Discover the ultimate American Roadtrip

The <strong>Stargazing States</strong>

The Stargazing States

Wyoming - Nebraska

Space may be the final frontier but there are plenty of places here on Earth where you can be dazzled by views of the stars. Observatories in the US are opening their doors to the public, not to mention the expansive national parks where the lack of light pollution delivers stunning visibility of the night sky. We’ve put together a route of the best places in Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska where you can gaze at the galaxy’s greatest wonders.

The Stargazing States

Stop 1: Casper Planetarium 1/14

Casper Planetarium

Kick off your trip in Wyoming with some suitably spacefaring inspiration at the Casper Planetarium. Here you’ll find a range of displays dedicated to our neighbours in the solar system, as well as the processes involved in the magnificent birth of a star. Don’t miss out on the chance to look to the heavens through the powerful telescope during the evening tours, where you can also learn how to identify the constellations.

904 N Poplar St, Casper, WY 82601

http://www.casperplanetarium.com

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The Stargazing States

Stop 2: Fort Caspar Museum 2/14

Fort Caspar Museum

Before reaching for the stars, get a sense of the area’s history at this former military post, which offers a real feel for what it must have been like to live in Wyoming in the mid-19th century. Restored to its former glory, the wooden huts and houses make for a fascinating education on the history of the region, its indigenous people and the frontiersmen who strove to stake their claim to new lands.

4001 Fort Caspar Rd, Casper, WY 82604

http://www.fortcasparwyoming.com/

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The Stargazing States

Stop 3: National Historic Trails Interpretive Center 3/14

National Historic Trails Interpretive Center

More tales of the Wild Frontier await at the National Historical Trails Interpretive Center in Wyoming. Learn about the settlers and soldiers who made their way across unexplored territory, becoming folk heroes in the process. Interactive exhibits tell tales of bravery and discovery, while the building overlooks many of the trails so you can try them yourself. The centre also hosts talks by historical experts and workshops alongside Native American youngsters to create stunning original pieces of jewellery.

1501 N Poplar St, Casper, WY 82601

http://nhtcf.org/

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The Stargazing States

Stop 4: Medicine Bow National Forest 4/14

Medicine Bow National Forest

Such is the size and ecological diversity within the National Forest that in a matter of hours you could go from snowy peaks to shortgrass prairies along the very same handful of trails. Everywhere you go within the forest brings something new and exciting to explore – and don’t worry, there are a whole host of spots to set up camp, lie back and admire the dotted night’s sky in peace. It’s the perfect place to start reconnecting with nature.

Laramie, WY 82070

https://www.fs.usda.gov/mbr

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The Stargazing States

Stop 5: White Mountain Mall, Rock Springs 5/14

White Mountain Mall, Rock Springs

Retail therapy awaits as you drive along Interstate 80 in the form of the three dozen shops and eateries which make up the White Mountain Mall. With stores including JCPenney and the popular Sapporo restaurant opening its doors to a world of Japanese cuisine, you’ll feel right at home taking a break from admiring the States’ natural beauty. Hit the sales, enjoy great food and take the opportunity to unwind with a blockbuster in one of the region’s biggest cinemas.

2441 Foothill Blvd, Rock Springs, WY 82901

http://www.whitemountainmall.com/

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The Stargazing States

Stop 6: Yellowstone National Park 6/14

Yellowstone National Park

Not only is Yellowstone one of the United States’ very best spots for stargazing, there’s also a whole host of natural features worth exploring amid its 3,500 square miles of wonder. Within fascinating petrified forests and sweeping canyon views, you’ll have no trouble picking out a scenic spot to set up camp and enjoy the views of the heavens above. Take time to seek out the park’s natural wonders including the Caldera – the epicentre of the entire country's volcanic activity.

Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168

https://www.nps.gov/yell/index.htm

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The Stargazing States

Stop 7: Big Horn Medicine Wheel 7/14

Big Horn Medicine Wheel

Wyoming’s Medicine Mountain is one of the state’s most imposing natural landmarks, but at its summit lies an artefact dating all the way back to the Native American settlers. An 80-foot formation of stones is arranged into a wheel with spokes running from the outer circle to the smaller one – known as the cairn – at its centre. Using this so-called ‘medicine wheel’ they were able to pinpoint the sun’s location, predict the Summer Solstice and plan harvests accordingly.

