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Perseid Meteor Shower: 7 Stellar Viewpoints

Neon nights abound in the City of Neon Lights, Las Vegas, but sometimes you want to take a break from it all and reconnect with nature. That’s the time when you should head to the places where the lights come from above, not below, the Earth’s atmosphere. Step just outside the city of Las Vegas and you’ll find plenty of dark skies perfect for stargazing, and August is an ideal time to do it. 

Perseid Meteor Shower

Every year celestial enthusiasts look forward to the return of the Perseid Meteor shower, which provides a chance to escape the city limits for a minute and take in the wonders of the cosmos. After a dismal year last year where light from the new super moon interfered with the ability to see the meteors with the naked eye, 2023’s shower is set to be super stellar for two reasons. Visible July 24 – Sept. 1, the Perseid meteor shower is set to peak right before a new moon on the night of August 12 and the morning of August 13. Since the peak will happen just before a new moon, that means there will be significantly less light interference from the moon, making the sky darker and the meteors easy to see. In fact, it is projected that more than 100 meteors per hour will be visible from a dark site this year. And the best part – August 12/13 is a Saturday/Sunday, so it’s less likely that you’ll have to take off from work/school to see it!

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up some tips on the best places to stargaze in the Las Vegas Territory.

Mt. Charleston

📍Approximate Distance From The Strip: 49 Mins. 42.6 Mi.

Mt. Charleston provides a great city escape to a place where the air is cleaner, the smell of Aspen trees fills the air, and the temps are about 30 degrees cooler than in Las Vegas. With the recent record-setting heat wave we’ve been experiencing, this is likely the coolest location to view the meteor shower near Las Vegas. In Lee and Kyle Canyons, you have the mountain to block some of the light pollution from the city, and the elevation of more than 7,700 ft., both make Mt. Charleston a great place to get a close-up look at the night sky. There are plenty of great trails and campgrounds to stop, but Las Vegan Trent Keenan offers up tips on visiting his favorite spot to stargaze on the mountain – Cold Creek Canyon.

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Red Rock Canyon

📍Approximate Distance From The Strip: 34 Mins. 22.9 Mi.

While the official national conservation area & state park may be closed at night, Red Rock Road is a roughly 15 mi. stretch that winds through the area and is open 24/7. Connecting Summerlin to Blue Diamond and flanked by the majestic red peaks, there are plenty of areas to pull over and take in the beauty of the stars. For those who want to stay a little longer, camping is available by reservation only.

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Lake Mead National Recreation Area

📍Approximate Distance From The Strip: 34 Mins. 24 Mi.

Open 24/7, and surrounded by mountains that block the light pollution from, this man-made lake offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures by day, and fantastic dark skies for stargazing at night. If you have a whole day to explore the outskirts of Las Vegas, or are just looking for a cool place to make a splash – visit the lake during the day for plenty of water sports, hiking, horseback riding, and more. Then at night, sit by the shore (or on a boat), and enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the skies. Plan your trip now!

Dry lakebed foreground, lake background and milky way above

Valley of Fire

📍Approximate Distance From The Strip: 51 Min. 49.6 Mi.

This state park offers stellar moon walks typically during full and new moons, but don’t miss the chance to get outdoors camping with stays in one of its 72 campsites (first come, first reserve). Even nights without the Perseid Meteor Shower is sure to WOW🤩.

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Gold Butte National Monument

📍Approximate Distance From The Strip: 2 hr. 58 Min. 112 Mi.

Ok, sure there you have to drive quite a bit to get to this one, but it is worth the trip! As far as Dark Skies go in Southern Nevada, this is one of the best places to stargaze. Gold Butte is a considerable distance from any largely populated cities, and is only minimally impacted by light pollution from nearby communities and Las Vegas. This has led it to become a great location for amateur astronomers, astrophotographers, and night skies photographers to hone in on their skills.  The  roads within the Monument area are primitive and rough to where you should use a high-clearance, 4 wheel-drive vehicle. For that we have a solution. Check out a jeep rental from Vegas Jeep Tours. If you decide to visit Gold Butte, make sure to spend the day visiting the Mesquite and Moapa Valley nearby, which offer many attractions, restaurants, and overnight lodging should you choose to stay for the night rather than make the drive back to Las Vegas.

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Seven Magic Mountains

📍Approximate Distance From The Strip: 24 Min. 21 Mi.

This popular public art installation in the desert is frequently visited by tourists and locals alike during the day. But during major astronomical events that can be viewed from the naked eye, the parking lot becomes a hot-spot for stargazing at night. Its close proximity to The Strip, and insta-worthy art, make it a great two-for-one spot to visit. Either way, make sure to get to the parking lot early as it fills up with stargazing revelers around sunset during these events.

Night sky view at the art installation of seven magic mountains a gathering spot for the Perseid Meteor Shower

Goodsprings

📍Approximate Distance From The Strip: 33 Min. 33.2 Mi.

If Seven Magic Mountains is full, or stargazing with dozens of other people is not your jam, you can also visit the nearby city of Goodsprings for some great views. The darkest skies and more secluded views can be seen about 3-4 miles down Sandy Valley Road. Make it night and soak in the stars at Sandy Valley Ranch while sleeping in a wagon.

Plus, no trip to Goodsprings would be complete without stopping for a burger and brew at the Pioneer Saloon, Southern Nevada’s oldest bar. On Thursdays stop by for  Hot Pioneer Summer Nights where you can get stellar views from the Orion Spaceprobe 130ST EQ. Telescope starting at 8 p.m., and take in the meteor shower. 

sandy valley ranch
pioneer saloon hot summer nights stargazing

No matter what destination you choose to take you to the cosmos, make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks to make your time more enjoyable. If possible, a folding chair or blankets are also recommended so you have a comfortable place to sit as you gaze. While not required, a red light flashlight will also be helpful to provide illumination on the ground without adding too much light pollution or dilating your pupils too much. Lastly, for added fun download a night sky app to help point out constellations and celestial objects as you gaze. Enjoy the night!

There’s plenty more to enjoy in southern Nevada. Ready to plan your trip? We’ve got plenty of resources for you!

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