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8 Unique Ways to Sleep Closer to the Stars
Special places that combine stargazing and distinctive lodging accommodations
By Erin Brereton
When stargazing is your end goal, camping doesn’t have to center around a tent—or even involve being on the ground.
These unique overnight accommodations allow guests to get up close and personal with constellations, comets, and other elements in the night sky, while ensuring a good night’s rest.
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Sleep Among the Branches
in Eureka, Arkansas
Seven of the eight lodging options at this forest haven are situated on stilts roughly 25 feet off the ground. The spaces feature fireplaces, decks, and Jacuzzis—some of which are heart-shaped.

Harold Elias-Perciful, a former pastor, and his wife purchased the cottages last year.

“People hang out in the Jacuzzi and are surrounded by windows; you can look out at the sky and not have to worry about mosquitos,” Harold says. “A lot of people go out on the back deck, take a bottle of wine, and look at the stars there; and all of [the cottages] have skylights—you can lay in bed and look at stars.”

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While most lodging at Treehouse Cottages centers on stairs, one unit has a bridge. Images courtesy of the Treehouse Cottages.
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The Post Ranch Inn’s tree-level lodging is on stilts. Images courtesy of Post Ranch Inn.
in Big Sur, California
Although the nightly Meade telescope stargazing activities that this destination offers are currently on hold due to COVID-19, guests still get a great view of the sky from the hotel’s seven triangular Tree House rooms.

Elevated 9 feet off the ground by supports, each room was designed with a skylight to facilitate watching the stars from bed, according to Gary Obligacion, general manager of Post Ranch Inn. That’s not the only place to enjoy the night’s sky.

“Stargazing is possible virtually anywhere on the property,” he says.

in Big Sur, California
Although the nightly Meade telescope stargazing activities that this destination offers are currently on hold due to COVID-19, guests still get a great view of the sky from the hotel’s seven triangular Tree House rooms.

Elevated 9 feet off the ground by supports, each room was designed with a skylight to facilitate watching the stars from bed, according to Gary Obligacion, general manager of Post Ranch Inn. That’s not the only place to enjoy the night’s sky.

“Stargazing is possible virtually anywhere on the property,” he says.

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The Post Ranch Inn’s tree-level lodging is on stilts. Images courtesy of Post Ranch Inn.
Enjoy Wheel Life
Wagon wheel rentals at Yosemite Pines RV Resort
in Groveland, California
Located roughly 22 miles from Yosemite National Park, this site offers six wooden wheel-outfitted, 19th century-style Conestoga wagons that sleep four to six people. The handcrafted, sizeable sleeping quarters, measuring 25 feet long and 10 feet wide, include king-sized beds, bunk beds, and heating and air conditioning.

People can observe the evening sky from the fire pit out front and the screened window over their bed. They can also stargaze from the resort’s campfire ring.

“It’s an authentic pioneer spirit experience,” says public relations representative Julie Celeste Pimentel. “The resort is 3 miles away from the closest city; at night, it’s dark—the stars are very clear.”

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Some of the Conestoga wagons at Yosemite Pines sleep six people on a king-size bed and two sets of bunk beds. Images courtesy of Yosemite Pines.
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The skies around the Shash Dine Eco Retreat are so dark owner Baya Meehan says the moon can diminish some of the stars. Photos by @alixlogan.
in Page, Arizona
Guests who check in for the two fully restored antique wagons and other lodging at this retreat—which bills itself as a 5 billion-star hotel—must arrive before 6 p.m., partially because there are no streetlights in the rural area, according to owner Baya Meehan.

Furnished with benches and a bed, the wagons also have windows where guests can catch a glimpse of the night sky as they unplug at the resort, which is located on Navajo land, where Baya’s family has resided for generations.

“We’re completely off the grid,” she says. “When you look up, you’re seeing the stars as your ancestors have. I’ve lived here all my life, and I still go outside and just marvel.”

in Page, Arizona
Guests who check in for the two fully restored antique wagons and other lodging at this retreat—which bills itself as a 5 billion-star hotel—must arrive before 6 p.m., partially because there are no streetlights in the rural area, according to owner Baya Meehan.

Furnished with benches and a bed, the wagons also have windows where guests can catch a glimpse of the night sky as they unplug at the resort, which is located on Navajo land, where Baya’s family has resided for generations.

“We’re completely off the grid,” she says. “When you look up, you’re seeing the stars as your ancestors have. I’ve lived here all my life, and I still go outside and just marvel.”

Image of Stars in Shash Dine Eco Retreat
Image of Shash Dine Eco Retreat
The skies around the Shash Dine Eco Retreat are so dark owner Baya Meehan says the moon can diminish some of the stars. Photos by @alixlogan.
Camp Out in Elegant Tents
in Virgin, Utah
Located 20 miles from the entrance of Zion National Park, this campsite sports three Stargazer tents, which each feature a shower, a wood-burning stove, and observation capabilities.

