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Northern lights, airglow and clouds with stars over the forest at Wilderness State Park near Mackinaw City, Michigan. The Straits of Mackinac has the same geomagnetic latitude as the southern portion of Norway, Sweden and Finland and has some of the best Northern Lights viewing in the world.

Have you tried to catch a good look at the night sky only for your view to be contaminated by lights from a nearby town? These eight parks offer a crystal clear look at the stars, and much more. 

MICHIGAN—Whether it be hiking or bonfires with friends, Michigan summers are a great time for outdoor activities. They also are perfect for sitting on the ground and looking up at the stars through a clear sky—something several dark sky parks across the state offer residents the opportunity for. 

Michigan’s dark sky locations are perfect for stargazing because they have little if no artificial light and a clear view of the stars above. Such spots can be found in six Michigan state parks across the state and in several other areas with a dark-sky designation

Stargazing with friends or family can be the perfect way to round out the summer before the fall season is upon us. If you want to visit a dark sky park or preserve, here is a breakdown of a few of the locations in Michigan. 

Dr. T.K. Lawless Park (Cass County)

Kicking off our list of good stargazing spots in Michigan is Dr. T.K. Lawless Park in Cass County—one of two internationally recognized dark sky parks in the state. The park just recently earned recognition in 2020. The park goes all out to rid itself of artificial light, replacing all its outdoor lighting with fully shielded LED 3,000k lights. 

Call 269-445-4456 for more information. 

Headlands International Dark Sky Park (Emmet County) 

Michigan’s second internationally recognized dark sky park is in Emmet County. Headlands International Dark Sky Park is open 24 hours a day and allows visitors to stay late to get a good view of the night sky. It also features a house people can rent to stay overnight, as camping isn’t allowed. 

Call (231) 427-1001 for more information. 

Lake Hudson Recreation Area (Lenawee County)

The dark sky preserves at the Lake Hudson Recreation Area in Lenawee County is a great destination point for residents from both Michigan and Ohio. In addition to the dark sky park, the recreation area has a campground, lake, trails, and more. 

Call 517-445-2265 for more information. 

Negwegon State Park (Alcona County)

Michiganders looking for an adventure on their way to stargazing might be interested in the Megwegon State Park in Alcona County. Located in a generally undeveloped area, the dark sky preserve presents a great view of the night sky for those wanting a peek. But be careful: the DNR says roads leading into the park are often sandy, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle will likely be needed to access the park. 

Call 989-724-5126 for more information. 

Port Crescent State Park (Huron County)

Port Crescent State Park in Huron County offers visitors the chance to view the stars from the tip of Michigan’s thumb. The Michigan DNR says the park is protected against light pollution and recommends spots near the day-use parking lot for optimal stargazing. 

Call 989-738-8663 for more information. 

Rockport Recreation Area (Presque Isle County)

A park that fairly recently obtained its dark sky preserve designation in 2016, the Rockport Recreation Area in Alpena also offers a bounty of other activities. Visiting ‘Ganders can view the stars at night after hiking, visiting a ghost village, or visiting sinkholes during the day. 

Call 989-734-2543 for more information. 

Thompson’s Harbor State Park (Presque Isle County)

Another stargazing site that requires some hiking is Thompson’s Harbor State Park in Presque Isle County. The park offers trails for hiking, sites for nature watching, and over 5,000 acres of sand dunes. ‘Ganders hoping to do a little bit of everything can do so here. 

Call 989-734-2543 for more information. 

Headlands Dark Sky Park  (Emmet County)

One of the more popular dark sky parks is Headlands Dark Sky Park in Emmet County, about 11 miles from Mackinaw City. This is another one-stop-shop for Michigan outdoors enthusiasts, featuring a beach, trails, and camping opportunities. 

Call 231-436-5381 for more information.