There is something beautiful and peaceful about witnessing the night sky outside of a city. As soon as you make the journey to escape the light pollution of the populated locations, the stars come to life and the incredible Milky Way is revealed to the naked eye. I started my journey into astro photography about 5 years ago, and it has been a passion of mine ever since. Due to proximity to my home in San Francisco, I mostly photograph the night sky around the American South West and California. So I compiled a collection of my favorite places to photograph the Milky Way in the areas I most venture too. These favorites are based on the a number of factors, including brightest stars, best foreground, and overall vibe. I hope you enjoy these incredible locations and that they inspire you to venture out this summer and look up at the stunning night sky. And once you have those hard earned photos of the Milky Way, I have included my latest tutorial “How to process the Milky Way using Abobe Lightroom CC“.
Northern Arizona has some of the darkest skies I have ever seen. Incredibly vivid views of the Milky Way matched with dramatic desert landscapes make this an ideal location for astro photography. Arizona has too many amazing locations to count. It is worth making multiple trips out here.
Eastern Sierras, California
The Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range has some of the most iconic natural landmarks in California. Of course, being far from civilization, it is also home to some amazing night skies. Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake, Mammoth, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest are just some of my favorite spots in this incredible corner of California.
Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park lies in Southern Utah and is part of the Mighty Five and is another phenomenal place to view the Milky Way. Dramatic rock formations, awesome night skies and an all around great place to hike, bike and explore.
Santa Ynez, California
One of the most underrated locations in California for viewing the night sky is Santa Ynez. While the landscapes are not the most dramatic in the world, I still find the location extremely beautiful. The rolling hills and tangled oak trees are a joy to explore. This is where I got my start photographing the Milky Way and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Not to mention its only an hour and a half to two-hour drive from Los Angeles.
Anza Borrego, California
The night sky is blazing in Anza Borrego and a perfect place to stargaze. This was my go-to spot for viewing the night sky when I lived in San Diego. I still enjoy coming back here to catch a glimpse of the Milky Way. I have had many sleepless nights photographing the stars out here and it has been been amazing every time.