2022-08-05 | New Roads Magazine

Star Power

Day or night, Camaro Convertible balances driving excitement with incredible open-air views of your surroundings.

The sun dips behind the mountains to the southwest, and fresh pinpricks of light begin to flicker in the inky-blue sky above. Immediately after sunset, the familiar constellations become visible — Orion’s three-star belt, for instance, peeks out alongside the waxing crescent moon.

 

With every glance upward, as every minute ticks by and the afterglow of the sunset disappears, more and more stars twinkle into view: myriad constellations, a seemingly infinite number of dots of light that outshine any planetarium production.

 

The vantage point for this celestial show is deep within Joshua Tree National Park. It is inconceivably dark and implausibly quiet here after sundown, allowing for less corrupted views above. While campers settle down for the night after a day of hiking or exploration, other park visitors arrive specifically to take in a view of the cosmos available in few other places.

The Details Matter

CAMARO

4

AVAILABLE POWERTRAINS

650

MAX AVAILABLE HORSEPOWER

10-SPEED

PADDLE-SHIFT AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION AVAILABLE

ROOM TO EXPLORE
At a little over 1,200 square miles, Joshua Tree National Park is about the size of the state of Rhode Island — though a bit less densely populated.

ROOM TO EXPLORE
At a little over 1,200 square miles, Joshua Tree National Park is about the size of the state of Rhode Island — though a bit less densely populated.

Into the Night
Joshua Tree is one of more than 180 locations globally designated a Dark Sky Place by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA). With more than 80 percent of the world’s population unable to see most stars due to light pollution from artificial sources (such as streetlights or illuminated businesses and parking lots), Dark Sky Places hold a special appeal for anyone enamored with the night sky. There are more than 120 in the U.S., including parks, reserves, sanctuaries, and even specific urban areas that have worked to reduce light pollution.

 

Joshua Tree was named a Dark Sky Park in 2017 and continues to work to reduce light pollution; the surrounding San Bernardino County strengthened its Light Trespass Ordinance in late 2021.

 

“For many city-dwelling visitors, Joshua Tree may be the first time they see the Milky Way,” says Hannah Schwalbe, public information officer at the park. “Maintaining a low level of light pollution is also important to preserve the ecosystem for wildlife.”

 

Joshua Tree receives visitors interested in everything from casual astronomy to serious astrophotography. The campgrounds fill up for well-publicized astronomical events, like the annual Perseids meteor shower in August and the close approach of the comet Neowise in 2020. The park is open 24/7, though only certain campgrounds and trails are designated for all-night stargazing.

 

“Night sky photographers really highlight the beauty of the night skies in Joshua Tree and likely increase the popularity of stargazing in the park,” adds Schwalbe.

Journey to the Sky
Since they are sited away from bright urban lights, the best areas for stargazing are by their very nature often more remote. In the case of Joshua Tree, it’s about an hour’s drive from Palm Springs to the park entrance; tourists from Los Angeles or San Diego can reach the park in less than three hours, depending on traffic.

 

Getting to this incredible destination has been made all the more enjoyable due to having the right car: the Camaro Convertible. Whether you’re soaking up the sun on desert roads or gazing at other suns billions of miles away, Camaro capably balances comfort and sportiness.

 

Available Magnetic Ride ControlTM can read the road and change damping in just 10 to 15 milliseconds to help provide stability and responsiveness. When the convertible top is raised, its multilayer construction helps abate wind and road noise for more comfortable highway driving.

 

When the mood calls for open-air motoring, the powered roof lowers at the touch of a button — even while driving at speeds up to 30 mph. Top-down is ideal for daytime exploration and nighttime stargazing.

 

Top up or top down, Camaro provides a thrilling connection to the road. Its fully independent suspension and direct steering tick all the boxes as State Route 62 twists and rises out of Palm Springs and around Joshua Tree’s northwestern border. The available 3.6-liter V6 snarls from a quartet of circular exhaust tips and, together with an available paddle-shifted 10-speed automatic transmission, serves up plentiful horsepower and torque.

