Stargazing in California has become more popular than ever before. But, finding the best places to stargaze in California, you must consider a variety of factors.
Both Southern California and Northern California got some best spots to stargaze.
Stargazing in California is special because of California’s balanced weather. You can even enjoy your journey of stargazing in the bay area.
Finding the best places to stargaze in California is easy compared to other states in the US because the state of California has mountains, high viewpoints and panoramic viewpoints and more.
Here, I’m going to give and also show you the best places to stargaze in California. You are also going to find some tips and tools to maximize your stargazing experience.
How I Choose The Best Places To Stargaze In California
Not every visiting place or mountain is applicable for stargazing; therefore, you need to visit the stargaze spot by considering various matters.
- Distance From City: City is always full of lights, so I select the place that is away from city lights for a better experience.
- Night Time Safety: Safety is always first; that’s why all of the listed stargazing spots have high nighttime safety.
- Best Sky View: I also ensure every stargaze place has a better sky view.
Stargazing In California
Yosemite National Park, Alabama Hills, Palomar Mountain, Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Big Sur, and the Salton Sea are California’s best places to stargaze.
Here are some best places to stargaze in California:
- Pigeon Point Lighthouse
- Yosemite National Park
- Palomar Mountain
- Mount Diablo State Park
- Alabama Hills
- Point Reyes National Seashore
- Big Sur
- Mojave National Preserve
- Joshua Tree National Park
- Lake Tahoe
- Salton Sea
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Marin Headlands
- Kelso Dunes
- Borrego Springs
1. Pigeon Point Lighthouse
Pigeon Point Lighthouse, also known as Pigeon Point Light Station, is located on the Pacific Coast of California.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is 50 miles south of San Francisco on a cliff on the central California Coast.
Among vanity places to stargaze in California, Pigeon Point Lighthouse is among the best and most popular in Northern California.
Via California 1 highway, you can go to Pigeon Point Lighthouse easily from the city of San Francisco.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse is also a historical palace that was built in 1871 and is still in active use by the United States Coast Guard for navigation.
The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) listed Pigeon Point Lighthouse as a historic place in the state of California.
Address: Pigeon Point Rd, Pescadero, California 94060, United States
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2. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is already the most famous attraction in California for its waterfall.
At Yosemite National Park’s dark sky, your stargazing experience is going to be indelible for the rest of your life.
Yosemite National Park is the most popular place to stargaze in Northern California; you should go at least once to stargaze.
Tuolumne Meadows and Wawona are great places to stargaze in the Yosemite National Park area.
Considering the nighttime safety and various spots for stargazing in the area, I highly recommend you to stargaze at Yosemite National Park.
Every year Yosemite National Park hosts over three million visitors every year. The total area of Yosemite National Park is 759,620 acres.
Bring your family and friends to see more than just stargazing in the Yosemite National Park area.
Yosemite National Park Entrance Fees:
- Individual (7 days) – $15
- Motorcycle (7 days) – $30
- Automobile (7 days) – $35
- Senior Pass (62 or older for lifetime) – $80
Address: Yosemite National Park, California, United States
3. Palomar Mountain
Palomar Mountain has several spots for stargazing around the mountain area.
Especially for Palomar Observatory and Hale Telescope, Palomar Mountain is famous for stargazing in California. Palomar Mountain is near Northern San Diego County.
You are going to find Palomar Observatory and Hale Telescope in the Palomar Mountain range.
Hale Telescope features the world’s largest 200-inch telescope that is still in use.
On the other hand, Palomar Observatory also has three large telescopes, which are also open for visitors.
Palomar Mountain range is the highest peak in San Diego County at an elevation of 6,140 feet (1,871 m).
My personal experience is that Palomar Mountain is the best place to stargaze in California.
Some areas of Palomar Mountain stay too dark at night, so do not forget to bring lights and other stargazing components.
Address: Palomar Mountain, California, United States
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4. Mount Diablo State Park
Mount Diablo State Park is famous for bay area stargazing. Mount Diablo State Park is located in the East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area).
