The Southwest is home to some of the darkest skies in the United States. How dark? To measure the quality of dark skies in a particular location, amateur astronomers often use the nine-level Bortle scale. Class 1 skies are darkest, while Class 9 are the most light-polluted. The Milky Way is generally visible in skies with a rating of 1, 2, or 3. Here are eight sites with Bortle ratings of 3 or less.
You can stargaze any time of the year, but views are best when there’s little or no moonlight. The Milky Way is best visible from late spring to early autumn; summer is ideal. Enjoy these eight great places to gaze up in wonder.