Generally speaking, the farther you can get from city lights, the more stars you’ll see. But you don’t need to venture deep into the boonies to get a clear view of the night sky. If you live in or around Denver, there are at least three great stargazing spots within a 30-minute drive of you.
Please remember: Stargazing is a sedentary activity, so bring more layers than you’d expect, even on warm nights. And if you don’t have a telescope (most people don’t), bring a pair of binoculars.
Morrison – Red Rocks
Situated on a natural incline with an unbeatable view of Denver and the surrounding plains, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre offers an outstanding view of the night sky. Sitting in the amphitheatre itself will get you a panoramic view of the city, but stargazing is better in the upper north parking lot or the neighboring meadows, where light pollution is reduced.
Of course, you’ll want to check the venue’s concert calendar before you head up. Unless you want your stargazing paired with a blasting soundtrack and a few thousand screaming fans, that is.
Golden – Lookout Mountain Road
Lookout Mountain Road is best known for providing access to Buffalo Bill’s grave, but it’s also a great place to glimpse some galaxies. The road is shielded from the city lights by the surrounding foothills, and there are dozens of spots along the way to pull off, break out the folding chairs, and gaze skyward.
Getting there is easy: Take I-70 west to exit 256. Turn right at the top of the ramp, then take a quick left. Take another right onto Lookout Mountain Road, and set up any place you like (except in the middle of the road, of course).
Sedalia – State Highway 67
With a population of just 206, Sedalia is one of the smallest towns in Colorado. About 30 minutes south of downtown, it’s far enough from Denver and Castle Rock to block out most city lights, but still easy to reach. Mix in light traffic and ample roadside pulloff opportunities, and you’ve a got a perfect stargazing spot.
To get there from Denver, take Highway 85 south for almost 25 miles. Once you get into town, find State Highway 67 on the right. The area is sparsely populated, but look for signs to make sure you aren’t trespassing before you set up a roadside star-viewing station.
Photo by gus_the_mouse