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10 Great Camping Spots for Star Gazing


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Badlands National Park, South Dakota
During the day enjoythe terrestrial sights of the Badlands National Park. At night, turn your eyes skyward.
During the day enjoythe terrestrial sights of the Badlands National Park. At night, turn your eyes skyward.
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The desolate Badlands in southwestern South Dakota are loaded with fossils. Ancient mammals such as the saber-toothed cat once roamed the area's 244,000 acres (98,743 hectares), padding across its mixed-grass prairie and climbing its buttes, pinnacles and spires. Today, bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets -- North America's most endangered land mammal -- live here [source: Parks and Campgrounds].

This rugged, remote terrain is also a great spot to view the heavens, where it's easy to spot more than 7,500 stars on any given night and enjoy an exceptionally clear view of the Milky Way. In addition, you may spot fly-overs by numerous satellites and even the International Space Station. A Night Sky Program runs Friday through Monday at the Cedar Pass Campground Amphitheater; after the program, visitors can stay a bit longer to peer at the sky through large telescopes. Park rangers stay and helpfully point out various constellations, stars and planets. In August, the Badlands Astronomy Festival is held, featuring lectures, family workshops, more telescope viewing and special ranger programs [source: National Park Service].

In addition to Cedar Pass, camping is also available at Sage Creek Primitive Campground [source: National Park Service].


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