The Nice Lakes encircle Michigan, so Michigan’s shoreline is surrounded in close to whole darkness, making it a prime spot in the US for stargazing. Michigan provides six darkish sky preserves and three internationally designated Darkish Sky Parks. Whilst you’ll discover different locations nice for stargazing in Michigan, particularly within the Higher Peninsula, this text focuses on these areas named explicitly as darkish sky preserves or Worldwide Darkish Sky Parks.
Since getting engaged in stargazing entails some late nights, typically it’s best to plan to remain in a single day. For that cause, I’ve talked about tenting choices and different lodging at every park.
Whereas I listed darkish sky preserves after which Worldwide Darkish Sky Parks, they’re in no explicit order inside every class.
1. Lake Hudson Recreation Space
Nestled within the inexperienced, rolling Irish Hills of Lenawee County in southeastern decrease Michigan, you’ll discover the Lake Hudson Recreation Space. In 1993, the realm turned Michigan’s first darkish sky protect. The location is roughly 2,796 acres, encompassing the 600-acre Lake Hudson.
The protect provides low mild, utilizing particular lighting fixtures with movement sensors to attenuate mild air pollution. Whereas this park doesn’t have strict mild utilization guidelines, they remind friends about minimizing lights at campsites and of their automobiles. Two of one of the best locations to set as much as view the night time sky within the protect are the seaside or picnic parking areas, as you gained’t discover as many individuals within the night.
If you wish to maximize your darkish sky viewing, they’ve a semi-modern campground with 50 campsites with electrical service. Sadly, the restrooms are vault bathrooms, and also you gained’t discover showers. As a substitute, the water is through a hand pump. You’ll additionally discover a semi-modern cabin with a lake view that sleeps three.
Professional Tip: Astronomer’s Forecast
Take a look at the Clear Sky Chart to find out one of the best time to view the night time sky at Lake Hudson Recreation Space. The chart gives hour-by-hour data on elements like darkness and cloud cowl so that you simply’ll know one of the best viewing occasions to see galaxies and planets along with your telescope.
2. Negwegon State Park
Located on U.S. Freeway 23, between Alpena and Harrisville on Lake Huron, Negwegon State Park provides 4,118 acres of undeveloped land, excellent for stargazing. In the event you’re trying to lay on the seaside and watch the celebs, they supply a mile-long sandy seaside on Lake Huron.
The park options 4 hike-in rustic campsites open from April by way of November. The campsite hikes are one and two miles from the principle car parking zone.
Whilst you’re within the space, a enjoyable daytime exercise when you’re ready for the solar to set is the Nice Lakes Maritime Heritage Middle in Alpena, about 20 miles north of the park. They’ve 10,000 sq. toes of interactive displays, and admission is free.
Professional Tip: Sandy Roads
Once you go to Negwegon State Park, remember that the entry roads are often sandy, and chances are you’ll want a four-wheel-drive car to enter.
3. Rockport State Recreation Space
Presque Isle County
Located on the shores of Lake Huron, north of Alpena, the Rockport State Recreation Space is 4,237 acres and is the right vacation spot for stargazers. The recreation space, together with Negwegon State Park and Thompson’s Harbor State Park, has a number of the lowest measured mild air pollution within the Nice Lakes. As well as, for the reason that park is below darkish sky safety, it’s an incredible place to view stars at night time with the bare eye. Usually seen are the swirls of the Milky Means. It’s possible you’ll even see the aurora borealis, or northern lights.
In the course of the day, newbie archaeologists and dinosaur-loving children will benefit from the deserted limestone quarry the place they’ll dig for over 400-million-year-old fossils. As well as, the youngsters will love that you simply’re allowed to take away as much as 25 kilos of fossils from the park every year. This park is Michigan’s one hundredth state park and is generally undeveloped.
Professional Tip: No Tenting Gear, No Drawback
In the event you’d wish to go tenting, however don’t wish to put money into all of the gear, attempt renting one of many Michigan state park in a single day choices. They’ve the whole lot from geodesic domes to safari-style tents and yurts.
4. Thompson’s Harbor State Park
Presque Isle County
With 7.5 miles of Lake Huron shoreline close to Rogers Metropolis, Thompson’s Harbor State Park is comprised of 5,109 rustic acres. Hikers will discover 6 miles of trails to take pleasure in.
For these desirous to benefit from the night time sky, you’ll be able to keep in a single day in one in all two rustic cabins. The Cedar Haven Cabin and Stone Path Cabin every sleep as much as six individuals with a pull-out sofa and two bunk beds. Every cabin features a fuel range and lanterns, out of doors hand pumps, and vault bathrooms. Whilst you’re nonetheless roughing it, it’s a step up from a tent. The 2 rustic cabins are additionally accessible for winter tenting.
