The Best Stargazing Spots in the South

Calhoun
Photo: Thomas DeGrange/Getty Images

In so many areas around the globe, light pollution encroaches, making dark skies a shrinking resource. Where there is increased illumination from artificial light sources, you'll find it more difficult to see the stars, even on clear nights. However, there are still some places around the South where you can find dark skies far from the lights of cities, houses, and roadways filled with traffic. We've gathered a few of the best stargazing spots in the South in this list. Many of them are National Parks and are also designated International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association. Set out to see the stars, and in the darkest areas, you might just get a glimpse of the Milky Way—or, if you're lucky, make out some of the most difficult-to-see constellations in space. Find maps online to aid in planning your visit; they update regularly and can help forecast clear conditions to reveal starry skies.

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Bare Dark Sky Observatory

North Carolina
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Burnsville, North Carolina

This six-acre site within a nature preserve was named an International Dark Sky Park—the first of its kind in the southeast—and is surrounded by picturesque mountains.

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Bienville National Forest

Bienville
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Lake, Mississippi

Located in Mississippi, this national forest is made up of 178,000 acres of public land where activities like hiking and picnicking are as popular as stargazing.

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Big Bend National Park

Big Bend
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Terlingua, Texas

Located along the Rio Grande River, this national park was named an International Dark Sky Park because it's one of the largest, most remote, and least populated in the country. This combination of factors makes the dark skies above the park a great place to see the stars.

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Big Cypress National Preserve

Big Cypress
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Ochopee, Florida

According to the Florida National Parks Association, "Big Cypress National Preserve has one of the last protected night skies where visitors can still enjoy the splendor of the Milky Way and see a night-sky strewn with thousands of stars with only the naked eye."

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Blue Ridge Parkway

Blue Ridge
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North Carolina

A drive along the North Carolina section of the parkway opens up to panoramic views. Stop at Craggy Dome Overlook at Milepost 364.1, Mills Valley Overlook at Milepost 404.5, or Graveyard Fields at Milepost 418.8 to get started. Keep an eye out—if you time your trip right, you just might see a meteor shower.

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Buffalo National River

Buffalo National River
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St Joe, Arkansas

The Buffalo National River is nestled in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, and between its bluffs and forests it offers stellar views of the night skies.

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Calhoun County Park

Calhoun
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Grantsville, West Virginia

West Virginia's Calhoun County Park is designated as a Dark Skies Park, and it's a destination for annual dark skies parties as well as being a favorite spot for amateur stargazers to set up telescopes.

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Conecuh National Forest

Conecuh
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Andalusia, Alabama

This spot near Andalusia has long been a favorite place for Alabama star-spotters. On clear nights when the conditions are right, you might be able to see the Milky Way as well as the M33 and M31 galaxies.

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Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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Gatlinburg, Tennessee

While lights from nearby cities do leak into some areas of the park, there are still plenty of places to go stargazing in the Smoky Mountains. Set out for overlooks, peaks, and scenic vistas in more remote areas to find the best night views.

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James River State Park

Louisiana
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Gladstone, Virginia

Located in the center of Virginia, James River State Park is a hub for stargazing. Local astronomy programs frequent the area to see the skies and invite visitors in for events with high-powered telescopes and guides.

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Kisatchie National Forest

James River
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Glenmora, Louisiana

Louisiana's Kisatchie National Forest has areas that are so dark, you can see the Milky Way swirl in the sky above. There are few truly dark skies left in the world, but this is a good one for seeing the stars.

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Ocracoke Island

Ocracoke
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Ocracoke, North Carolina

Make your way to the Outer Banks to stargaze with a background soundtrack of ocean waves. Hit the beaches on Ocracoke Island for an ideal place to see the night skies.

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Pickett CCC State Park and Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area

Pickett
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Jamestown, Tennessee

One of Tennessee's best stargazing destinations is in Jamestown's Pickett CCC State Park and Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural Area, where visitors flock to see the constellations when the sun goes down.

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Staunton River State Park

Staunton
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Scottsburg, Virginia

If you want to see the stars in Virginia, you can find few better spots than Staunton River State Park in Scottsburg, which has policies in place to minimize light pollution and has been designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.

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Stephen C Foster State Park

Stephen C Foster State Park
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Fargo, Georgia

Another International Dark Sky Park, Georgia's Stephen C Foster State Park is located in the Okefenokee Swamp area and opens up to unparalleled views of the starry skies.

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