Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Credit: Miles Willis / Getty Images

Stargazers look for unobstructed views, clear weather, and darkness. Canyonlands National Park, in dry, lonely southeast Utah, reliably has all three. Travelers can get an excellent view of the night sky from one of the park's car-accessible campgrounds, but we'd suggest locking up the truck and packing in toward the Needles District, a stunning collection of canyons, arches, and striped sandstone spires. The weather is typically mild enough that there is no need to bother with a tent – though a significant other and a flask are recommended. Roll out a sleeping pad amidst the gnarled juniper trees and sandstone buttes and watch as the stone melts from red to deep purple to black. Contemplate the thick belt of the Milky Way, count shooting stars, then pick out Orion – or just sit there watching the heavens unspool across the sky. To really see the wild, you have to look straight up.

More information: The Needles District is 75 miles southwest of Moab. It's possible to backpack the loop, although you'll have to pack in all your water. Early fall is the best time to visit.