 

Between its refined interior and its high-powered function, Camaro makes it just that much more satisfying getting to the right destination for scoping out Orion’s Belt or the Little Dipper.

Do Look Up
Casual interest in dark areas for stargazing is increasing as urbanization makes it harder for most people to see the night sky from home. The IDA is receiving more requests from parks, communities, and other locations to begin the multiyear certification process to become a Dark Sky area.

 

“Ten years ago, we only certified six places a year,” says Ashley Wilson, director of conservation and lead of the International Dark Sky Places Program at IDA. “Now we’re certifying closer to 25 a year.”

 

Regardless of location, there are a few things to consider before settling in for some dark sky viewing. For obvious reasons, check the forecast and plan to visit on a clear, cloudless night. Avoid nights with a full moon, which brightens the sky. To get around in the dark, use flashlights or headlamps with red bulbs or filters — red light has less impact on night vision adjustment.

 

Also, consider the time of year: The Milky Way is best viewed from July to September in the Northern Hemisphere, and most of the constellations are only visible seasonally. Finally, bring along a physical star map, or an augmented-reality app like SkyView, to get a sense of the stars, constellations, and even planets that are visible.  

POWER FOUR WAYS

Camaro has four available engines for nearly every driver’s taste.

1) 2.0L Turbo
275 hp
Small but mighty, this engine serves up strong peak torque from an accessible 3000 to 4500 rpm.

2) 3.6L V6
335 hp
With classic naturally aspirated responses, this engine delivers a 0-to-60 time as quick as 5.2 seconds.

3) 6.2L LT1 V8
455 hp
The LT1 delivers small-block V8 rumble and even quicker acceleration, going 0 to 60 in as little as 4.0 seconds.

4) 6.2L supercharged LT4 V8
650 hp
ZL1’s supercharged engine offers impressive performance for serious driving enthusiasts.

The Right Car for the Trip
In daylight or moonlight, Camaro makes a bold impression with its available RS package. It enhances the already sharply designed convertible with 20-inch wheels, LED headlamps, a polished black grille, dark-tinted taillamps, and black bowtie emblems.

 

A sporty exhaust note grabs attention on the road, while the performance on tap from Camaro’s available V6 engine and available 10-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission provides added thrills for driver and passenger. A robust 335 horsepower enables thrilling acceleration, yet the engine is remarkably efficient for highway cruises — with up to an EPA-estimated 29 miles per gallon on the highway when paired with the available 10-speed automatic transmission.

 

Although Joshua Tree offers abundant viewing opportunities, star seekers can find ideal spots for celestial exploration almost anywhere in the country. Whether it’s in an IDA-certified location or just a remote park away from the glow of artificial lights, setting up beneath the night sky offers a pure, low-tech way to unplug from the everyday and reconnect with nature.

 

With Camaro Convertible, arriving at those destinations is equally engaging. Lower the roof, recline your seats, and watch the constellations appear as the sun falls below the horizon.

 

STORY: JAKE HOLMES & ZAHRA HUBER / PHOTOGRAPHY: DANA NEIBERT

POWER FOUR WAYS

Camaro has four available engines for nearly every driver’s taste.

1) 2.0L Turbo
275 hp
Small but mighty, this engine serves up strong peak torque from an accessible 3000 to 4500 rpm.

2) 3.6L V6
335 hp
With classic naturally aspirated responses, this engine delivers a 0-to-60 time as quick as 5.2 seconds.

3) 6.2L LT1 V8
455 hp
The LT1 delivers small-block V8 rumble and even quicker acceleration, going 0 to 60 in as little as 4.0 seconds.

4) 6.2L supercharged LT4 V8
650 hp
ZL1’s supercharged engine offers impressive performance for serious driving enthusiasts.

STORY: JAKE HOLMES & ZAHRA HUBER / PHOTOGRAPHY: DANA NEIBERT

  • On ZL1 with 6.2L supercharged V8 engine.

  • Based on initial vehicle movement. Coupe models with manual transmission.

  • Based on initial vehicle movement. Coupe models with available 10-speed paddle-shift automatic transmission.

  • EPA-estimated MPG 18 city/29 highway.

|