Dark Sky Parks: Top 4 Places in Michigan for Stargazing and Seeing the Northern Lights

Michigan Dark Sky Parks to see the Northern Lights: Sherry Trautman | Traveling Michigan

Are you as obsessed with stargazing as we are? Lucky for us, Michigan offers several exquisite Dark Sky Parks that will feed our love for the sparkly deep beyond. 

We recently discovered dark sky preserves, viewing areas and international dark sky parks in Michigan...they are fantastic for viewing the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis!

If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I'll bet they'd live a lot differently.

Bill Watterson

Rockport State Recreation Area is a Fantastic Place to View the Stars in Michigan

Rockport State ParkRockport State Park

Rockport State Park is located only 11 miles north of Alpena. We spent a lot of time hiking, biking and exploring this area.  

The area is fantastic for night sky viewing and seeing the stars but see our recommended "what should I bring list below" as summer mosquitoes are fierce.

Negwegon State Park is a Great Dark Sky Park

Ossineke, MI 49766

There is ample free parking and  two porta-johns are located between the parking area and the beach. The area is undeveloped, rugged and pristine.

The drive into the park is several miles of very narrow and sandy terrain. 

Be sure to allow an extra 15- 20 minutes of driving just to get to the parking area.  Generally one vehicle must pull over to the side to allow the oncoming vehicles to pass. 

Thompson's Harbor State Park is Perfect for Seeing the Stars in Michigan

Posen, MI 49776

Located 26 miles north of Alpena. There is ample parking and vault toilets. This park is primitive with marked hiking trails.  Explore more than 7 miles of Lake Huron skyline and beautiful sand dunes.  Perfect for watching the stars!

Headlands International Dark Sky Park is Our Favorite Spot For Stargazing and Seeing the Northern Lights

15675 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, MI

In May 2011, Emmet County's Headlands property became the sixth International Dark Sky Park in the United States and only the ninth in the world!

This is our favorite of the dark sky parks as it is so close to Mackinaw City and is very well maintained.  There is a very short walk from the parking area to the official viewing area. 

Several rows of arched concrete "seating" faces the water so you don't need to bring chairs.  Vehicle headlights are angled away from the viewing area so the light does not destroy the dark sky.

There are very nice bathrooms with flushing toilets.  The light inside the restroom is red so your eyes stay accustomed to the dark.  

TIP: If you arrive early, there are five miles of visitor trails including the Frog Pond Trail, which travels along McCormick Pond.  There is also the fun Overlook Trail that follows a rocky bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. A mile-long Dark Sky Discovery Trail is also near the park’s main entrance drive.

What Should You Bring to Michigan's Dark Sky Parks or Preserves?

Depending on the time of year, the mosquitoes can carry you away.  We just discovered the super useful bug jackets.  They come with a hood that we recommend wearing a brimmed hat with to keep it off your face.  Yeah it's a bit bulky but if it's dealing with a net verses leaving because of mosquitoes, I opt for a little inconvenience.  Chris has the large and I have the medium.  

We also like deet-free bug spray.  Chris prefers the wipes as he puts in on the top of his head or on his ears.  Plus it's super portable and small.

We hope you found some great dark sky parks that will inspire you to relax and dream upon the stars!

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