Mount Diablo State Park is already an instagrammable place in California. Beginner to professional photographer comes to capture the sunset from the bay area.
The 20,000-acre land of Mount Diablo State Park is full of amenities and activities for all ages.
One observatory is available at Mount Diablo State Park. Hike lovers are also going to love Mount Diablo State Park’s tails.
Camping and picnic areas are also full of people, especially in the summertime.
With experiencing the best stargazing, bring your family to have a great weekend at Mount Diablo State Park.
Mount Diablo State Park stays open seven days a week from 8 a.m to 7 p.m.
The restrooms and parking area are in the Mount Diablo State Park visitor center.
Mount Diablo State Park allows dogs only on the park’s developed area, not on trails or park buildings.
Mount Diablo State Park Admission:
- Per Vehicle – $6
- 8 Passenger Vehicle – $10
Address: Summit Rd, Walnut Creek, California 94598, United States
5. Alabama Hills
Alabama Hills is another best place to stargaze in Southern California. Alabama Hills is the place where several of California’s popular places are nearby.
To stargaze without light pollution, you must choose Alabama Hills because this place is far from the city.
Alabama Hills are located in south-central California between Sequoia National Park to the west and Death Valley National Park to the east.
For rugged rock formations, the areas of Alabama Hills are extraordinary and one of the major attractions of California.
With stargazing at night, Alabama Hills are also a popular camping destination in Southern California.
The elevation of Alabama Hills is over 1,632 m, so your stargazing experience at Alabama Hill becomes the best.
Alabama Hills also has the most iconic move road where some award-winning moves are shot.
Address: Alabama Hills, California, United States
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6. Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore is a national park near the city of San Francisco, California.
Point Reyes National Seashore’s astonishing beach view at sunset is going to fascinate you.
Stargazing at Point Reyes National Seashore at night gives you a satisfying experience.
Point Reyes National Seashore is the best place to stargaze in Northern California and the Bay Area.
Point Reyes National Seashore is also a perfect family destination in California.
Countless amenities and activities are available in Point Reyes National Seashore.
You are going to find campgrounds, beach areas, hiking trails, whale watching, waterfall, and more at the Point Reyes National Seashore area.
Coast Miwok at Point Reyes area features Miwok Cultures, heritage and crafts that you are going to love to learn.
So, experience all of the activities during daylight and at night stargaze at the Point Reyes National Seashore area.
Address: Point Reyes Station, California 94956, United States
7. Big Sur
Big Sur is already a wildly popular place in California for day trips and weekend gateway.
Big Sur is a rugged stretch of California’s central coast between Carmel and San Simeon.
For several reasons, Big Sur is famous for its beaches, hiking, views, redwood forests and more.
Along the way to Big Sur from the city area through Highway One, you are also going to find server spots for stargazing.
Select the spot for stargazing that you most want to. Stargazing at Big Sur becomes better than any other place because there is no light pollution.
Salmon Creek Trail, Pacific Valley Bluff Trail and Ragged Point Cliffside Trail are the best hikes in Big Sur, so don’t miss them also.
Cone Peak in Big Sur is the second highest mountain in the Santa Lucia Range in the Ventana Wilderness of the Los Padres National Forest, which I also recommend you to visit while you are in Big Sur.
When we went to Big Sur to stargazing, fog blocked the stars for a short period of time, but it went away after some time.
Pack some dry foods, water, clothes, and portable chairs for stargazing at Big Sur.
Address: Highway One, Big Sur, California, United States
8. Mojave National Preserve
Mojave National Preserve is located in the Mojave Desert in Southern California.
Mojave Desert has several stargazing places around the desert area. But, Mojave National Preserve area is the best spot for stargazing.
Mojave National Preserve area offers a variety of amenities for visitors, such as horseback riding, hiking, camping, biking, and a 4-wheeler drive trail.
For camping, Mojave National Preserve is well known all around the state of California.
The whole area of Mojave National Preserve is woodland and rugged mountains, so this place gives you a new experience.
