What happens when your plans go awry.
Yesterday, we decided to move campgrounds an hour down the road. Well that 5 star campground was not what we expected. So out we went to our backup campground, which turned out even worse; our 3rd backup was full. Three hours later, we stumbled upon Cosmic Campground.
This campground was not even on our list. To tell you the truth we thought it was a private campground because of the name. We Couldn’t find any information online and I just said “Well, as we are driving past, if it looks good, we’ll stop.” We barely saw the sign in time. It was a brown sign and a dirt road; so we thought “Right on! Let’s go!” The road is about a half of a mile and was pretty well maintained.
To our surprise it is a new astronomy campground in the Gila National Forest and is a certified International Dark Skies Sanctuary.
The campgrounds are not super defined. We couldn’t tell if certain spots were campsites or multiple campsites, but, when we went it was pretty empty. In fact, when we got there we were the only ones there. By nightfall, there were maybe 6-7 people camping for the night. There is one pit toilet, but, no showers or trash in the area. You have to pack out your trash. There were fire pits, however, we didn’t want to interfere with anyone’s night vision so we did not start a campfire. I am actually surprised that there were rings, although maybe they were not “official” fire rings and just ones made by other campers.
Night sky viewing
We saw a few people setting up their telescopes on the telescope pads and there was a guy coming around inviting people to come over after night fall to view the sky.
He said he would give a tour of the constellations and he would see what he could find with his telescope. We were lucky enough to be able to meet some of the founders of the park (An Astronomy Professor and his wife) and they showed us a galaxy, a star cluster, a binary star and a ring nebula in their telescope along with a tour of the night sky from Jim ,the gentleman we met earlier.
Things you should know before camping here
- Make sure you bring a red filtered flashlight – Very important to maintain your night vision as well as those around you.
- NO Headlights or white lights after dark. Night vision is required to enjoy the Natural Night Sky. If you look at white light from your flashlight or cell phone you will not be able to enjoy the wonders of the natural night sky for 20-30 minutes.
- Please try to arrive before nightfall – Headlights can be disruptive to night sky photographers and astronomers.
- NO Parking on the Observing Area – This are is for equipment only.
- NO Camp fires on observing area or other hardened surfaces
- NO Generators from 7PM till Noon – because many are up late photographing and viewing the night sky.
- NO Drones
- Pack out all of your trash and please leave your site cleaner than you found it. This is maintained partially by volunteers, so please help them out.
You can also refer to their website for more information: https://sites.google.com/site/cosmiccampgroundinformation/Visitor-Information
We love this lifestyle, you never know what is around the next corner.