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A train painted blue and purple is parked without lights; above it sprawls stars and the Milky Way.
Sky Railways

This vintage train takes you out to stargaze near Santa Fe

Champagne, live music and the stars: a perfect night

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman

If you love trains and stargazing, we have the perfect experience for you: a ride on the Sky Railway’s StarGazer train in Santa Fe. This ride takes place once a month on the Saturday closest to the new moon so that the stars are the most visible. The train departs from the Santa Fe station on a trip to get out to where city lights abate and you can see the dark skies sprawling above you.

The ride begins in a heated 1924 Pullman car, with a glass of complimentary wine. When it’s time, head out to the open-air flatbed cars with heated floors to look through a telescope. An astronomer on board helps you understand what you’re seeing. Did we mention that there’s live music? This ride lasts a little more than two hours out to the Galisteo Basin Preserve and back. The basin consists of arroyos, sandstone formations and savannah grasslands: 10,000 acres of wildlife preserve with hiking, biking and equestrian trails. The entire area looks dramatically silhouetted at night against the expansive sky.

New Mexico has been making an effort to protect the beauty of the night sky, and in 1999 passed the Night Sky Protection Act, which means the state takes active measures to preserve the darkness of the sky, such as requiring outdoor lights to direct the light downward rather than upward. According to the Santa Fe Conservation Trust, researchers have determined that “a single, unshielded street lamp can affect the view of the night sky for an observer up to 125 miles away.”

Since this month’s new moon falls on February 20, the StarGazer runs on the 18th. March’s new moon is on the 23rd, so the ride is on the 18th; while April’s new moon is on the 20th and the StarGazer ride is on the 15th.

Dark skies aren’t just good for our sense of wonder; they’re great for our bodies. We produce more cancer-fighting melatonin and sleep better when we reacquaint ourselves with the splendor above our heads. And reducing ambient light pollution helps animals and insects too. Around 1 billion migrating birds die each year because they get confused by city lights and lose navigational skills, says Of course, we all want to be safe outdoors at night, but once you are: click off the light.

StarGazer tickets are $139; check availability here.

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