Look to the Skies and Experience International Dark Sky Parks in Sandoval County

With high elevation, as well as mostly clear nights, New Mexico is an ideal destination for those seeking a stargazing experience that’s second to none. 

Valles Caldera National Preserve, located in Sandoval County, is one of the nation’s newest International Dark Sky Parks. The super volcano with expansive views is the perfect place to observe the night sky. From the preserve, you can view the Milky Way, constellations, planets, and meteor showers—all without light pollution. 

For those who prefer an in-town night sky experience, head up to Placitas. The environmentally-conscious community is small and surrounded by desert, making it a great location to view the night sky unobstructed by light pollution. 

To have the best night sky experience, follow these tips: 

  • Get cozy – Since stargazing takes some time, be sure to bring blankets or reclining chairs to stay comfy while you’re looking up for long periods. 
  • Bring a star map or download an app – Knowing what you’re looking at is half the fun, so consider an app or a map to help you find constellations and stars. 
  • Limit your light – Whether you’re using your phone or a flashlight, any time of white light will limit your views of the night sky. Consider a red-light flashlight that can help your eyes better adjust in the darkness. 
  • Come prepared – Research ahead of time to know the area you’re exploring, and be sure to pack any snacks, water, and necessary items to enjoy the entire experience.