Stargazing & Sky Watching
Track constellations in the sky year-round. Every August watch the Perseid meteor showers. From Oregon's coastline to the Willamette Valley's wide open fields to serene Cascade lakes and mountain tops, there are plenty of optimal places to gaze up at the heavens. When you are camping, make sure to look up at the dark skies!
Best Places for Stargazing
When visiting a park site after dark please do so safely. Confirm that the park is open, that you have a source of light (red lenses to protect night vision), a clear path to your destination and sturdy footwear. Do not trespass onto private property. Below are just a few stargazing recommendations.
Dee Wright Observatory - McKenzie River
A prime spot for stargazing is the remote scenic observatory on Highway 242, out in the middle of the barren lava fields. This seasonally-accessible site is not astronomically based (no telescopes or interpretative signage for celestial observations), but its elevation and distance from light pollution are ideal. Closed seasonally.
Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area - Oregon Coast
In designated camping areas, hike out into the sand dunes at night for epic stargazing. Away from city lights, these rolling mountains of sand provide a comfy cushion as you lay on your back and observe meteor showers overhead. Please observe any seasonal and day-use-only restrictions.
Dexter Reservoir - Lowell
Dark skies are excellent here. Bring your telescope and set up on the shores of the dark lake. Please note that the park closes at 9 p.m.
College Hill Reservoir - Eugene
A concrete-enclosed reservoir atop Eugene's College Hill on Lawrence and 23rd Streets is an easily accessible and popular spot for stargazing right in town. Join the Eugene Astronomical Society monthly for their "First Quarter Moon Star Parties" and peek through their telescopes at the constellations.
Spencer Butte - Eugene
Just outside Eugene, a 1.7-mile (2.7 km) uphill hike rewards you with 360-degree views of the Willamette Valley and unobstructed sky. Use caution and flashlights if descending after dark.
Oregon Wine Country - Willamette Valley
Drive out into the farmlands and vineyards outside Eugene - Springfield. Park off the country roads and respect private property. Out here, away from city lights and with fewer visual obstructions, the dark skies will be more accessible.