Mojave National Preserve also offers hunting opportunities for visitors. This area stays open 24 hours and seven days a week.
All types of outdoor activities are available at Mojave National Preserve, so take new experiences here.
I am going to suggest you go to Mojave National Preserve for a day trip or weekend getaway with family or friends.
Mojave National Preserve area is safe at night, so get ready for stargazing in the dark sky.
Address: 90942 Kelso Cima Rd, Essex, California 92332, United States
9. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is another Californian’s best attraction. This place also lets me see everything with fascinating stargazing.
Joshua Tree National Park is located where two deserts meet, the Mojave and the Colorado desert.
This park is famous for not only stargazing but also for outdoor activities, hiking, culture, camping, and rock climbing.
Joshua Tree National Park has a Night Sky Festival where you can join other sky lovers for stargazing.
You must take expera safety measures for desert and wildlife areas before going to Joshua Tree National Park.
Wear desert boots, sunglasses, and a full sleeve t-shirt, and bring water and more when you go stargazing at Joshua Tree National Park.
In case of emergency, you need to connect with the Indian Cove Ranger station or Cottonwood visitor Center by calling 911 or 909-383-5651.
Joshua Tree National Park has an entrance fee, and everyone must pay for admission and check-in.
Joshua Tree National Park Pass Fees:
- Children ages 15 or under: Free
- Lifetime Senior Pass: $80
- Annual Pass: $80
- Weekly Pass: $30
- Annual Senior Pass: $20
- Annual Military Pass: Free
On Martin Luther King, Veterans Day, Great American Outdoors Act Signing Day, National Public Lands Day, and the First day of National Park Week, entrance is totally free at Joshua Tree National Park.
Address: Joshua Tree National Park, California, United States
10. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is a lake of 99.994% pure water that is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Stargazing at Lake Tahoe will be your life experience because Lake Tahoe has several spots to stargaze in the dark sky.
The total area of Lake Tahoe is more than 496 km, which is a bigger space than any other stargazing place in California.
You are also going to find many stargazing tours, guides and events in the Lake Tahoe area.
Spooner Lake, Hope Valley, and Camp Richardson are the best spots in Lake Tahoe to stargazing.
Every stargazing spot in Lake Tahoe is far from light pollution, and Summer is the best time to stargaze in Lake Tahoe.
I recommend Spooner Lake spot for stargazing because this spot is higher and clean to the sky, which helps you to get a better stargazing experience at Lake Tahoe.
Enjoy Lake Tahoe hiking, cycling, and nature walks all day long and then find the right spot to stargazing at night.
Address: Lake Tahoe, California, United States
11. Salton Sea
Salton Sea is a popular body of water in California and also worldwide. The Salton Sea is a place where you should go at least once.
Now, the Salton Sea is a famous destination for stargazing in the dark sky.
From the Salton Sea beach area, you can enjoy stargazing. Some of the famous California beaches are located in the Salton Sea area.
Bombay Beach, Desert Beach, Desert Shores, Salton City, and Salton Sea Beach are situated in the Salton Sea area where you can camp to stargazing at night.
It’s better to know that the Salton Sea is toxic, so swimming is not going to be safe for you.
Near the Salton Sea, you will also visit The International Banana Museum, Salton Sea State Park and Visitor Center, Salvation Mountain and more of California’s attractions.
Address: Salton Sea, California, United States
12. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Stargazing in the desert has a different vibe which you can experience by stargazing in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is where you should bring your kids to see the Galleta Meadows statue.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is one of the largest state park in California. The whole area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is 585,930 acres.
If you want to search for the best place to stargaze in Southern California, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the best option for you.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park offers several spots for stargazing in different ambiences.
I highly recommend Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for stargazing in California because this place has no light pollution, which you are going to need.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has become the best tourist place because of its majestic views, natural wonders, Galleta Meadows statue and spring wildflowers.
Address: 200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, United States
13. Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is the place where you are able to find the best dark sky stargazing in California.
Death Valley National Park is famous for its driest and hottest temperature, where 130 degrees Fahrenheit heat is normal.
