Best Stargazing in NorCal? Find Spectacular Nighttime Views in the Lava Beds National Monument

Milky Way as seen from the Lava Beds National Monument. Photo by the National Park Service.

Sitting in the the tippy-top of Northern California in Siskiyou County is one of the most beautiful, historical parks in all of California. Combining geology with history and just good ol’ fashioned outdoor beauty, this rugged terrain is one of NorCal’s most fascinating and underrated outdoor destinations.

With the park being so rural in the upper portion of NorCal, it rarely sees any man-made light, making it one of the best places on the west coast for stargazing. The park’s clean, dry air miles-and-miles away from urban pollution has to be seen to believe. In fact, the park is known as a dark-sky preserve, which means the area naturally restricts artificial light pollution.

There are a few ways to get a glimpse of the starry night above Lava Beds National Monument. The first is the obvious nighttime hike, which there are 13 trails in the park, all with some fantastic historic and geologic marvels to see along the way. Bring your headlamp, cameras and sense of wonder to the the beautiful starry night above. Here is a complete guide to all 13 hikes in the Lava Beds.

You can also go camping in the park, with the Indian Well Campground offering 43 campsites on a first-come-first-serve basis for a $10 fee. Sites can accommodate tents, pickup campers, small trailers and motor homes up to 30 feet. There is also free backcountry camping allowed throughout the park, with some restrictions. Here is a complete guide to camping in the Lava Beds.

Finally, you can see the stars in the park with the guidance of park rangers during the park’s annual Astronomy Day, which is held during the first weekend in August every year. During the event, you can enjoy telescopes and pick the brain of astronomers at the visitors center. You can also go on the ranger-led sunset hike up Schonchin Butte, which will watch the sun go down and the star rise beautifully into the sky. Learn more about the Annual Astronomy Day and Star Party Event

Of course, you can also match a beautiful night in Lava Beds with an equally fun day. Here are 5 Awesome Adventures in the Lava Beds National Monument.

See photos of the stars above Lava Beds National Monument:

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Lava Bed National Monument has oodles of lava tubes to explore. Lucky one lined up with the Milky Way. I only had to wait an hour to get it. The ironic part about this trip is that I spent a large chunk of the day under ground in the dark. Yet at night time when under ground and in the dark I was a little freaked out. ▫️ ▫️ ▫️ ▫️ ▫️ #globalcapture #global_hotshotz #instagood #mycapture #moodygrams #nightshooterz #nightscaper #nightphotography_exclusive #jaw_dropping_shots #earthpix #earth_deluxe #longexposure_shots #natgeotravel #nps #thegreatoutdoors #photography #photooftheday #mycapture #fotododia #sonyimages #wanderlust #westcoast_exposures #world_shotz #milkywaychasers #milkyway #main_vision #getoutside #lonelyplanet #longexpoelite

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Lava Beds National Monument

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Lava Beds National Monument

A post shared by David Cothran (@davidcothranphoto) on

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