See the Mind-blowing Photos From the National Parks ‘Park Star Wars’ Instagram Competition

U.S. National Parks are some of the most incredible pieces of land in the world. They have beautiful mountains, rushing rivers, amazing camping sites, all kinds of wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes. They’re also some of the best places to stargaze in the United States. But among the 60 National Parks that are scattered across the American landscape, which National Park stars are the best?

The National Park Service wants to try and find out. The NPS posted a message on Instagram asking which of the locations has the “best park stars” in the country, fittingly calling it #ParkStarWars. The message asked for people and the individual National Parks Instagram accounts to tag their own photos showing off incredible star scenes.

The NPS account—which is unverified, but definitely is the official National Park Service account, according to the NPS website—used a shot from the National Park of American Samoa to kick things off, showing the Milky Way from Ofu Island:

Yellowstone National Park shared a few different photos for the contest, poking back at Joshua Tree National Park and Badlands National Park while talking up Yellowstone as the park with the best stars:

Badlands National Park got in on the action also with a beautiful photo with some sheet, making a joke about why “Baaaadlands” has the best stars:


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Don’t let the other parks pull the wool over your eyes. Ewe know that the Baaaadlands has the best night skies! (NPS/Phil Varela)💫🐏 . [photo description: silhouette of bighorn sheep against the night sky with a shooting star in the background] . #parkstarwars #parkafterdark #midwestisbest #badlandsnps #findyourpark #midwestnps #hifromsd . @nationalparkservice – Thanks for remaining impartial during the #parkstarwars. However, know that we are #inittowinit against @joshuatreenps @saguaronationalpark @yellowstonenps @deathvalleynps @capulinvolcanonps @kenaifjordsnps @wrangellstenps @alaskanps @klondike_alaska_nps #didweforgetanyone? #dotheyevenstandachance? #notatall

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Here are some of the most incredible, funniest, and coolest-looking responses for #ParkStarWars.


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Can you imagine a wild place made of over SIX @yellowstonenps ? Perpetually snow-capped peaks of massive volcanoes with 5x as much lava as @mountrainiernps (check Mt Sanford at 250 cubic miles of lava 🌋), more glaciers than any other area in North America (3,121 is the current count, sorry @glacierbaynps ) oh, and less than a million residents… in the ENTIRE ginormous state? ⭐️ That’s right folks, move over, the largest National Park in the United States is not messing around, and we’ve got the stars to prove it, thanks to the photography of @jerad.white . October skies in Alaska are crisp, clear, and often multi-colored! ⭐️ PS- Watch our InstaStory tomorrow to get a better understanding of how the Aurora Borealis works! ⭐️ #parkstarwars #throwingshade #biggestandbest #bringit #findyourdark #halftheparkisafterdark #themsfightingwords ⭐️ NPS KJP: A dark red sky full of stars with a curvy dusty road ahead.

A post shared by Wrangell-St. Elias Nat’l Park (@wrangellstenps) on


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#DarkSkies are something to celebrate everywhere they occur! But sadly, they are in decline, as light pollution threatens these amazing views. Light pollution can also interfere with the natural processes of nocturnal animals. No matter what park you root for in the #ParkStarWars, commit to helping this amazing resource by educating yourself, reducing light pollution where you live, and spreading the word! Link in our bio to learn more about star viewing in DV and light pollution. Oh and did we mention that we have moving rocks under our dark skies? 😉 #OnlyPark #SorryNotSorry @joshuatreenps @saguaronationalpark @yellowstonenps @badlandsnps (pic thanks to @missjessbess) #FindYourPark #AfterDark {image description: on a flat playa, a trail leads to one large rock, under a star-filled sky} (Note: traveling to the Racetrack, pictured here, requires planning and preparation for backcountry travel. Contact us for trip planning info)

A post shared by Death Valley National Park (@deathvalleynps) on


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#ParkStarWars With apologies to @joshuatreenps, @bigbendnps takes the cake with its incredible horizon-to-horizon pitch dark skies. And a south-looking entrance sign 🤗. The Milky Way is so bright on a clear night it casts shadows, and on a cloudy night you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Bravo to the @nationalparkservice for taking concrete steps to protect dark skies, so we don’t lose our historical connection to the cosmos! Although I’ve seen a few, this is also the only time I’ve been lucky enough to have my shutter open at the right moment to capture a solar flare from an Iridium communications satellite ✨ Nikon D700 Sky: Rokinon 24mm, 13 sec exposure, f/1.4, ISO 2500 Ground: same, just 30 sec exposure #wanderlust #optoutside #texas #bigbend #bigbendnps #bigbendnationalpark #nightsky #nikon #nature #mountains #canyons #nationalparks #chisosmountains #astrophotography #astro #cosmos #exploration #galaxy #newmilkyway #solarflare #nightimages #milkyway #milkywaychasers #longexposure #longexposure_shots #latergram #universe #nightphotography #halftheparkisafterdark

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Okay, you’ve forced us to bring out an Aurora Timelapse. Don’t test the might of Alaska night! These wars are escalating to new heights. They also bring up an excellent learning opportunity about light pollution 💡 a growing problem not just for those in cities, but also for your beloved #nationalparks because light pollution can stretch over 200 miles. And Anchorage happens to be 196 miles from the start of our Park… learn more about the little things you can do to cut down on artificial light at the link in our bio. 💡 Thanks to local photographer @mckinneymakesmedia for this stunning timelapse! . Oh, and fair warning, other #parkstarwars participants… there’s plenty more where this came from. 💚💙💚 #parkstarwars #throwingshade (literally) #biggestandbest #findyourdark #halftheparkisafterdark 💙💚💙 NPS KJP: A timelapse of a blue-green Aurora Borealis with a starry night sky in the background.

A post shared by Wrangell-St. Elias Nat’l Park (@wrangellstenps) on

Check out more incredible shots from the contest at the #ParkStarWars hashtag on Instagram.

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