Our dogs might spend a lot of time with their noses to the ground, but they also love to howl at the moon and stars. Venture into the darkest areas of the country and huddle up with your pup for uninterrupted views of the solar system at these pet-friendly stargazing destinations.
Posted by Billy Francis
Under Canvas Yellowstone
Dreaming of sleeping under the stars with Fido? Camping is a great way to immerse yourself in nature and breathe some fresh air. But if you really want to take the stress away, plan a dog-friendly ‘glamping’ getaway to West Yellowstone. Featured in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States, Under Canvas Yellowstone takes camping to another level by doing all of the prep work for you and elevating the experience for hounds who still require creature comforts in the great outdoors. The safari-inspired glampsite offers uninterrupted views of the picturesque Montana landscape and convenient access to Yellowstone National Park’s West Entrance, which is just a 10-minute drive away.
Located on a beautiful ranch just outside of Yellowstone National Park, Under Canvas Yellowstone offers the comforts of home for humans and canines alike. Sleep in luxury tents outfitted with cozy beds, plush linens, private bathrooms and wood-burning stoves. Book a Stargazer tent, which features a unique overhead window for viewing the night sky from your bed.
Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve
Cedar Key is an island city in the Gulf of Mexico that affords visitors a less-polluted view of the night sky. Stargazers have the chance to enjoy views of epic constellations like Fido’s favorite, Canis Major (“Greater Dog”), from Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve. Known for offering some of the darkest skies in the Sunshine State, the reserve is a great place to witness the magnificent nightly display. Before sunset, explore the winding pet-friendly trails for a glimpse of native residents like gopher tortoises and bald eagles in their natural habitat, before finding a twinkling view through the towering pines.
Dock at this dog-friendly waterfront duplex in Cedar Key. Paddle out at night together for a private show from above.
Haleakala National Park
The best stargazing destinations require a combination of high elevation, limited light pollution, good weather year-round and star visibility, which is why Hawaii is so popular among constellation lovers. Dogs are not allowed at Mauna Kea, the most renowned stargazing spot and the highest peak on the island of Hawaii, but the Kalahaku Overlook at Haleakala National Park in Maui is the next best thing. Head to the 9,000-foot overlook at sunset, where you can enjoy the incredible sight of the sun going down over clouds beneath your feet before the stars come out to play above.
Drive back to Hana Inn and enjoy more views over the Pacific from the private black pebble beach.
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park features the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. These tall, thin spires of red rock offer an incredible contrast to the many colors of the Milky Way on a clear night. Take the paved trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point to enjoy an epic view of the otherworldly landscape and the curtain of stars above.
Best Western Plus Ruby’s Inn has a grassy area for dogs to walk around before you head off together into the night.
Denali National Park & Preserve
When darkness falls at Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska it tends to stick around, which gives plenty of time for the stars to come out and twinkle. Fall, winter and early spring are best for nighttime views, as summer days can last more than 20 hours. Dogs aren’t allowed on trails within the park, but this won’t stop your astronomical Alsatian from enjoying the views at pullovers along the Denali Park Road. If you arrive at the park during daylight hours, you can experience magnificent views of North America’s highest peak, the 20,320-foot Mount McKinley.
Share a rustic cabin experience near the park, and join Fido for bathroom breaks outside in the adjacent Alaskan Outhouse.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park is arguably the most pet-friendly national park in the country. Located on Maine’s rugged coastline, it also boasts a brilliantly bright night sky for stargazing Spaniels to enjoy. One of the most secluded spots is also the only part of the park found on the mainland, the Schoodic Peninsula. Take a hike on a 7.5-mile network of trails from Winter Harbor in the north to Blueberry Hill, and rest on the rocks that overlook the Atlantic Ocean for a celestial viewing. If you’re looking for an activity to pass the time before nightfall, join Acadian Nature Cruises in Bar Harbor for a sail around the waters that surround the peninsula.
Schoodic Woods Campground is the best place to pitch up if you’re planning on heading to Schoodic Peninsula to enjoy the show.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Dogs who love to drive by your side will enjoy a late-night visit to Rocky Mountain National Park. Pets are not permitted on trails within the park, but are allowed anywhere cars can go. Trail Ridge Road is known as a highway to the sky and one ride along it will show you why. Spanning 48 miles between Estes Park and Grand Lake, the road is surrounded by the epic mountain range on every side. You are welcome to stop in any of the pullovers and car parks along the way to enjoy snow-peaked mountains touching the starry night sky. Don’t forget to fuel up with your pup first at Rock Inn Mountain Tavern, a historic Estes Park eatery.
Starstruck pups can rest up at Discovery Lodge. This popular hotel has a dog park on the premises and walking trails.
Headlands Dark Sky Park
After a day trip to Mackinac Island, head to Headlands International Dark Sky Park, the ninth place to earn Dark Sky status in the world. If you’re lucky, you may even be treated to an amazing Northern Lights display. Dogs are allowed on the 5 miles of trails in the park as long as they are leashed.
Camping is not permitted at Headlands, but Pure Bliss Campsite gives you the chance to sleep under the stars nearby.
Grand Canyon National Park
Witness the stars dancing over one of the seven wonders of the world at Grand Canyon National Park. People planning a Grand Canyon adventure with their dog should add a late-night viewing to the schedule. Leashed dogs are only welcome on trails above the rim, but fortunately this is where the best stargazing opportunities can be found. Hike together on the 12-mile paved Rim Trail and stop off at viewing points like Mather Point and Yavapai along the way.
Settle in for the night at Yavapai Lodge, seconds from the trail and epic starry spectacles.
Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve
Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve, the first such destination to receive gold-tier status in the United States, is one of the best places on the planet to watch the stars with your pooch. Encompassing the towns of Sun Valley, Ketchum and Stanley, the Reserve’s location in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho means there is little to no light pollution. Try to catch a falling star and put it in Fido’s pocket on the Toxaway to Alice Lake Loop in Stanley, or from Adam's Gulch Trail in Ketchum.
Fido’s always in the limelight in your eyes, so treat him to a stay at the Limelight Hotel Ketchum. Canine guests receive a welcome kit that includes a Frisbee, bandana and treats.
Ready for a Road Trip?
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