Discover Colorado’s top seven stunning spots for a night of stargazing
Colorado is, quite simply, a playground of outdoor activities for intrepid explorers. With mountainous landscapes to traverse by day and dark skies for stargazing at night, it’s a state that brims with adventure. 11 national parks, 58 mountain peaks and numerous lakes, rivers and reservoirs – this destination is a nature lover’s dream.
There’s nothing quite like gazing at a dramatic sky filled with luminous stars – here’s Colorado’s top seven locations for a night of astronomical adventures, as well as three luxury hotels to try whilst you’re there.
1 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Montrose
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park has always been an incredible location to see the stars and in 2015, it officially received the title of International Dark Sky Park, with its majestic canyons being the perfect backdrop for visitors to spend a night amongst the constellations.
The Black Canyon Astronomical Society, in partnership with local star-gazing groups, regularly leads night-time programmes with experienced astronomers and astro-photographers to capture the action in the night sky.
PLUS: As one of the most under-rated national parks in the US, there’s also three campgrounds for visitors to pitch up in. Time for your next glamping adventure?
2 Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Located far enough from city lights for a clear view of the night sky, the vast space at Garden of the Gods provides visitors with a perfect view of the starry sky, which lights up the summit of the 14,114ft Pikes Peak against a backdrop of towering boulders.
The unusual large sandstone red rock formations set the scene for an enchanting night of stargazing in which travellers can lie back and admire the constellations. You can also pitstop at a Public Star Party – in which telescopes are set up for visitors to view planets, galaxies and star clusters.
3 Grand Lake
The namesake lake of Grand Lake is ideal for spotting the constellations amongst the stars. Whether stargazers are searching for Cassiopeia or the Big Dipper, minimal obstacles stand in the way of catching a glimpse of these views as light pollution levels in the region are extremely low.
Known as the Western Gatewayto the Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake has a charming lakeside setting with quaint cabins lining the shore of the state’s largest natural lake.
4 Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Alamosa
The USA’s largest sand dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve provide travellers with a rare spectacle during the day and by night become even more mysterious.
As one of the only wild places in the world where rangers actively encourage visitors to do a self-guided exploration in complete darkness, intrepid explorers should plan their visit to coincide with a full moon to hike without the aid of a torch.
Ideal for the animal lovers, travellers can spot an array of local wildlife at night, including owls, kangaroo rats, and coyotes.
5 Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre, Denver
Not only does Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre provide visitors with the opportunity to watch some of the biggest musical stars live on stage, it also has an incredible night sky which hosts its own set of stars every single night.
Framed by the park’s natural red rock topography and views of Denver’s skyline in the distance, the amphitheatre has all the ingredients for an incredible night of stargazing.
6 Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park
Travellers can gaze up to the night sky in Rocky Mountain National Park – Colorado’s most popular National Park – and watch the stars whilst looking across the park’s renowned landscape.
During the summer months a team of park rangers lead after-dark activities, such as Astronomy in the Park and Stories behind the Moon and Stars. Don’t miss the Rocky National Park Night Sky Festival in Jult– over the course of three days, park rangers host late-night stargazing, as well as a daily show, Spirit of the Mountains.
7 San Luis Valley
San Luis Valley is not only a great location for stargazing, locals also claim it’s a hot spot for alien activity. Dozens of unexplained flying objects have been sighted in the area since 2007 with the nearby watchtower providing information on previous extra-terrestrial encounters.
The unobstructed views of the sky without any light competition means there isn’t anything getting in the way of the starry night-time show.
PLUS: Stay in style
1 Four Seasons Hotel Denver
Modern luxury meets fantastic location with this sleekly cosmopolitan stat. After a day of exploring, return to a luxury base filled with comfort and class.
Rooms from £240 per night, click here to book.
2 The Cliff House at Pikes Peak
Nestled besides Pikes Peak, this historic property offers guests a boutique mountain stay. Romantic, charming and a star-studded guestbook – if you love hotels with character, you’re in for a treat.
Rooms from £158 per night. Click here to book.
3 The ART, a hotel
Found just a one block stroll away from the Denver Museum of Art. this art-obsessed hotel is a must-book for any culture fan.
Marvel at a Leo Villareal-designed light installation in the lobby, attend a guided art tour and enjoy skyline views at the hotel’s terrace restaurant
Rooms from £158 per night. Click here to book.
Words by Sophie Ritchie