Southern California is an ideal place to stargaze, but is more compelling in less populated areas, national parks or in cities that take initiative to minimize their use of outside light. Below are the five best places in SoCal to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way, constellations and a meteor shower or two.
Along route 154 and north of the Santa Ynez Mountains lies Cachuma Lake. It is known as a premier fishing destination due to its hidden location, but that also makes it ideal for stargazing. The Milky Way is definitely visible on clear nights, and made even better with the use of a telescope. You can rent a cabin, bring tents or an RV or just stay for a few hours. For more details on the park: www.countyofsb.org/parks/cachuma.sbc.
For more of an adventure, stargaze in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Located in Borrego Springs, the park is designed for stargazers. Public lights and airports have adapted to give campers the ultimate sky experience, making it the first International Dark Sky Community in California. It will probably be hot, so be prepared. For more information: www.visitcalifornia.com/attraction/stargazing-anza-borrego-desert-state-park.
Stargaze at an unsuspecting location 45 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles known as Templin Highway. Being so close to home, it’s great for new campers, experienced ones or those just looking to catch a shooting star. Los Angeles is far enough away to give you the night of a life-time, but still feels like home. To read more about this experience: www.feelattractexplorewithjanet.wordpress.com/tag/templin-highway.
After a trip to Big Bear or Joshua Tree National Park, stargazing in Yucca Valley is a great way to end a night. The area is slightly cooler than its neighbors and although it has more residents, pollution is kept to a minimum. This combination makes Yucca Valley a prime camping spot for aspiring astronomers. For more information on the area: www.yuccavalley.org/visitors/index.html.
In Orange County, Holy Jim Falls is located deep in the Santa Ana Mountains. It is possible to get to with a car, but better viewing areas should be approached on foot. Since the spot is so secluded, seeing the Milky Way, showers, shooting stars and even a couple plants is not too rare. It is one of the most favored spots in Orange County, so be prepared to meet a few new friends along the way.