5 Stellar Stargazing Spots That Are Less Than 5 Hours From Detroit

Lose yourself in the night sky this summer

Our state’s abundance of lakes and natural resources define what it means to have a “Michigan summer” — we go up north, swim off pontoon boats, and camp under the stars. Though metro Detroiters may need to travel outside of the city to get a decent view of the sky, a starry night isn’t too far away. With so many places for spectacular views, here are five of the top stargazing spots in Michigan that are less than five hours from downtown Detroit. 

Headlands International Dark Sky Park

Headlands International Dark Sky Park photograph courtesy of William Niedbala

Only four hours north of metro Detroit, this woodland oasis is one of the first International Dark Sky Parks in the world. With this designation, the park is forever protected from light and sky pollution. Though camping is not permitted, visitors are welcome to picnic and stargaze all night long. Headlands offers some of the most stellar views in Michigan: meteor showers, the Northern Lights and multitudes of constellations can be seen without the help of a telescope. Headlands International Dark Sky Park,15675 Headlands Rd., Mackinaw City; 231-427-100; midarkskypark.org

Addison Oaks County Park

Addison Oaks County Park photograph courtesy of Duane Upton

According to the Oakland County Geographic Information System’s gazing map, Addison Oaks County Park features low levels of light pollution. Rent a cabin on the shore of Buhl Lake and spend the day kayaking, fishing, or hiking the park’s many miles of trails. When night falls, pull out the sleeping bag and enjoy a clear view of the stars. With the added benefit being so close to home, this 1,140-acre recreation area is perfect for a quick stargazers’ getaway. Addison Oaks County Park, 1480 W. Romeo Rd., Leonard; 248-693-2432; oakgov.com

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Star Party prep photograph courtesy of National Park Service

Climb the dunes at night and ascend into the stars. Hosted by National Lakeshore park rangers and members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society, Star Parties at Sleeping Bear Dunes feature a drop-in telescope and information stations for all star-related questions. Depending on the night, guests can view deep space, solar objects, and planets. Dune climbs take place from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. throughout the summer until Oct. 21. Access to the party is available at no cost with park admission. Sleeping Bear Dunes; 9922 Front St., Empire; 231-326-4700; nps.gov 

Angell Hall

Angell Hall photograph courtesy of S.A. Murphy

See the stars like an astronomer at the University of Michigan Astronomy Department’s campus observatory and planetarium. Thanks to U-M’s Student Astronomical Society, visitors can view the milky way, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies from advanced telescopes. Open houses occur on select Friday nights and include rooftop access for stargazing and planetarium shows. Admission is no cost and open to all ages. The Angell Hall Observatory & Planetarium, 435 S. State St., Ann Arbor; 734-764-3440; lsa.umich.edu

Tawas Point State Park

Tawas Point State Park photograph courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

Known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” this warm, sandy campground is located in Tawas Bay on the shores of Lake Huron. Home to the historic Tawas Point Lighthouse, the park offers outstanding, lakefront views of the night sky. Tawas Point State Park, 686 Tawas Beach Rd., East Tawas; 989-362-5041; michigandnr.com

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