5. Port Crescent State Park
Port Crescent State Park rests on the tip of Michigan’s thumb area, simply outdoors Port Austin. As a result of this 640-acre park is a darkish sky protect, they take measures to guard it towards mild air pollution. Consequently, one of the best place to view the night time sky is from the viewing platform close to the day-use Parking Lot D.
The park additionally options quite a lot of tenting choices with lakefront views, from hammock-only websites to a whole amenity cottage and the whole lot in between. Additionally they have two accessible geodesic domes, a extra uncommon alternative.
In the event you take pleasure in kayaking or canoeing, you’ll wish to remember to make a journey to Turnip Rock. This 7-mile out-and-back journey showcases a big limestone rock with bushes rising from the highest, making it resemble a turnip.
Professional Tip: Tenting Reservations
A good way to benefit from the stars is to sleep below them. Many Michigan state parks function campgrounds. Their websites refill quick, so that you’ll wish to make a reservation nicely upfront.
6. Wilderness State Park
Located 11 miles west of Mackinaw Metropolis, Wilderness State Park is a state-designated darkish sky protect simply 9 miles from Headlands Worldwide Darkish Sky Park. Along with the 26 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, you’ll discover greater than 20 miles of mountain climbing trails. The paths are between 1 / 4 mile to three.5 miles lengthy, making it simpler to search out one which meets your talents.
Wilderness State Park has over 300 campsites, from backcountry tenting to full-hookup websites. They even provide cabins and bunkhouses if you happen to want a roof over your head.
I take pleasure in exploring lighthouses, and you’ll see the Waugoshance Lighthouse from the park, which lightkeepers first lit in 1851.
Professional Tip: Recreation Passport
All six darkish sky preserves require coming into autos to have a Michigan Recreation Passport.
7. Headlands Worldwide Darkish Sky Park
Whereas Michigan has six state-authorized darkish sky preserves, Headlands was Michigan’s first Worldwide Darkish Sky Park, the sixth in the US and ninth on the earth. In the present day it’s one in all three in Michigan. Situated lower than 4 miles west of Mackinaw Metropolis, the park is over 600 acres of forested land. They’re all the time open, and entry is free.
Every season, Headlands boasts a special group of dazzling stars on show. So, if you happen to’ve been there earlier than, you’re certain to get a brand new present every time you go to. And, with some luck, you’ll catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
They’ve an observatory with an 18-foot dome the place you’ll be able to view the night time sky by way of a 20-inch PlaneWave telescope. Additionally they function particular darkish sky occasions of their occasion heart.
I recommend you arrive throughout the day to orient your self earlier than darkish. They’ve a great deal of actions. All through the 5-mile path, you’ll discover data on every of the planets. I discovered that very useful whereas searching for planets within the night time sky.
Professional Tip: Lodging
Whereas the park doesn’t enable tenting, you’ll be able to hire a visitor home that can sleep greater than 20 individuals.
8. Dr. T.Okay. Lawless Park
Situated in southwest Michigan, 9 miles east of Cassopolis, Dr. T.Okay. Lawless Park is an 820-acre Internation Darkish Sky Park. Because it’s a county park, they cost a small entrance charge.
All of the mountain climbing and biking trails have a lake view, and a few function scenic lookouts. The park is open year-round and is a well-liked space for cross-country snowboarding within the winter.
9. Keweenaw Mountain Lodge
Whereas the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is on the Nationwide Register of Historic Locations, it continues to re-invent itself. It’s now Michigan’s latest Internationally Designated Darkish Sky Park.
Sitting on the prime of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Copper Harbor, the lodge in-built 1934 was a component of the Works Progress Administration. Since I don’t take pleasure in tenting, I discovered the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge the right resolution to staying out and stargazing but sleeping in a snug mattress at night time. Combining rustic with a contact of luxurious, they provide quite a lot of cabin flooring plans to fulfill your wants.
It makes strolling again to your cabin straightforward after their onsite stargazing occasions and astrophotography programs.
Professional Tip: Instructional Applications
Along with darkish sky occasions, the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge provides quite a lot of studying experiences. An Outside Actions Middle (OAC) options guided mountain bike rides, hikes, and different actions like golf.
You can too try the Worldwide Darkish-Sky Affiliation’s web site to be taught extra about what they’re doing to guard the night time skies.
For different locations to view the darkish sky, try these different articles: