I am a self-described "space nerd". I love anything and everything dealing with the cosmos! If you're like me and have a love of the stars, the good news is we live in a state that is very "star" friendly. Did you know Michigan is home to eight different dark sky preserves?
What is a Dark Park?
Dark sky preserves, which can also be referred to as dark parks, are locations in which there are ideal conditions for optimum star gazing. The Michigan DNR describes these locations as possessing, "qualities that complement nighttime viewing, such as the ability to limit the amount of artificial light." Because you need a near-absolute lack of light pollution these parks and preserves are often located far from any major cities, but it is worth the drive!
International Dark Sky Parks
Michigan is lucky to not only have dark sky preserves across six different state parks, but we are also home to two of only 80 certified International Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. which puts us in the same category as places like Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park! Certified International Dark Sky Parks are held to rigorous standards such as community support, land management, size, and sky quality.
Michigan's Dark Parks
As mentioned, many of these dark sky parks are located within our state parks, which means you can camp overnight for the ultimate stargazing experience. In Michigan, you'll find dark parks within:
- Lake Hudson Recreation Area
- Negwegon State Park
- Port Crescent State Park
- Rockport Recreation Area
- Thompson's Harbor State Park
- Wilderness State Park
Michigan's International Dark Sky Parks:
I mistakenly assumed you had to travel to the U.P. to find the best star-gazing in the state, but it turns out T.K. Lawless Park outside of Three Rivers is one of the most stellar spots in the state to view the stars! Lucky for us it's only about an hour away! Check out this breathtaking image from the park: