Often, we’ve been wondering how many visitors to Windcliff are thinking about stargazing as one of the great things to do in Estes Park. After all, during the beautiful daytime hours your days are bound to be chock-full of adventure, whether on the trails, on the river, or downtown.
But don’t forget about the wonders of the universe. The Estes Park night sky is simply sublime and must be seen to be believed. It’s well worth it to venture outside your rental home on at least one crisp night to witness the stars in their full glory.
Why stargaze in Estes Park?
Why is stargazing a thing here in Estes Park, anyway? It has a lot to do with our gorgeous, secluded mountain surroundings. Estes Park sits nestled among the mountains at an elevation of 7,522 feet, secluded from the hustle and bustle of major cities. It’s not the hustle and bustle, however, that prevents good stargazing; it’s light pollution.
Image Credit: International Dark Sky Association
Light pollution is one of stargazing’s biggest enemies, and makes it difficult to see faint or distant objects in the night sky.
With a clear night sky away from nearby light pollution (and a mountain range that can block light) Estes Park and the surrounding area is generally ideal for novice and seasoned astronomers alike. You can access an interactive map of light pollution worldwide here.
Where to get the best Estes Park night sky views
We strongly encourage you to “go on an adventure” to find your perfect stargazing spot – who knows where you might find celestial nirvana? It might be on one of your hikes or river walks, in an area you’d never expect!
That being said, Estes Park is full of places you can go for a more guided experience. You might want to start at one of the local visitor centers, such as the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. Campgrounds such as the Moraine Park Camground are also a great location to set up a nice, comfortable viewing party from the comfort of your vehicle. If you are looking for more of a guided experience to the Estes Park night sky – and perhaps the ultimate guided experience at that – you can contact the Estes Park Observatory to reserve a visit.
How to get started stargazing in the mountains
If you’re interested in dabbling in stargazing yourself, there are a few essential tools that we recommend to get you started. It must be mentioned, however, that no tools are necessary to enjoy stargazing in the mountains. All you really need is you, your eyes, and perhaps one or more loved ones to accompany you. But for those looking for a deeper, self-guided view into the stars: here’s where to start.
First, an amateur refracting telescope can be set up easily (in a matter of an hour or less). Despite a little bit of a learning curve – we recommend that you purchase and use your telescope at home before bringing it on your trip – even a very basic model can provide stunning views of the moon and star clusters. Introductory telescope models are even capable of seeing planets, such as Saturn and Jupiter, with enough tweaking and perseverance.
Second, downloading one of the popular stargazing apps – available on both the Apple Store and Play Store – can help you locate the objects you would like to view in the night sky. These apps make it relatively straightforward, positioning you with GPS and utilizing the display to show you a view of the stars that moves along with you! In this way, based on your precise location, you can position and calibrate your telescope for the best chance of seeing the object you desire. One app we have used is called Sky Guide.
Ready to view the heavens from the best mountain getaway on Earth?
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