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Outdoor Nevada: See the Stars!

The Mizpah Hotel sign on the roof of the hotel building in Tonopah, Nevada
Efforts are underway to bring medical care back to Tonopah.


Next time you’re in Las Vegas at night, look up and count how many stars you can see. Ten, 20, maybe 30 if you’re on the outskirts. Well, how about spotting thousands — including the Milky Way — with the naked eye? Tourism officials consider Tonopah a top stargazing destination in the Southwest, due to its practically nonexistent light pollution and distance from … well, anywhere else.

The small town along U.S. 95 in Western Nevada is known for its ghosts, as you will see in this episode of “Outdoor Nevada,” where host Connor Fields visits the famous Mizpah hotel and explores Nevada’s local brewing scene. After you’ve gotten the chills in the haunted hotel and enjoyed a cold one, head out after dark to Tonopah Stargazing Park.

If you’re familiar with stargazing, then you’ll appreciate this park’s cement pads for telescopes, guaranteed to provide the ultimate view of space. But you don’t necessarily need fancy equipment to experience the spectacular skies out here; you can just look up. Or, you can do what I’ve done, which is ask for a peek into someone else’s telescope — the stargazer community is mighty friendly.

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Site: Clair Blackburn Memorial Stargazing Park

Getting there: From Las Vegas, drive about 193 miles north on U.S. 95. Then, ignore Google Maps. Turn by Tonopah High School and follow the road until it turns to dirt. Go straight until you arrive at the park.

Distance: From Las Vegas, three hours. From Tonopah, just a few minutes.

Equipment needed: A high-clearance vehicle will help on the dirt road. You don’t need anything to see the stars out here, but if you have a nice camera and/or a telescope, definitely don’t leave those at home.

Pro tip: The Tonopah Clear Sky Chart has a bit of a learning curve for inexperienced stargazers, but familiarity with it facilitates the best views.

Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates and creates content for, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.