For those who seek a far out place in New Mexico to gaze at the stars, the Cosmic Campground is the place to go! This campground actually is an International Dark Sky Sanctuary that has solid platforms for telescopes and camera tripods, so a serious star gazer will feel right at home. This end of the Gila National Forest is a very remote desolate area that sees very little traffic, so there is no city glow to be found in the night sky from one horizon to the other. There is only pitch black darkness and the heavens above, which is like a dream come true for an avid star gazer!
The Cosmic Campground is fairly spacious, but the majority of visitors drive RV campers, so the empty space can fill up quick. Tent camping is allowed and as a courtesy, there is a buffer zone between the campers and the telescope pads, so no artificial light interferes with the celestial viewing. The facilities are rustic and there is no water, but there is a pit toilet, which is a real plus in this very remote place. This campground currently is not in the Gila National Forest reservation system and it is a first come, first serve site. A number of large star gazer groups and photography clubs frequent this campground on weekends, but there is usually plenty of elbow room during the weekdays.
There was a large group setting up their equipment on the evening that I checked out this campground. Instead of clumsily hanging around, I ended up camping nearby deep in the Apache National Forest. I sure did make a mental note of this campground, because I was planning to retire my old camera and purchase a newer model with better low light capabilities. Having done so, the Cosmic Campground is back on my bucket list.
For anybody interested in doing astrophotography or telescope star gazing, there are plenty of clubs that can be joined. These organizations have the resources to teach an old dog some new tricks, no matter how little or how much experience you may have. Entry level used equipment goes cheap nowadays, especially with every advance in technology, so it really does not take much money to get into the game. Once the star gazing bug bites, the number of dark sky destinations are nearly endless out west, which guarantees plenty of opportunities to enjoy a peaceful night of gazing at the stars above!
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