem to pierce the blue sky.  

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre

Not only is the all-natural Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison one of the world’s most desired music venues for bands and fans alike, it’s also a beautiful place to spend an evening stargazing. With its panoramic view of the city of Denver beyond and the solitude of a mountainside setting, Red Rocks is truly a gift of nature. The best time to catch the stars is during one of Red Rocks' summer concerts or Film on the Rocks.

Dinosaur National Monument

Near Dinosaur
Added to DarkSky International's list of Dark Sky Parks for its "exceptional natural darkness," Dinosaur National Monument in the far northwest corner of the state hosts ranger programs and special events May through October to get visitors deep into the dark. There are also many prime places to view the night sky with either the naked eye or telescopes and binoculars. Until now, the monument has been most famous for the epic whitewater rafting found on the Dinosaur and Yampa rivers, as well as incredibly preserved dinosaur fossils and Fremont culture rock art.

UFO Watchtower – San Luis Valley

At the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, you're in for more than just stargazing. Locals claim the San Luis Valley is a hot spot for alien activity, and dozens of unexplained flying object sightings are rumored to have occurred at this locale since 2007. At the watchtower, there's little or no light competition obstructing your view — so it’s just you, the stars … and perhaps the occasional extraterrestrial flying by. The watchtower offers information on past “encounters” and theories behind the sightings. Come see for yourself. Maybe you’ll be one of the lucky ones. Find other quirky roadside attractions in Colorado.

Curecanti National Recreation Area

Between Gunnison and Montrose
The rugged landscape of Curecanti is a necessary beauty for everyone to experience. Come to this International Dark Sky Park on a clear night, and you’ll be certain to witness plenty of distant planets, stars and faint stardust — a glowing cloud of stars too far away to be separated by the naked eye. If the water is still, you may even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way in its reflection. Three sprawling reservoirs mark the heart of Curecanti, beginning with Colorado’s largest body of water (Blue Mesa Reservoir), followed by Morrow Point Reservoir at the entrance to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the East Portal. A location as vast and unpopulated as this is a rarity.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Near Montrose and Gunnison
Bordered by the vast open spaces of western Colorado, Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has always been a phenomenal place to see the stars. In 2015, the canyon received the International Dark Sky Park designation, officially making it one of the best places in the world to go off-grid for a few hours. The Black Canyon Astronomical Society, in partnership with other local stargazing groups, conducts nighttime programs throughout the year (with more in summer) — using both telescopes and the naked eye — with experienced astronomers and astro-photographers on hand to assist visitors in the darkness. The park also hosts an annual astronomy festival each September.

Hovenweep National Monument

Near Cortez
Straddling the Colorado and Utah border, Hovenweep National Monument is an International Dark Sky Park that also preserves Ancestral Puebloan ruins, as well as untouched views of the night sky. Some say that this civilization’s rock art, found among the national monument’s ruins, depicts major celestial events like summer and winter solstices — suggesting that the area has been a favorite for stargazing for more than 800 years. Explore this lost civilization by day to view the petroglyphs for yourself and cozy up for stargazing by night at the visitor center parking lot and campground. Visit during the spring and summer for ranger-presented stargazing programs.

    Mesa Verde National Park

    Near Cortez
    Mesa Verde National Park offers the opportunity to step back in time with beautifully preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings that are more than 700 years old. While this park is well known for its rich history and culture, it’s also an International Dark Sky Park situated in the heart of the darkest skies remaining in the contiguous United States. Plan to spend the night May through October at the Morefield Campground or Far View Lodge for exceptional stargazing and ranger-led programs. But if you’re just passing through, Geologic Overlook, Mancos Overlook and the Montezuma Valley Overlook provide easy public access.

    Jackson Lake State Park

    Near Fort Morgan
    Jackson Lake State Park in northeastern Colorado is one of the most scenic places to watch the Colorado sky. It was named an International Dark Sky Park in 2020, making it the first Colorado State Park to hold the coveted designation. With its large, glassy surface, the lake acts as the perfect mirror for the Milky Way. Known as “the oasis in the plains,” this park has been ranked as one of the top 15 park beaches by Reserve America. The peaceful silence of the evenings, the sandy beaches and the breathtaking view of the stars at Jackson Lake are definitely a sight worth seeing. 

    Westcliffe & Silver Cliff

    Westcliffe and Silver Cliff
    Prefer your constellations with a side of civilization? Located about an hour west of Pueblo, the two towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff were the first communities in Colorado to be recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association. They're also two of the highest altitude International Dark Sky communities in the world. Not surprisingly, the area is home to many passionate stargazers. Soon after receiving certification, the community constructed the Smokey Jack Observatory, where visitors can absorb the full impact of an unobstructed Milky Way through a computer-guided Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The local International Dark-Sky Association chapter also hosts a series of Star Parties throughout the summer.

    Rocky Mountain National Park

    Grand Lake or Estes Park
    What’s more breathtaking than a Colorado summer-night sky? A summer-night sky in Rocky Mountain National Park, where the stars become a glittering canvas framed by the park’s world-famous topography. Throughout the summer, a dedicated team of rangers accompanied by volunteer astronomers leads a variety of special after-dark programs, including Astronomy in the Park and Stories Behind the Moon and Stars.

    Chimney Rock National Monument

    Chimney Rock
    By day, Chimney Rock National Monument, located at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, is a breathtaking blend of nature and culture near Pagosa Springs. Amid the windswept forest, the archaeological ruins and ancient artifacts of the Chaco culture have remained largely unchanged for 1,000 years. By night, ancestral wisdom and modern telescopic technology meet — with unique Night Sky Archaeoastronomy Programs ideal for visitors of any age. During the 3.5-hour programs, visitors of all ages learn how the Chaco people used the stars for navigation, timekeeping and spiritual guidance.

    Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

    Accessibly located an hour west of Colorado Springs, this national monument contains some of the richest fossil deposits in the world. Walk the trails to view and learn about the park’s incredible fossils by day, then take in stunning views of the stars by night. This International Dark Sky Park provides views of the Milky Way, other galaxies, star clusters, nebulae, planets, comets, and much more from the Hornbek Homestead area and parking lot. Take part in the park’s Night Sky Program hosted by the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society for a guided look at the marvels above through their telescopes. 

    Slumgullion Center

    Near Lake City
    Fifty-eight acres of undeveloped property in the scenic San Juan Mountains provides the perfect remote darkness needed for shining skies. Each summer, this International Dark Sky destination provides weekly stargazing events every Wednesday at Windy Point Overlook.

    Other Starry Ideas

    These programs can guide you to the best spots for stargazing.

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