The US state of Nevada is famous for the glitz and glamour of Las Vegas, however, beyond the bling of the electric lights, the sparkle of the stars is something one should explore and when in the sin city.
A hub for gaming and gambling, parties and pools, the otherwise bustling Las Vegas has a calmer side to it that can be experienced in the quiets of the night and far from the glitz of the strip. Popular for its ever glittering and glamorous skyline, the sin city also reflects the sheen of the milky-way with a rich cover of stars whose view is rather unhindered in the city’s desert climate; the very little condensation of clouds makes for a sky perfectly clear for stargazing.
There are many parks around Las Vegas where one can head to for a night under the stars and enjoy the show put on by nature, simply by laying down on the grass or if you are curious enough, by going for the “Astronomy in the Park” series hosted by the Las Vegas Astronomical Society (LVAS). The events begin in the evenings with a presentation, followed by a laser-guided tour and viewing of the night sky through telescopes provided by the LVAS. LVAS aims to make people learn about the celestial bodies visible from these parks:
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
Adjacent to the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, the Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is a luxury retreat with many historical buildings, a hiking trail, and picnic spots, making this ranch a much trotted spot. The LVAS meets here often and discuss the stars, constellations, moon cycle and planets visible on a particular day. Entry to Spring Mountain Ranch State Park is USD 9 per car for a priceless celestial experience.
Exploration Peak and Exploration Park
A fully restored 2,846-foot-tall natural mountain park, the Exploration Park has cycling trails and walking paths leading to vantage points atop the Exploration Peak that makes for a great stargazing site. The park is ground for many community-based events and is complete with picnic areas, playgrounds, water play area, walking trails, replicas of a western town and Indian village, archaeology dig site and an outdoor amphitheatre.
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Founded in 1988 as Red Rock Canyon Interpretive Association, the park’s mission is to create opportunities to discover, understand, and enjoy public lands by means of imparting educational and interpretive programmes that inform and inspire! Stargazing in the middle of all the red rocks is a unique experience and topping it off with the chance to enhance knowledge makes it all the more wholesome. One can drive the 13-mile scenic route around the rim of the canyon or can opt to go on their many trails with extensive maps covering the various points of interest. The entry fee is USD 7 per vehicle.
Desert National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Centre
The centre boasts of perhaps the widest range of wildlife that south of Nevada has to offer. Its wild, raw and absolutely uninterrupted by human activities of concrete or cement. Stargazing from here is, without a doubt, surreal. The cover of stars is so thick here that getting lost in the depths of the sky is only natural; and the silence is only broken by the sounds from the many animal and bird species prevalent here.
The Pioneer Saloon
The legendary Pioneer Saloon near Goodsprings is perhaps the best place in Nevada for stargazing. Located 25 minutes west of Las Vegas, the place is a historic saloon-turned-Hollywood set. The spot is a hit with stargazers who flee here for a slice of nature topped with brews, cocktails, and American food with a Texan twist. The Pioneer Saloon has been featured in many Hollywood films and TV shows and boasts of a century-old history that a tour guide can explain to you. A guided tour would also include a lesson on how to use telescopes and binoculars to view planets, galaxies, and stars in the evening. A typical tour generally includes a ride from Vegas and back.