Why Austin Icon/Ui/Phone Created with Sketch.
Back to Blog Index
Come… to the Dark Side
Travel Resources

Come… to the Dark Side

The Night Sky in Death Valley National Park, California

Sometimes in the darkness, you find the most brilliant views

We’ve lost our night vision.

Long ago, our ancient ancestors had to survive the long nights unaided and thus developed strong night vision. But our modern world has us surrounded by the luxuries of headlights, nightlights, street lights, track lights, flashlights, and just about every kind of lighting device you could ever think you’d need (including baseball caps with lights in their visors – for some reason). We even have night vision goggles, a technology that we’re starting to include in some of our cars too. With all of these wondrous devices at our immediate disposal, many of us have lost the basic ability to just go out into the dark and trust our eyes’ ability to actually see out there.

Austin Adventures has a solution to this problem, although it is… a little ‘dark’.

We propose that we get you back out in the night. While our ancestors had to tree themselves or find a cave to help ward off carnivores, we (generally) don’t have that problem on our trips.* Better still, there’s something truly brilliant to be seen out there – literally galaxies of stars.

Too many of us live in cities or big towns and we get used to the electric lights overhead blocking out all the gorgeous light that’s above it all in the night sky. Once we get you away from all that light pollution, the stars you can witness will literally have your jaw dropping.

One of our team, a veteran traveler, recounts the first time they were in a truly dark sky area, while camping in Namibia:

“I was stunned, speechless. There was the entirety of the Milky Way in full regalia hovering there above me – billions of stars creating this fabulous, fog-like cloud of light stretching up through the sky. And the closest stars were flashing and blinking in a way that I’ve never seen before. It took some time for our native guide to finally convince me that the lights weren’t the running lights of overhead aircraft. The stars were actually blinking in colors!”

So, we had a meeting and started listing our fabulous destinations, trying to find those that have the very best night sky viewing opportunities. Turns out that we have a few right here in the U.S. – some of which are actual International Dark Sky Parks (and one is a ‘Gold Tier’ Dark Sky Park – the highest level awarded).

We’ll get out at night and not ‘just’ to see stars – but to see the entire Milky Way!

Austin Adventures can help you realize your next great dark sky adventure.

After a great day of sun-lit adventures, we’ll wait for the backcountry darkness to envelop us. Then, we’ll turn off our lanterns and headlamps, and take in the show.

We’ll also put our 35 years of experience to the test to make it a total Austin Adventures’ ‘WOW’ moment for you. As you’re relaxing and enjoying the vastness of the gorgeous kaleidoscope before you, our guides will make it truly memorable by bringing out some hot chocolate and treats for you to enjoy as you pinpoint various constellations. (That is, if you can pinpoint constellations. Sometimes it takes a while to spot familiar ones in these environments, because when you’re away from the amount of light pollution that you’re used to at home you can be overwhelmed by the ‘zillions’ of other stars in the background.)

Our Suggestions:

Here are our recommendations for dark skies trips in the U.S.:
• California – Death Valley National Park
• Montana & Wyoming – Western Adventure
• Utah – Bryce Canyon & Zion National Parks

It’s worth noting too that while all three of these trips (and many of our international ones too) will provide you with a fantastic dark sky experience, Death Valley National Park is an actual, certified International Dark Sky Park. Further, it’s the largest Dark Sky National Park in the country and, because they have worked to reduce light pollution as much as possible, the park is designated as a “Gold Tier” Dark Sky Park – the highest level awarded.

Maybe you haven’t seen some of these bucket list destinations at all yet, or maybe you want to see them now as a way to experience our galaxy with the naked eye. Either way, we’re happy to chat further and confirm availability for you. As a small, family-owned company, we’re always happy to chat with our friends (particularly about travel)!

*Does not apply to our African itineraries, and a few in Asia too… or those in the Arctic… Or Alaska trips, for that matter… (We’re kidding – of course – because in places where the wildlife runs free at night, our trained and trusted guides will keep a lookout for you!)

Sign Up To Get Trip Information Straight To Your Inbox!