Posted on 10 Apr 2024

Dark Skies, Bright Stars: Stargazing in the Colorado Rockies

Mankind has forever looked to the skies with fascination and awe, just as so many people did this past week witnessing the spectacular solar eclipse. However, beyond these rare cosmic events, there is a dazzling display of stars and planets every night. And the simple pleasure of stargazing is as mesmerizing as any celestial spectacle.

Some of the best locations for stargazing are areas with minimal light pollution, cloud-free skies, higher elevation and lower humidity – the Colorado Rockies! Home to several Dark Sky Parks and Communities, Colorado is one of the best places in the world to stargaze!

Colorado lays claim to 15 of the world’s 196 International Dark Sky Places, and given the state’s high elevation, low humidity, and clear skies, you have a good chance of viewing the Milky Way; something approximately 80% of Americans and a third of the planet’s residence can’t see due to light pollution.

While these state parks aren’t officially certified, they make the list of some of the best places to view some spectacular stars or a meteor shower, and they’re close to Steamboat, Breckenridge, Vail and Beaver Creek. So, you don’t even have to camp out to catch a falling star, you can do that from the deck of one of Moving Mountains’ luxury vacation homes.

  • Pearl Lake State Park
  • Steamboat Lake State Park
  • Stagecoach State Park
  • Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest
  • Sylvan Lake
  • Arapahoe National Forest

Dark Sky International restores the nighttime environment and protects communities from the harmful effects of light pollution through outreach, advocacy, and conservation. The organization certifies communities, parks and protected areas around the world.

Gear Up

Stargazing requires little more than being able to stand outside and look to the skies! Throw in some patience and curiosity, and an ability to identify a few of the more notable stars, planets and constellations in the night sky, and you're set. There are few things to elevate your stargazing:

  • Binoculars - while there are specialized binoculars for stargazing, a pair of regular binoculars will provide more than enough zoom for amateur stargazers.
  • Star Charts - some good recommendations for digital versions of star charts with interactive maps of the night sky are: TheSkyLive and Stellarium.
  • Fleece Jacket - even in the middle of summer, it can get chilly at night in the mountains. You'll need to bundle up. 
  • Bug Spray - the bugs come out just like the stars at night!

Know Your Constellations
In the northern hemisphere, the most easily identifiable constellations are Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, within which, respectively, you’ll find the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. The Big Dipper is visible in the northern sky most of the year. It looks like a giant pan with a crooked handle.

Other easily locatable stars in the northern sky include the W-shaped Cassiopeia, which is located on the other side of the North Star from the Big Dipper, and the Summer Triangle. The Summer Triangle isn’t actually a constellation, but its trio of stars are usually among the most visible at sunset and are just as easy to spot as the Big and Little Dipper. The Milky Way is up in early morning hours during spring, or in evening hours from mid-summer to early fall.

Go Astronomy is an excellent on-line resource.

Best Viewing Spots
Guest staying at one of Moving Mountains vacation rental homes are lucky enough to be in communities that all have initiatives to adopt Dark Sky-compliant lighting standards, which means the light pollution is minimized. So you can stand on the deck, or even be soaking in a hot tub and point out the constellations. In some cases, the houses are perched so high on a hillside and with such large window, you can lay in bed and feel like you could reach out and touch the stars! In fact, some of our homes are named after constellations: Chalet Ursa and Sirius Ridge.

Here are some of our homes with the best viewing decks, hot tubs bedrooms, and some with telescopes!

6 Bedrooms | 16 Guests

5 Bedrooms | 10 Guests

8 Bedrooms | 20 Guests

5 Bedrooms | 14 Guests

4 Bedrooms | 10 Guests

4 Bedrooms | 10 Guests



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