“This specialty safari-style tent completes the nature experience with a night sky-viewing window,” says May Lilley, Under Canvas’ vice president of marketing and communications. “[It’s] strategically placed above a plush king-size bed for a cozy, undisturbed stargazing experience.

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The Under Canvas Zion retreat has several tents with a night sky-viewing window. Top images by Stephanie C Russo; Bottom images by the Nomadic People.
Try Higher-Up Housing
in Pulaski, New York
Built in 1838, this lighthouse is still in service today as a privately owned and operated navigation aid, offering illumination to passing boats. The property also offers accommodations for up to eight guests.

Of the 30 lighthouses on the Seaway Trail that runs from Lake Erie to the St. Lawrence River, people can only sleep in three, according to co-owner Abe Ellis.

“As a result, [ours] has become a very favorable attraction,” Abe says. “People will come from thousands of miles to spend the night.”

Guests can peer out the former Coast Guard-operated lighthouse’s windows for views of the Salmon River and stars. Because the climb to the lighthouse tower involves a spiral staircase and steel ladder, Abe escorts guests who’d like to check out the highest sights upstairs.

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The current Salmon River Lighthouse owners have made a number of renovations to repair the property. Images courtesy of Salmon River Lighthouse & Marina.
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The 65-foot-high Thorny Mountain Fire Tower was constructed in the Seneca State Forest in 1935 as a lookout point for forest fires. Images courtesy of Thorny Mountain Fire Tower.
in Dunmore, West Virginia
Built in 1935 as a fire observation post in West Virginia’s Seneca State Forest, this fire tower was vacant for years after being decommissioned in the 1980s until it began welcoming overnight guests in summer 2015.

Two cots are supplied; there’s no running water—visitors have to bring their own—and the bathroom is located 69 steps down the tower’s base.

But with windows that wrap around all sides, guests get a stunning 360-degree view that often draws stargazers, according to Jeff Layfield, superintendent of Seneca State Forest.

“We’ve had people try to rent it during the annual August Perseids meteor shower period, in particular,” Jeff says. “Of course, there’s a little bit more obtrusive light than there used to be [years ago]; but it’s still quite dark to see stars.”

in Dunmore, West Virginia
Built in 1935 as a fire observation post in West Virginia’s Seneca State Forest, this fire tower was vacant for years after being decommissioned in the 1980s until it began welcoming overnight guests in summer 2015.

Two cots are supplied; there’s no running water—visitors have to bring their own—and the bathroom is located 69 steps down the tower’s base.

But with windows that wrap around all sides, guests get a stunning 360-degree view that often draws stargazers, according to Jeff Layfield, superintendent of Seneca State Forest.

“We’ve had people try to rent it during the annual August Perseids meteor shower period, in particular,” Jeff says. “Of course, there’s a little bit more obtrusive light than there used to be [years ago]; but it’s still quite dark to see stars.”

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Image of Thorny Mountain Fire Tower
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The 65-foot-high Thorny Mountain Fire Tower was constructed in the Seneca State Forest in 1935 as a lookout point for forest fires. Images courtesy of Thorny Mountain Fire Tower.
Book Open-Air Accommodations
in South Big Sur, California
Guests can look directly into the sky from one of the 16 yurts, which each have a clear plastic dome in the center. For a more al fresco stargazing experience, the retreat offers two structures an artist crafted from eucalyptus branches: the two-story Twig Hut and the Human Nest that sits 8 eight feet off the ground and is accessible by ladder.

Both have a mattress inside; though visitors are told to bring their own sleeping bag and a tent in case it rains.

On clear nights, Nest and Twig Hut guests can often see stars all the way to the horizon, or the moon shimmering on the ocean as brightly as the sun during the day, according to co-owner Corinne Handy. They may also encounter a few other things.

“You will get critters in those units,” Corinne says. “They’re curious and looking for places for shelter, just like us. We have people say they’ve been visited by a raccoon in the middle of the night; we try to mitigate that—but they can’t read our signs.”

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Treebones Resort visitors can stay in a yurt or the Twig Hut. Images courtesy of Treebones Resort.
4 Tools for Better Stargazing
Whether at home or in eclectic accommodations, these astronomy tools can help your stargazing experience.
Using this app, quickly find planets and stars in the sky, view animated meteor showers, and simulate eclipses.
This educational app identifies and provides information about planets, stars, and other solar system elements in an interactive 3D format.
Using augmented reality, this app identifies popular celestial elements and helps track specific constellations’ motion.
For a lower-tech option, print out a free planisphere, like this one from the University of California, Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science, which essentially serves as a map to the sky you can adjust to reflect the date and time.
Do you have a favorite stargazing spot? Share it with fellow Neighbor’s Club readers by sending a description to OutHere@TractorSupply.com
About the Writer
Erin Brereton has written about travel, farming, business, and other topics for more than 20 years.

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