Stargazing is a beautiful adventure, perfect for families that want to explore nature and get away from the city.
Colorado’s wide-open spaces and isolated areas make it one of the best US states to stargaze in. Taking kids stargazing in one of these mesmerizing locations will give them a long-lasting memory and a new appreciation for nature and the universe.
Below are the best stargazing spots in Colorado to take your kids where you will feel safe and have breathtaking views of the sky.
- Garden of the Gods
- Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
- San Luis Valley (UFO Watchtower)
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
- Mount Evans
- The Town of Crestone
- Red Feather Lakes
- Horsetooth Reservoir
- Monument Lake
- Dinosaur National Monument
- Jackson Lake State Park
- The Town of Naturita
- Mesa Verde National Park
- Tips For Stargazing
- Final Thoughts
Garden of the Gods
You can stargaze along the Garden of the Gods Road, where bright stars are visible against the dark backdrop of large boulders.
The peaks of the nearby mountains seem to glow in the dark when covered in snow, making the experience even more magical. The boulders don’t curve in toward the road, so the sky is wide open, making it easy to see the gorgeous stars in the galaxy.
Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater
The Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater is one of the best spots to visit in Colorado and to stargaze.
It’s just 30 minutes outside of Denver and boasts beautiful red and copper-colored rocks that tower over you.
While the views of the city and surrounding terrain are stunning, you can also lay down and admire the constellations from this spot. It’s convenient because you can lay on the amphitheater steps or hike to a higher location to enjoy the twinkling stars.
San Luis Valley (UFO Watchtower)
If you want to see some stunning stars and maybe catch a glimpse of an alien spaceship, go to the UFO watchtower in San Luis Valley.
There are few other lights or obstructions, so you have a crystal clear view of the sky and any suspicious flying objects that may pass by. You can also read about past alien encounters detailed on signs inside and near the watchtower.
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve
The Great Sand Dunes are a treat to visit during the day, as you can gawk at the massive piles of sand that flow with the wind.
But at night, it’s a spacious and open place to admire the night sky. And rangers encourage you to do so! You can grab a free star chart and moon calendar at the visitor center and lay down on the massive dunes to watch the stars move across the sky.
And during a full moon, you may not even need a flashlight to walk around, but bring one just in case!
The Mount Evans Scenic Byway is just outside Denver and is the highest road in North America. So it’s also an ideal spot to watch the stars twinkle.
There are plenty of places to park the car and lay on rocks or in the grass to watch the stars, but it’s best to take the time and drive to the tippy-top where the views are perfect.
There was once a public observatory at the summit, but unfortunately, it’s no longer open to visitors. But Mount Evans is still a stellar place to glimpse the Colorado night sky.
The Town of Crestone
In the Sangre de Cristo Mountains lies this spiritual town called Crestone. Because of the lack of streetlights, bright lights, and tall buildings, it became an International Dark Sky Community in 2021.
The best way to stargaze here is to stay in the tiny town overnight, so you don’t have to drive elsewhere in the dead of night.
Visiting this small town is enlightening, and it features two dozen spiritual centers, retreats, and sacred landmarks that highlight the magic of the night sky.
Red Feather Lakes
Red Feather Lakes is a small town with loads of lakes and fabulous views of the stars. It has a small population, with less than 400 residents.
But there are tons of hotels to stay in so you can relish in the beautiful constellations that are clear to the eye. There’s practically no light pollution or tall buildings to block your view.
The best way to stargaze here is to set up camp near one of the many lakes to admire the stars in the sky and the reflection in the lake.
So you can comfortably sit and gaze at the stars and their reflection without the light pollution from the city. And the county road is not busy, so few cars will drive by at night obstructing your clear view.
If you’re up for a short hike, you can climb to the top of Horsetooth Rock to get a better view of the sky and dazzling stars.
The Monument Lake area near Trinidad is known as the Jewel of the West because of its fresh mountain air and idyllic view of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
It has unobstructed views of the sky and allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. There is no light pollution, and you can have a tranquil stargazing experience that you and the kids will remember forever.
