We get it: most people who go to Las Vegas aren’t there to see stars any further away than the nearest stage. That flash and sparkle are what Vegas is all about for most people.
If you’re reading this post, and you’re looking for how to go stargazing in Las Vegas, you’re probably not most people. Maybe you’ve visited many times and have seen all the shows and casinos; maybe you live in Vegas and want to understand how you can get away from the dazzling city lights to find some darkness and peace.
This is the post for you, with 25 amazing places to go stargazing in Las Vegas and the surrounding desert.
The Best Spots for Stargazing in Las Vegas
As you might expect, your options for stargazing in Las Vegas are slim. The map below shows the two places within the city, as well as a handful of places you can easily reach within an hours drive of the strip.
Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary
Gilcrease Nature Sanctuary is primarily a home for rescued animals, especially birds. It’s also a good place to escape the bright lights of the city. This makes it one of the few places in Las Vegas where you’ll find some real stargazing opportunities.
8103 Racel St., Las Vegas, NV 89131, gnslasvegas.org
Exploration Peak Park
Exploration Peak Park is a 2846ft tall mountain that’s full of playgrounds, walking trails, and water play areas. You can get a great view of the sky by hiking to the top. It’s great if you want to take your kids somewhere to play in the daytime and go stargazing at night.
9700 S. Buffalo Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89178, mountainsedge.com
Desert Bloom Park
Desert Bloom Park has everything from playgrounds, walking trails, basketballs courts, picnic areas, and more. It’s also isolated enough from the city to provide some good stargazing opportunities. It’s another place that kids can enjoy during the day while you wait for the sun to go down.
8405 S. Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89123, redrock.clarkcountynv.gov
Stargazing Spots Within One Hour of Las Vegas
If you’re willing to drive up to one hour outside of Las Vegas, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the variety of stargazing destinations you can easily reach. Whether you’re looking to get into nature or experience a bit of the old Wild West before the sun goes down, here are some of the best options.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
This conservation area can be found in the middle of the Mojave Desert surrounded by mountains. As such, it’s one of the best places to go stargazing around Las Vegas. Its 13-mile scenic drive provides many beautiful opportunities to see the night sky.
1000 Scenic Loop Dr., Las Vegas, NV 89161, redrockcanyonlv.org
Photo credit: Nevada Bureau of Land Management via Flickr
Sunrise Mountain stands 3.3 miles high to the east of Las Vegas, rising 3,366 feet in elevation. Stargazers will find this hike well worth the effort. It’s high altitude and isolation from the city means you can get an amazing view of the night sky from its peak.
Clark County, NV 89156
Frenchman Mountain is an even taller mountain than Sunrise Mountain. Its highest peak is 4.4 miles, making it a perfect spot to see the stars. However, please be careful when hiking up this mountain: it can be incredibly steep in some spots, and you should be aware of the risks especially if you’re planning to be on the mountain at night to try stargazing.
Sunrise Manor, NV 89156
Photo credit: Ken Lund via Flickr
Desert National Wildlife Refuge
The Desert National Wildlife Refuge consists of 1.6 million acres, making it the largest wildlife refuge in the 48 contiguous United States. It’s well-known for being home to a wide variety of animals, especially bighorn sheep. Its location in the Mojave Desert also offers an amazing view of the sky at night.
16001 Corn Creek Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89124, fws.gov
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
You might be surprised to see a location in Arizona on this list – but Vegas is so close to Arizona that it’s hard to pass up some of Arizona’s great stargazing opportunities!
At 1.5 million acres, Lake Mead National Recreation Area covers almost as much land as the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. It contains nine different wilderness areas and is a popular spot for boating, fishing, and swimming. You can also find plenty of nice, dark areas here for observing the sky.
Temple Bar Marina, AZ 86443, nps.gov
Photo credit: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner via Flickr
Mt. Charleston Lodge
At 7717ft., you’re almost guaranteed to get a good, up-close look at the stars from the peak on Mt. Charleston. The hike itself is fairly simple, and there’s a restaurant available once you reach the top. This peak is also about 30 degrees cooler than the valley below, making it a rather comfortable place to watch the stars.
5375 Kyle Canyon Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89124, mtcharlestonlodge.com
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
The Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is located next to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It is a frequent meeting place for the Las Vegas Astronomical Society. During this time, you have access to state of the art equipment and experts that can answer any questions you might have.
6375 Nevada 159, Blue Diamond, NV 89004, parks.nv.gov
The Pioneer Saloon is a charming western-themed saloon that has been the set for several Hollywood movies. Along with great food and amazing atmosphere, they also offer stargazing tours. It’s a bit expensive, but you get access to 18 telescopes and a guide who can tell you everything you need to know.
310 NV-161, Goodsprings, NV 89019, pioneersaloon.info
Photo credit: Dan Dilworth via Flickr
Bonnie Springs Ranch
Bonnie Springs Ranch is a fun amusement park that also has a western theme. It has everything from restaurants, petting zoos, a wax museum, and much more. Its location in the desert surrounded by mountains also makes it a great spot to base yourself for a night of stargazing.
16395 Bonnie Springs Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89124, bonniesprings.com
Stargazing Spots Within Two Hours of Las Vegas
Have up to two hours to drive out of Vegas for stargazing? You’ll be able to reach some of the best stargazing in the U.S.! If you can make a weekend out of a trip to one of these stargazing spots, be prepared for some of the darkest skies you’ve ever seen.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is the largest Dark Sky Park in the US. On top of this, it’s also considered Gold Tier, the highest level that a Dark Sky Park can attain. Stargazing events are often held here throughout the year, many of which are held by the Las Vegas Astronomical Society.
Death Valley, CA 92328, nps.gov
Photo credit: Mobilus in Mobili via Flickr
Grand Canyon National Park
Along with having an incredible view in the daytime, the Grand Canyon also offers some of the best views of the sky at night. Grand Canyon National Park was recently awarded a Provisional Dark Sky Status by the International Dark Sky Association and hopes to be given full Dark Sky Status by 2019. You’ll also find Star Parties being held here on a regular basis.
395 State Route 64, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023, nps.gov
How Good is the Stargazing in Las Vegas?
It should be no surprise that stargazing conditions are pretty awful within Las Vegas. It’s one of the most brightly lit cities in the country, which makes it very, very difficult to see the stars.
Photo credit: John Buie via Flickr
Strangely enough, you don’t have to journey too far for the opposite to become true. Once you get into the desert, it’s not hard to find a clear view of the sky. Death Valley National Park and Grand Canyon National Park, in particular, are considered two of the best places in the United States for stargazing.
To go stargazing in Las Vegas, all you have to do is be willing to leave the city!
Best Times of Year to Go Stargazing in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is surrounded by desert; you can go stargazing in the desert any time of the year. The skies are clear almost every night, no matter what season you’re in. In winter months, you may need to pack extra layers to combat how much the temperature will drop as the sun goes down.
Photo credit: Chao Yen via Flickr
That being said, you’ll have even better conditions if you wait for a New Moon each month. This way, you won’t have to worry about the light of moon interfering with your view of the stars.
Can You See the Milky Way in Las Vegas?
As with every city we’ve created a stargazing guide for, you’re not going to see the Milky Way in Las Vegas itself. Still, it is possible to see it in a few places outside the city if the conditions are just right.
Photo credit: Daxis via Flickr
If you’re willing to make the trip, Death Valley National Park and Grand Canyon National Park will give you your best chance of seeing our galaxy. The stargazing in these two places is fantastic in general. You’ll find it was well worth the drive.