Our National Forests and Grasslands provide 193 million acres of prime stargazing. On your next nighttime visit, keep these tips in mind to maximize your view of the stars!
While the National Forest System offers thousands of developed campgrounds to call home for a few nights, a better way to experience the night sky is away from the crowds. Dispersed camping offers a more secluded and private overnight experience that will take you away from the noise – and more importantly – the lights of a developed campground.
Also, consider “turning” off caveman TV. Having a fire is great entertainment, but can distract you from a better show above.
Regardless of where you camp to see the night sky, be sure to follow Leave No Trace principles.
To truly experience a full night of stars, sleep directly under them. Invest in a hammock or simply ditch the tent and bundle up for the changing night sky.
As you make plans for a fun night of stargazing, check the moon cycle and avoid a visit around the full moon. While the full moon can be dramatic, it also provides too much light to properly see the night sky.
While it may seem obvious, you’ll want to get somewhere dark. And surprisingly enough, some of our National Forests are quite urban. There is a chance you may see some light pollution on the Angeles or Uinta-Wasatch-Cache to name a few. Head deep into the woods! Or at least, a more rural National Forest!
White or blue bulbs from a head lamp reduce your night vision but red lights don’t! Consider purchasing a head lamp that has a red light setting or using translucent red tape to modify your existing head lamp.
A “normal” night sky can be breathtaking by itself. If you’d like to make it a bit more exciting, check to see when the next meteor shower or planet sighting will be.
While we can all probably pick out the Big Dipper, a star chart can really make you feel like an accomplished astronomer. Bring your smart phone and download the Star Chart app, NASA app, or Night Sky lite to truly feel like a pro.
Some of the best unobstructed views of the night sky are on water shores. Clear of trees, lakes and rivers provide panoramic views of the night sky. Use caution when exploring rocky or wet areas in the night!
Nothing will ruin a wonderful evening under the night sky quicker than shivering. Even in some of the hottest climates, temperatures will cool down at night. Grab an extra blanket and jacket and settle into one of nature’s greatest shows!
We believe good things come from people spending time outside. It’s about more than standing on the mountain top. It’s about nourishment and learning. It’s about protecting what sustains us. It’s about building relationships with the outdoors and each other. LEARN MORE and share the pledge to Adventure Like You Give A Damn.
Want to learn more about our National Forests? The National Forest Foundation promotes the enhancement and public enjoyment of the 193-million-acre National Forest System. By directly engaging Americans and leveraging private and public funding, the NFF improves forest health and Americans’ outdoor experiences. The NFF’s programs inform millions of Americans about the importance of these treasured landscapes. Each year, the NFF restores fish and wildlife habitat, plants trees in areas affected by fires, insects and disease, improves recreational opportunities, and enables communities to steward their National Forests and Grasslands. Learn more at www.nationalforests.org