Lovell, WY 82431

http://wyoshpo.state.wy.us/NationalRegister/Site.aspx?ID=60

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The Stargazing States

Stop 8: Devils Tower National Monument 8/14

Devils Tower National Monument

This mystical rock formation is possibly best known for its appearance in sci-fi classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind, but even non-film buffs can’t fail to be astonished by an encounter with this Wyoming wonder. Devils Tower rises more than 1,000 feet above the Belle Fourche River, and is formed from igneous rock thought to have first emerged from the earth 40 million years ago. If you’re brave enough, the views from the top are out of this world.

Wyoming 82714

https://www.nps.gov/deto/index.htm

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The Stargazing States

Stop 9: Mount Rushmore National Memorial 9/14

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

One of America’s most distinctive landmarks features the granite-jawed visages of Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, forever carved into the cliffs of Mount Rushmore. This ambitious project first began in 1927, with hundreds of workers drilling and dynamiting through tonnes of South Dakota granite to achieve this iconic work. The original, abandoned plan was to portray each President from head to waist, but all the same Mount Rushmore has endured as one of the States’ defining symbols.

13000 SD-244, Keystone, SD 57751

https://www.nps.gov/moru/index.htm

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The Stargazing States

Stop 10: Carhenge 10/14

Carhenge

Three miles north of Alliance, Nebraska you’ll find a bizarre tribute to an iconic British landmark. A circle of cars has been laid here in a similar formation to the foreboding Salisbury stones; some stand on their rear ends while others are laid across on top. Whether an audacious art project or some mysterious ode to consumerism, this unique construction is well worth a look – particularly on a clear night to add some stargazing to the spiritual mix.

NE-87, Alliance, NE 69301

http://carhenge.com/

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The Stargazing States

Stop 11: Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area 11/14

Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area

The welcoming waters of Lake McConaughy await as you head further into scenic Nebraska. Take a boat out onto the lake and enjoy some exploration, or break out the fishing tackle and try to catch a hearty meal. Along with the campgrounds there’s a wide selection of B&Bs and hotels across town, as well as plenty to do. Check out Ogallala’s Petrified Wood Gallery, complete with ancient woods and fossils as well as Native American arrowheads and artefacts.

Nebraska 61, Ogallala, NE

https://ilovelakemac.com/

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The Stargazing States

Stop 12: Golden Spike Tower 12/14

Golden Spike Tower

North Platte is home to the world’s largest train yard, going back to its days as the hub of the Transcontinental railroad. Still handling some 10,000 trains a day, visitors to Golden Spike Tower can experience the sights and sounds of the rail yard from an open-air viewing gallery, or take a seat for talks from retired Union Pacific workers. Then, take a trip away from the city and explore the stunning scenery around the North Platte River.

1249 N Homestead Rd, North Platte, NE 69101

http://goldenspiketower.com/

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The Stargazing States

Stop 13: Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum 13/14

Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum

One of the United States’ key installations during the days of the Cold War, this facility has been preserved to tell its story through a variety of exhibits and attractions. As well as a huge collection of historic military aircraft and missiles, the museum features spacecraft from the Apollo test flights and a cockpit that trained astronauts for missions on Space Shuttle Atlantis. There’s also an interactive exhibition that will immerse you in the modern day search for black holes.

28210 W Park Hwy, Ashland, NE 68003

http://sacmuseum.org/

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The Stargazing States

Stop 14: Hyde Observatory 14/14

Hyde Observatory

End your journey through the stars by gazing into deep space at the Hyde Observatory. If you think you’ve seen it all, think again. With a trio of powerful telescopes offering views of comets, meteors and planets as far away as Saturn, who knows what spectacular cosmic delights will pass before your eyes? The observatory also boasts a revolving range of programmes and events covering everything from the Juno probe orbiting Jupiter to the mythology and science behind star patterns.

3701 S. 70th, Holmes Lake Park, Lincoln, NE 68502

http://www.hydeobservatory.info/

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