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    22 US Towns Where The Sky Is So Dark You Can Pretty Much Always See The Stars

    Where stars pop and the Milky Way glows.

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    Today, certain communities across the US — and the world — are on a mission to bring back and preserve the natural darkness of night so we can see the stars the way they were meant to be seen.

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    These International Dark Sky Communities (officially designated by the International Dark Sky Association) often choose to replace or forgo street lights and regulate commercial business lighting so the night sky can take center stage. The result is pretty amazing: inky blackness punctuated by glittering stars, constellations, and the dense haze of the Milky Way.

    1. Torrey — Utah

    Eph Hanks Tower with the glittering Milky Way in the sky, just before dawn
    Tomwachs / Getty Images

    The people of Torrey took a cue from the nearby Capitol Reef National Park, a designated International Dark Sky Park, and made a stand against the harsh artificial light polluting the area's skies. The result is a community with outdoor lighting rules that ensure stellar nighttime views both in town and in the neighboring park.

    2. Village of Oak Creek — Arizona

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    Also known as Big Park, the Village of Oak Creek sits just outside Sedona among red rock buttes and cliff-walled canyons. It may be near the city, but it's managed to keep light pollution to a minimum. Visitors — who come to fish, climb, and camp in the stunning desert terrain — are rewarded with optimal nighttime views. To call it pretty is an understatement.

    3. Beverly Shores — Indiana

    4. Borrego Springs — California

    dirt road through the desert at night with stars emerging as the sun sets
    Ianmcdonnell / Getty Images

    Serious stargazers should skip the big-city draw of nearby San Diego for the glittering skies of Borrego Springs, home to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (the state's largest state park). Thanks to the desert’s sweltering summers and frigid winters, the area is largely undeveloped, leaving the night skies dark and clear. Just make sure to pack a jacket — even during the heat of summer, the temperature drops at night.

    5. Dripping Springs — Texas

    6. Camp Verde — Arizona

    7. Helper, Utah

    stars shine in a the night sky as the sun tucks beneath the horizon
    15308757 / Getty Images

    You’ll find the small and wonderfully dark town of Helper a couple of hours south of Salt Lake City, near the Wasatch Plateau. The town has a rich mining and railroading history — and a legend that involves transporting illegal goods through tunnels during Prohibition. These days, you can enjoy your drink of choice worry-free, with entertainment provided by Helper's carefully preserved dark, starry sky.

    8. Cottonwood — Arizona

    9. Ketchum — Idaho

    the milky way glistens in the night sky over Della Mountain in idaho
    Shanecotee / Getty Images

    Sitting next to the remote and rugged Sawtooth National Forest is the small mountain town of Ketchum. Here, it’s all about skiing the nearby Bald Mountain in the winter and heading to the woods and rivers in the summer. But no matter when you find yourself in Ketchum, when night falls, the stars and Milky Way have everyone doing one thing: looking up.

    10. Fredericksburg — Texas

    11. Flagstaff — Arizona

    silhouette of two trees with the milky way glittering in a dark sky
    Geoffrey Hunt / Getty Images

    Flagstaff was the world’s first International Dark Sky Community — a designation that now extends as far as Niue, a tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean. It was here in Arizona in 1958 that the world’s first outdoor lighting ordinance was put in place — regulations that have kept the city's night skies so dark, both the Lowell Observatory and US Naval Observatory call Flagstaff home.

    12. Norwood — Colorado

    13. Fountain Hills, Arizona

    a cactus in the foreground with blurry star trails and the Superstition Mountains in the background, in Lost Dutchman State Park
    Robertsilberblatt / Getty Images

    Fountain Hills is located surprisingly close to the bright lights of Phoenix, but thanks to the McDowell Mountains, the town has been able to maintain its revered starry skies. And here, there's more than one reason to tilt your chin toward the sky — the city is also known for its massive fountain, which can shoot water 560 feet in the air.

    14. Horseshoe Bay — Texas

    Bright Stars on the Skies of Texas Hill Country
    Porquenostudios / Getty Images

    Just an hour from its fellow Texas Hill Country and dark sky counterparts — Dripping Springs, Wimberley Valley, and Fredericksburg — is the community of Horseshoe Bay. The town, which sits on the shore of Lake Lyndon B. Johnson, takes pride in its lack of light pollution and the resulting dark, starry skies. Here, there are no streetlights to be found and most commercial properties forgo brightly lit signs.

    15. Ridgway — Colorado

    Scenic landscape showing space with stars and the Milky Way with rugged mountain silhouettes
    Adventure_photo / Getty Images

    At the base of the San Juan Mountains, in an open valley that remains largely untouched, is the small mountain community of Ridgway. The combination of open space and endless mountain trails are more than enough to keep locals and visitors entertained, but the real magic happens when the sun drops behind the jagged peaks and the Milky Way glows against the inky black sky.

    16. Lakewood Village — Texas

    Beautiful night sky with vivid milky way and warm light over the horizon
    Wisanuboonrawd / Getty Images

    What was once envisioned to be a golf course community north of Dallas and Fort Worth has evolved into a fully residential town of around 900 people. The lack of commercial businesses in Lakewood Village keep the night skies dark, and its location on Lake Lewisville only makes the stargazing that much more magical. Grab a drink and a blanket, and enjoy the show.

    17. Homer Glen — Illinois

    18. Sedona — Arizona

    A bright green meteor streaks through the Milky Way and starry night sky above Cathedral Rock in Sedona, Arizona.
    Mdesigner125 / Getty Images

    Offering a true Old West feel, thanks to its jutting red rock buttes and steep canyon walls, Sedona has long drawn tourists who come to hike, bike, jeep, and golf in its mild climate. Somehow, amidst all the hubbub, Sedona has remained committed to the preservation of the area’s dark skies. Just another thing to keep adventure seekers coming back for more.

    19. Thunder Mountain Pootsee Nightsky (Kaibab Indian Reservation) — Arizona

    20. Westcliffe and Silver Cliff — Colorado

    A view of the Milky Way in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.
    Erick4x4 / Getty Images

    The high altitude of these sister communities — both at just under 8,000 feet in elevation — get stargazers that much closer to the cloudy Milky Way and Orion’s sparkling belt. Thanks to their rural setting and focus on agriculture and ranching, when the stars come out to play, it's hard to do anything but stare.

    21. Hawthorn Woods — Illinois

    22. Wimberley Valley — Texas

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