You can stargaze in Death Valley National Park without light pollution because mountains surround the whole place.
In winter, Death Valley National Park features a completely different environment for stargazing.
Every year, various stargazing parties are hosted in Death Valley National Park, where you can also join.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin and Harmony Borax Work are the best spots to stargaze in Death Valley National Park.
I stargazed from several spots in Death Valley National Park, but my favorite spot is Harmony Borax Work.
You don’t need to worry too much about heat because the heat goes down at night. But, I highly recommend you bring sufficient water to Death Valley National Park for stargazing.
Address: Death Valley National Park, California, United States
14. Marin Headlands
Marin Headlands is a hilly peninsula that we see from Golden Gate Bridge, and I am sure you have also seen Marin Headlands several times.
Marin Headlands area is located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, where you can find more than only see the sky.
The most spectacular stargazing spot in Marin headlands is Point Bonita Lighthouse. Therefore, I recommend this place to see the sky at night.
Over the years, Stargazing in the bay area has become popular among sky lovers. Marin Headlands is the stargazing place in the bay area.
Also, do not miss the sunset view from Marin Headlands because it is one of the best places to watch the sunset in California.
Going to Marin Headlands is very easy for people who live in San Francisco, California.
Muir Woods National Monument is near Marin Headlands, so you can also visit that place.
Address: Mill Valley, California 94941, United States
15. Kelso Dunes
Kelso Dunes is the largest field of aeolian sand deposits in the Mojave Desert. Kelso Dunes is also known as Kelso Dune Field.
Among several stargazing spots in the Mojave Desert, Kelso Dunes is the best by considering all of the factors.
Kelso Dunes also features almost 3 miles of soft sand trail where you can spend the evening.
This place is safe at night, so bringing your family and friends for stargazing would be a lovely idea.
You need to keep in mind the temperature of Kelso Dunes because this place is in the desert.
In the Mojave National Preserve visitor center, you can see Kelso Dunes’s map and some information about stays.
Address: Mojave Desert, California, United States
Mendocino is another best place to stargaze in Northern California. Mendocino is a coastal community.
Mendocino is the best spot in California to see the stars in the dark sky. Stargazing from the Mendocino coastline gives you a unique experience.
Around Mendocino coastline, you are going to find other amenities to enjoy more of the day.
Mendocino coast has several beaches and sea animal watching opportunities.
As a family getaway or destination Mendocino would be great also because there are many things and activities to explore.
During stargazing at Mendocino, the lighting pollution you might experience is why avoiding holiday would be a better idea than stargazing.
Address: Mendocino, California, United States
17. Borrego Springs
Borrego Springs is a Census-designated place that is surrounded by the largest California State Park, Anza-Borrego State Park.
In recent years, Borrego Springs has become a popular dessert hotspot in California.
The total area of Borrego Springs is 112 km, and now over 1,864 people live there.
I recommend Borrego Springs to stargaze if you are looking for stargazing spots in Southern California.
Borrego Springs is one of the few designated International Dark Sky Communities in the world.
Borrego Springs features many amenities like hiking trails, golf courses, biking, and more other than only stargazing.
You can schedule both Borrego Springs and Anza-Borrego State Park on your travel itinerary.
Address: Borrego Springs, California, United States
Conclusion – Stargazing In California
Stargazing in California is really special, especially for those who live in California, because you have several stargazing spots near the cities.
I shared both Northern and Southern California’s best stargazing places here with addresses so that you won’t need to find those places anywhere.
In California, you are also going to find a variety of lighthouses where you might have the greatest stargazing experience ever.
If you ask me what my favorite stargazing place is in California is Yosemite National Park because this place offers more than only wonderful stargazing in the dark sky.
But, I also stargazed all of those places that I shared here. Northern California has more of the best stargazing places than Southern California.
Mount Diablo State Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Marin Headlands are the best place for bay area stargazing.
Vanessa Martin is the founder and content head of California Moments. Vanessa has been living in San Diego, California, since her childhood. Vanessa brings everything about the Golden States California and shares it with you through Californiamoments.com.