“super stargazing in Michigan!”
In early May 2011, Emmet County was awarded International Dark Sky Park designation for the Headlands property -- just the sixth such park in the United States and the ninth in the world at the time (a couple more have been named since). The Headlands is open 24 hours a day, every day, at no charge. There is no camping allowed; however, visitors are welcomed and encouraged to stay out through the night and early morning hours for night-sky viewing opportunities. You may bring blankets, sleeping bags, chairs, food, beverages, etc.Plan accordingly and dress for temperatures 10 degrees below what you expect. The park is located on the shore of Lake Michigan and is always cooler than inland.The public Dark Sky Park programs take place at the Beach House (unless otherwise noted); follow the signs through the park. It's about a mile drive in from the park entrance. Also, the programs are intended for naked-eye observation; however, you may feel free to bring binoculars or telescopes if you prefer to enhance the experience.Please note: There are not yet concrete pads in place for telescopes.If you are heading to the Headlands on a non-program outing, look for the signs for Dark Sky Viewing. There is a designated trail and viewing area along the lakeshore for the public to utilize. Because the two properties on the acreage are rented out by the county, they may be occupied at any given time. Please respect the privacy of the occupants and do not enter the buildings (the Beach House and the Guest House).
The view was lovely, though not the darkest sky-viewing area I've seen. I'm sure part of that was due to being at the edge of a lake, a big reflective surface. The staff on site was wonderful though, and were available to answer all kinds of night sky questions. They had set up a high powered telescope near to the beach, and allowed the public to take a look. We got to see the rings of Saturn, thanks to their help. *Very* cool.
Note: the drive in was fabulously creepy, as the only car on a narrow winding road through a pitch black forest. We will go again next time we visit.
Honestly I expected so much more. Frankly the 20 minute walk to the lake wasn't worth the beach with a terrible view.
I'm going to be optimistic that you can see stars here when the moon isn't as bright as the sun, LOL, as it had been when we visitors, full and lighting the sky we only saw a few stars on the lake shore, but it was still a fun experience; you park your car and walk a mile through the forest, on a part paved and part gravel road, to the lake shore for star gazing. it was pretty terrifying tbh, the bright moon came in handy to help light the way but it was still very dark and we could hear snapping twigs and movement around us; to make it worse, they have life size cut outs of people along the path that scared us to death until we realized they were just some kind of historic markers with plaques, though it was too dark to know what they were there for. there are employees that are super helpful and friendly to help guide you along the way, will def try again next time we are in the area
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Headlands International Dark Sky Park
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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