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Great Basin Star Train

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Silver State Star Tours: Where to Find a Front Row Seat for 2022’s Astro-Events

Chart out the best places to be during 2022’s most incredible astronomical events

Thanks to a remarkable lack of light pollution, Nevada is home to some of the last truly dark (and therefore brightest) skies in the entire country. In fact, when it comes to the best starscapes in the Lower 48, the Silver State takes the gold every time. Go just about anywhere beyond the glow of Las Vegas and Reno, look up, and you’ll find them. 

However, there are certain heavenly havens that are bound to be the most stellar places to witness this year’s awe-inspiring astro-events—including at two International Dark-Sky Association hotspots. If you’re looking to make some memories of astronomical proportions—solo, plus pals, or with the entire fam—scope out this roundup.

Looking to get starstruck? Here’s how to make the most of a Silver State star-fari in 2022.

Five Planets in Alignment

Massacre Rim Dark Sky Sanctuary

4.5 hrs. from Reno

What: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn will slide into formation to resemble a perfect line (a “celestial flush,” as some scientists say), in the exact order you learned about them in grade school—a phenomenon that occurs roughly once every 19 years. 

When: June 18–27, 2022

Where to See It Best: Despite its dark-sounding name, Massacre Rim is home to one of the brightest starscapes on the planet—which is why, in 2019, this BLM-managed Wilderness Study Area was designated one of only seven Dark Sky Sanctuaries in the world by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDSA). One of our favorite fun facts about this destination? On or around a new moon, the stars are actually bright enough to cast shadows

How to Get There: It’s a haul, but a worthwhile one. From Reno, head east to Fernley, turn north and follow the Burner Byway to Gerlach, continue up to Cedarville, CA, and then head east to Vya, Nevada. 2WD vehicles can call it here. 4WD / high-clearance vehicles can continue another 15 miles into the heart of Massacre Rim or beyond—as long as drivers are familiar with Travel Nevada’s Dirt Road Code to ensure safe, responsible travel.

Where to Stay: Old Yella Dog Ranch or Rockin’ TD Ranch—both of which offer cute family guesthouses in Vya.

Along the Way:

Perseid Meteor Shower

Nevada Northern Railway

4.25 hrs from Las Vegas | 5.5 hrs from Reno

Travel Nevada Pro Tip

Can’t make it to the Star Train? Fear not! Keep those eyes to the skies for Perseid Meteor Shower—a month long celestial event that can be seen just about anywhere in Nevada from late-July to mid-August each summer.

What: This annual celestial show dazzles Silver State stargazers every summer as 150 to 200 meteors stream across the night sky every hour. As an added bonus, it happens when the Milky Way is at its absolute prime for viewing.

When: July 17 – August 24, 2022 

Where to See It Best: Ely’s Nevada Northern Railway, the most completely restored historic railway in the country, is a blast to ride any time, but especially during the Perseids on a locomotive-pulled, open-air car on the Sunset, Stars & Champagne Train

How to Get There: 

  • From Las Vegas, follow I-15 northeast about 23 miles; then turn onto US-93 and follow it along the Great Basin Highway all the way to Ely.
  • From Reno, head east on 1-80 and transfer onto US-50 at Fernley; then follow the famous Loneliest Road In America all the way to Ely. 

Where to Stay: Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall, Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall, Bristlecone Motel.

Along the Way: 

Great Basin Astronomy Festival

Great Basin National Park

4.5 hrs from Las Vegas | 6.25 hrs from Reno

What: Join park rangers (out here, they’re “dark rangers”), astro experts, and other aficionados of the cosmos at Great Basin National Park’s recently opened Astronomy Amphitheater to hear lectures and gaze at the heavens through high-powered telescopes—all completely for free.

When: September 22–24, 2022

Where It Happens: Great Basin National Park, an IDSA-designated International Dark Sky Park, where the motto is “Half the Park is After Dark.”

How to Get There:

  • From Las Vegas, follow I-15 northeast about 23 miles; then turn onto US-93 and follow the Great Basin Highway to its eastern spur on US-50/US-6 to the park, located just outside Baker, NV.
  • From Reno, head east on 1-80 and transfer onto US-50 at Fernley; then follow the famous Loneliest Road In America all the way to the park, located just outside Baker, NV. 

Where to Stay: Stargazer Inn, Whispering Elms Motel & RV Park, Hidden Canyon Retreat (all in Baker, NV); Hotel Nevada & Gambling Hall, Prospector Hotel & Gambling Hall, Bristlecone Motel (all in Ely).

Along the Way: 

If you’ve never fancied yourself an “astro-tourist,” a visit to any one of these awesome astro events is sure to change that forever—as well as to give you a brand new way to think of Nevada as the Silver State.

Can’t make it? Not to worry, because any night spent under Nevada’s glittering skies will leave you with glowing memories. Check out our online guide to Nevada stargazing, where you can plot more places to post up, chart out moon phases, and even queue up a playlist that’ll make your speakers shimmer.

Whatever you do, we’re confident that an unforgettable Nevada adventure is clearly in the stars for you this summer.