I’ve always been obsessed with the mystery of stars in the night sky, and years ago, I made it a tradition to eschew wild parties and big New Year’s Eve gatherings for a trip to a state or national park to ring in the New Year.

Every New Year’s Day, I strap on hiking boots and hit the trails for the first hike of the new year, but as the old year gives way to a fresh start at midnight, I prefer to watch the heavens above.

If you’re like me, you may live in a city that glows with millions of lights, causing light pollution that obscures the stars. Instead of seeing only half of what the night sky offers, why not head out to a state or national park to appreciate the universe’s own fireworks display of constellations, planets, and shooting stars?

Dark sky parks are becoming more popular, and the National Park Service offers wild areas that are protected from the effects of light pollution. In the United States, 27 national parks have been recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as International Dark Sky Parks and Sanctuaries. This distinction recognizes lands possessing “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment,” according to the International Dark-Sky Association.

So instead of downing that champagne in the middle of a loud, crowded party, grab a blanket and a picnic basket and go stargaze at one of these spectacular state and national dark sky parks.

Check out the top 8 list and full article from Travel Awaits here.


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