When you want to get away or take a break, try spending some time stargazing. Now, of course, you’re under the stars wherever you go, but the best way to actually get to see them is by finding somewhere with as little light pollution as possible. Light pollution happens when there are other lights–street lamps, neon signs, twinkle lights–that make it difficult for you to see the stars. If you want to really enjoy your time stargazing, it’s best to go somewhere like a park where there are fewer lights. You can also try to go to International Dark Sky Places, which are places that have been certified as having less light pollution. Whether you want to camp out under the stars or learn about them from the top of an observatory, we’ve put together a list of the best places for stargazing in Texas to help you decide.
Places For Stargazing In Texas
1. Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is probably the best-known Texas park. It’s a nature reserve sitting on a bend in the Rio Grande that forms part of the border with Mexico. The park is full of treasures from dinosaur bones to archeological sites that date back 10,000 years. It also has the distinction of being recognized by the International Dark Sky Association as a Dark Sky Park. In fact, experts believe that visitors can see approximately ten times as many stars in Big Bend as they might be able to see in a city like Houston. Check out one of the canyon nature trails for a clear view of the vast, open sky.
Where: 1 Panther Junction, Big Bend National Park, TX 79834
2. Big Bend Ranch State Park
Right next to Big Bend National Park is Big Bend Ranch State Park, another Dark Sky Park. This park actually boasts the darkest skies in Texas, which is quite a feat. There are plenty of trails and canyons for you to choose from. Try Big Hill or River Road for the best stargazing views.
Where: 1900 South Saucedo, Presidio, TX 79845
3. South Llano River State Park
Another certified Dark Sky Park, South Llano River State Park has a beautiful expanse of riverbank for park visitors to enjoy while gazing up at the stars. There’s also an abundance of local wildlife, especially birds such as wild turkey. In addition to some of the best stargazing in Texas, in fact, you might get to enjoy some pretty stellar bird watching.
Where: 1927 Park Rd 73, Junction, TX 76849
4. The George Observatory at Brazos Bend State Park
The George Observatory is designed specifically for stargazing. The Houston Museum of Natural Science determines the programming for the observatory, which is located in Brazos Bend State Park. Brazos Bend is a nice, unpolluted place to view stars all on its own, with plenty of nature trails to enjoy. The George Observatory brings visitors right into the sky to enjoy a much closer look at the stars and planets. If you’d like to learn more about the stars while looking at them, a visit to the observatory includes a chance to hear from astronomers and view images from high-powered telescopes.
Where: 21901 FM 762 Rd, Damon, TX 77430
5. Enchanted Rock
Enchanted Rock State Park is another Dark Sky Park with plenty of dark, open sky to offer a stargazer. This park is one of the best places to stargaze in Central Texas, just outside of Fredericksburg. Its most famous feature is its namesake, a 425-foot piece of pink granite. In addition to stargazing, this park offers hiking, backpacking, camping, rock climbing, and bird watching.
Where: 16710 Ranch Rd. 965, Fredericksburg, TX 78624
6. Dripping Springs
Dripping Springs is not a Dark Sky Park; it’s a Dark Sky Community. That means that the International Dark Sky Association recognizes this city as one that reduces light pollution well enough to see the stars. There are actually quite a few Dark Sky Communities in Texas, all of which encourage residents to cut back on having lights on unnecessarily. However, Drippings Springs has the special honor of being the very first one in Texas. They celebrate an annual Texas Night Sky Festival every March. Of course, you are more than welcome to stargaze there year-round.
Where: Dripping Springs, TX 78620
7. Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is a great place for stargazing in Texas if you’re up north in the panhandle. The park hosts events such as moon gazing, moon hikes, and stargazing events. They have binoculars and three telescopes on hand to help you explore the skies in more detail. The remote, rocky park is a nice place to get away and just enjoy nature.
Where: 11450 State Hwy Park Rd 5, Canyon, TX 79015
8. Copper Breaks State Park
Copper Breaks State Park, yet another Dark Sky Park, is also another panhandle favorite. It’s known for its incredible views of the clear night sky (it received “gold-tier” status from the International Dark Sky Association). While you’re in the area, this park allows for fishing in Lake Copper Breaks or Big Pond without any license. You might also get a chance to see the herd of Texas Longhorn that lives in the park.
Where: 777 State Hwy Park Rd 62, Quanah, TX 79252
9. McDonald Observatory at Davis Mountains State Park
McDonald Observatory is part of the Astronomy Department at the University of Texas. With four high-powered telescopes at the ready, it’s an excellent place for stargazing in Texas, especially for those who want to learn more about the stars while they’re admiring them. Three times a week, the observatory holds Star Parties, events where visitors can tour the night sky with the help of experienced astronomers. Note: it’s recommended that you make reservations for these events in advance. They can get fully booked pretty quickly.
Where: 3640 Dark Sky Dr, Fort Davis, TX 79734
10. Caprock Canyons State Park
Caprock Canyons State Park is, as you might be able to guess, home to the only wild bison herd in the entire state of Texas. The canyon walls create a remote habitat that protects wildlife from the outside world and also keeps the light pollution of nearby cities from blocking out the stars. Because of that, this is an excellent place to see constellations while also enjoying the beauty of nature.
Where: 850 Caprock Canyon Park Road, Quitaque, TX 79255
Dark Sky Parks And Sanctuaries In Texas
Dark Sky Parks:
- Big Bend National Park
- Big Bend Ranch State Park
- Copper Breaks State Park
- Enchanted Rock State Park
- South Llano River State Park
Dark Sky Sanctuaries:
Dark Sky Communities:
If you like being out in nature but want to stay closer to home, check out our list of the Top 10 Lakes in the Houston Area.
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