Imagine RVing under Wyoming’s vast skies, where stars shine like spilled glitter across the canvas of the night. We’re all about that experience, and as hardcore astrotourists, we know the magic and practicality of stargazing in Wyoming’s dark skies at RWT Adventures.
Understanding Light Pollution in Wyoming
Light pollution, the glow that outshines our celestial friends, is the bane of our hobby. It’s why we seek out those remote, dark spots where the Milky Way is not just a myth but a breathtaking reality.
Let’s give you a quick rundown on the Bortle scale—it’s what we use to measure the darkness of our skies. Think of it as a darkness meter. Our stargazing map gives you the full scoop.
Wyoming, with its wide-open spaces and low population density, fares pretty well on the Bortle scale. It’s got plenty of areas; some that are so dark, you could almost touch the stars.
Wyoming Light Pollution Map
Check out our Wyoming light pollution map here or head over to our more detailed light pollution map if you are looking for more specific locations.
Dark Sky Areas: Low on the Bortle Scale
Wyoming is loaded with dark sky spots perfect for astrotourists that love the outdoors!
Venture towards the Bighorn National Forest, where the sky’s darkness unveils the cosmic spectacle above. Here, we find solitude and stars in abundance, making it a treasure for any astrotourist’s bucket list.
Down south, the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest whispers tales of ancient light in serene, star-filled nights. The Snowy Range offers skies so dark, constellations not only appear, but they practically tell their own stories.
The east may glow with a bit more human activity, but pockets like the Thunder Basin National Grassland still offer a celestial escape. We recommend these quieter spots for a night of cosmic wonder, away from the city’s buzz.
Out west, the dark skies reign supreme near the borders of Grand Teton National Park. It’s where we set up our scopes and let the universe do the talking, with night skies that are truly awe-inspiring.
In the heart of the state, we find Casper Mountain—a sanctuary where the night sky is as rich and deep as the mountain’s history. Just a stone’s throw from the city of Casper, this area serves as a convenient escape to darkness for both locals and visitors alike.
The Brightest Nights: Light Pollution Hotspots
It’s not all perfect stargazing in Wyoming. There are a few areas you might want to avoid for the best dark sky experiences.
Gillette’s energy production lights up the northern sky, setting a challenging stage for stargazers. It’s a reminder of the balance we seek between our need for light and our love for the dark.
Cheyenne’s urban sprawl brings a glow to the southern sky, overshadowing the fainter stars. Yet, it serves as a hub for us to gather our gear and supplies before we seek the dark retreats.
Torrington and the eastern border towns cast a light that might dim the stars but never our spirit. We pass through, eyes set on the darker destinations where the Milky Way awaits.
Jackson’s lively town lights up the western night, a testament to its bustling community. While we enjoy the vibe, we also yearn for the nearby pockets of darkness where the sky tells an ancient story.
The city of Casper, central to Wyoming’s hustle and bustle, casts a luminous dome that dims the stars overhead. Yet, it’s this very glow that makes the surrounding darkness of the mountain’s quiet corners all the more precious to us night sky chasers.
Geographical Influence on Stargazing in Wyoming
Wyoming’s diverse topography significantly influences stargazing conditions and opportunities.
Stretching across Wyoming’s east, the Great Plains offer expansive skies, ideal for wide-angle astrophotography. The low-lying hills and minimal light pollution here create optimal conditions for tracking constellations and meteor showers.
The Rocky Mountains, including the Northern, Middle, and Southern ranges, provide higher elevations for clearer views of the cosmos. However, their rugged terrain and varying weather conditions can pose accessibility challenges for stargazers.
Alison and I try to either head here or the Colorado Rockies every year for some summer stargazing.
Nestled among the mountain ranges, the Wyoming Basin offers dark skies protected from urban light pollution. This region’s unique topography makes it a prime spot for observing deep-sky objects.
The Bighorn and Powder River basins, with their open landscapes, serve as gateways to the stars. These areas are particularly suited for observing celestial events in a serene, unobstructed environment.
Each of these regions contributes to plenty of great stargazing experiences in Wyoming, offering a range of backdrops for night sky exploration.
Stargazing Tips and Gear
These are just a few quick tips and gear you will want to keep in mind when going on a Wyoming dark sky adventure.
Telescope and Binoculars
For stargazing in Wyoming, a reliable telescope or binoculars are indispensable for appreciating the night sky’s finer details. Their magnification capabilities bring distant stars and celestial bodies into clearer view.
Tripod and Red Flashlight
A sturdy tripod is essential for stabilizing your telescope or camera, especially on uneven terrains. A red flashlight is also crucial; it helps in navigating the dark without disrupting your night vision.
Clothing and Navigation
Given Wyoming’s varied climate, dressing in warm, layered clothing is recommended to stay comfortable during nighttime observations. Additionally, carrying a GPS device or a reliable map is vital for safely exploring remote stargazing locations.
Conservation and Dark-Sky Advocacy in Wyoming
First Dark Sky Park
Sinks Canyon State Park’s designation as Wyoming’s first International Dark Sky Park highlights the state’s commitment to preserving dark skies. The park’s unique geographical features provide an ideal setting for unobstructed night sky observation, attracting both astrotourists and wildlife enthusiasts.
Wyoming Stargazing Initiatives
Organizations like Wyoming Stargazing advocate for responsible lighting to reduce light pollution. Their efforts, such as promoting the use of shielded lighting, aim to enhance visibility of the night sky while also conserving energy and protecting wildlife habitats.
Community Engagement and Impact
The dark sky preservation efforts in Wyoming extend beyond individual locations like Sinks Canyon, involving multiple communities across the state. Towns and cities near dark sky areas, such as Lander and Jackson, are increasingly recognizing the value of preserving night skies. These communities are adopting lighting regulations and promoting educational programs, which not only enhance stargazing opportunities but also support local economies through astrotourism. This collective action across various Wyoming communities demonstrates a growing statewide commitment to protecting the natural night environment.
Wrapping It Up
Wyoming, with its pristine night skies and diverse landscapes, stands as a premier destination for astrotourism. The state’s efforts in maintaining dark skies offer both residents and visitors an opportunity to connect with the wonders of the universe. It’s a must-visit destination for astrotourists around the world and one of our favorites.
About the Authors
We are avid stargazers Jason and Alison Takacs also known as Roadtrippin’ with Takacs. With our two boys Preston and Grayson, we seek out some of the darkest skies in the country while also going on many incredible hiking and other outdoor adventures. As part-time RVers, we try to see as much of this amazing world as possible in our spare time and hope you will join us through this blog on RWT Adventures and other forms of social media as we explore the night sky and other natural wonders as hardcore astrotourists.