“super stargazing in Michigan!”
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 600-acre parcel of old-growth forest sits on more than two miles of undeveloped Lake Michigan shoreline at the northwest tip of Michigan's lower peninsula, where the Straits of Mackinac sweep into the great lake. Here you will find the darkest of skies, undiluted by light pollution and preserved in perpetuity by Emmet County through the International Dark Sky Association. Monthly, free Dark Sky Park programs and special events tied to celestial phenomenon are held along the pristine and undeveloped shoreline. At present, a waterfront event and observatory center is being built, with a projected opening date of Spring 2017~stay tuned for exciting news of this development and visit our social media sites for the latest news! In the meantime, there is one large guest house available for rent, accommodating more than 20 overnight. Signs in the park direct visitors to designated Dark Sky Viewing areas. No camping, but the park is open 24/7 year 'round, with five miles of trails throughout the property. No entrance fee. Dazzling night sky for photographers, astronomers and dark-sky enthusiasts! The Headlands Park of Emmet County is located on the Straits of Mackinac, 3.8 miles west of downtown Mackinaw City. Photo below courtesy of Robert de Jonge, www.robertdejonge.com
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.
We drove all night and got to the headlands at around 2AM. It was the most amazing view of the sky we’d ever seen—the Milky Way was incredibly clear and you could hear the waves from the lake as you stargazed on the grass. Not sketchy at all and we even slept in our car in the parking lot with no problems. There was some guy out in a sleeping bag down by the water so you can totally spend the night here in anything but a tent. 👍
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
No RVs allowed which is info I didn’t see before I added it to my trip. I’m really bummed that we planned to visit on our cross-country travel and then missed the signs (because it’s sooooo dark) and were awkwardly forced to turn around.
I don’t understand how people who are traveling are supposed to get to the viewing area. It’s a looong ,winding, dark, narrow, woods-lined dirt road. It wouldn’t be safe to walk all that way in the dark. Is that what is expected?
Also, the cutouts are disorienting. We kept thinking we were seeing people.
Ultimately a missed experience but honestly we got an amazing view of the constellations a few miles away anyway.
Don’t sleep on this one. There was an astronomer on hand with a huge telescope and helped us locate different constellation. Another review said it wasn’t worth the creepy 20 minute walk, but you can practically drive right up to it. I did sleep in my car and felt safe and comfy.
The views were amazing, though getting there was relatively creep because of the life size cut outs. Since you cant have man-made light, the cut outs only got creepier. Totally worth it to watch the sunset and see the stars though! Going back soon!
Honestly I expected so much more. Frankly the 20 minute walk to the lake wasn't worth the beach with a terrible view.
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The Headlands, an International Dark Sky Park
- Sun - Sat: 12:00 am - 11:59 pm
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Good for stargazing.
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