Dark Skies in and Around Flagstaff

Where to See the Stars

In Flagstaff you can see the stars almost anywhere… from your own back yard if you’re lucky enough to live here. This page gives information on a few special locations where you can view a starry sky “in the raw,” that is without professional assistance and without professional facilities – the best way we feel. Though observatories and large telescopes offer great views, there is something more immediate, more natural, about viewing the night directly and unmediated by big technology. (For anyone looking for an observatory experience, there are our own Lowell ObservatoryNAU Atmospheric Research Observatory, and U.S. Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station, all of which have regular or occasional opportunities for public viewing.)

Once you find your spot to star gaze, you can use these star charts (with stars and planets only or with constellations labeled) to learn your way through the night sky.

Chart with labelsChart with labels Chart without labelsChart without labels

Distances listed (last column) are from the Flagstaff Visitor’s Center.



… In Flagstaff

Buffalo Park Flagstaff
Buffalo Park – High on Cedar Mesa between East and West Flagstaff, a beautiful park (day or night!) with grand, dark and nearly unobstructed night skies filled with thousands of stars. Site of the annual Flagstaff Star Party.
2.7 mi Map

… Near Flagstaff

Anderson Mesa
Anderson Mesa – In the Coconino National Forest out Lake Mary Road, near the Lowell Observatory and U.S. Naval Observatory NPOI sites. Excellent night skies, but please be careful to stop at the wide spot / parking area at the top of the hill, and do not proceed further as you will interfere with the observatory telescopes about a quarter mile away at the end of the road.
14 mi Map
Sunset Crater Milky Way
Sunset Crater National Monument – Lava Flow Trail parking lot and Cinder Hills Overlook are excellent dark-sky sites.
20 mi Map
Painted Desert
Painted Desert Vista – In the Coconino National Forest just beyond Sunset Crater, this is even darker than the Sunset Crater sites and in fact one of the best places on the planet to watch the sunset washing the Painted Desert with unbelievable hues, and the progression through twilight into a natural night.
25 mi Map
Doney Mt
Doney Mountain Picnic area – In the Coconino National Forest on the Sunset Crater / Wupatki National Monument loop  road. A truly remote site, where you can experience a nearly pristine nightscape with no artificial lights visible anywhere and a sky nearly untouched by artificial sky glow.
40 mi Map


To celebrate, promote, and protect the glorious dark skies of Flagstaff and northern Arizona.