You’ll be able to enjoy the stars, as well as the breathtaking views of the mountain range.
Dinosaur National Monument
Dinosaur National Monument is an ideal stargazing spot in Colorado, especially if you have kids.
However, it’s very far from Denver in the corner of the state, so if you live in the city, it’s quite a road trip. The area has been described as having exceptional darkness and is on the International Dark-Sky Association‘s list of the best places for stargazing.
There are guided rangers programs and night hikes where you can go in groups to find the best places to admire the sky with your naked eye.
Jackson Lake State Park
Jackson Lake State Park is near Fort Morgan and is one of the most scenic places to visit, day or night. But at night, the lack of light pollution and crystal clear lake makes it ideal for stargazing.
The massive lake has soft sandy beaches that are a cozy spot to watch the stars and admire the perfect night sky. In addition to the darkness, it’s also a tranquil area, so you won’t hear cars speeding by or other distractions.
The Town of Naturita
South of Grand Junction is the quaint town of Naturita, one of the designated International Dark Sky Communities. It’s a few hours outside of Denver, but the perfect spot to take kids on a stargazing adventure that will wow them.
Many of these designated communities have little to offer guests. But Naturita has lodging options and many places to get food or sit down for dinner or breakfast, depending on how long you watch the stars!
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park encourages visitors to stay overnight to have a relaxing stargazing experience.
There is the View Lodge nearby, or you can rough it on the seasonal Morefield Campground. This park has friendly rangers ready to offer any help or advice. And the area was recognized as the 100th International Dark-Sky Park in 2021.
There are ranger-led stargazing programs you can hop in on so the kids, and you get the most educational stargazing experience possible.
Tips For Stargazing
To maximize your stargazing adventure in Colorado, keep the following tips in mind. There’s more to stargazing than just laying on the ground, and with these techniques, you can become a pro!
Check the Weather
Always check the weather before stargazing. Not only do you not want to get rained on or sit outside in the cold, but you want a clear sky. Don’t go stargazing on super cloudy nights where visibility is low, because you’ll likely go home disappointed.
Watch the Horizon
Stargazing pros will tell you to position yourself in a place where you can see the horizon. Wherever the sun sets, the stars will be bright and visible once the sun goes down.
So if you set yourself up to watch the sunset, you can expect some bright and shining stars in that area once the sun disappears.
Track the Moon
The phase of the moon will impact how well you can see the stars. A new moon is the best phase to stargaze because the stars will be brighter, and a full moon is the worst time because the stars are dull.
Try to plan your trip right before, after, or during a new moon. Avoid times close to a full moon for optimal stargazing.
Create a Cozy Spot
You should bring blankets, folding chairs, pillows, and other items to make the stargazing experience more comfortable for you and the kids.
No one wants to lay down on a hard rock or have bugs in the grass crawl over them. It’s easy to bring a thick blanket to enhance the experience and keep everyone happy.
Some of these places are a bit out of the way, so bring snacks or even a packed meal. Doing this means you can sit and gaze at the stars for longer, without getting hungry or cranky. And it’s fun to munch on your favorite chips or candy while admiring the universe.
Get the Gear
If you want to enhance your stargazing experience in Colorado, you should stock up on some stargazing gear. These kinds of items will make it easier to spot constellations and view the magnificence of the stars. You don’t need these items, but they’ll make your stargazing adventure even better.
- Telescope: A telescope is the best way to truly see the stars. They can be expensive, typically costing over $300 for a decent model. But if you stargaze often, consider investing.
- Binoculars: A pair of binoculars is a more affordable option. You can buy a decent pair for around $30 or get a fancier pair for $100. But they’ll help you focus on constellations and see more stars.
- Map of the stars: You can buy a map of the stars to learn the constellations and familiarize yourself with the sky. This tool is especially fun for kids as they can try to locate the constellations or specific stars they see on the map.
The lack of light pollution and large buildings in these locations makes them ideal for a stargazing adventure. Whether you are an experienced stargazer with all the fancy equipment or just a newbie with a blanket, you’ll fall in love with these Colorado stargazing spots.