Your guide to the best stargazing spots at WV State Parks

Escape the city lights and take in Almost Heaven night sky views.

Surrounded by open wilderness and rugged mountain beauty, West Virginia’s state parks has some of the best stargazing spots you can find on the east coast. If you want to see stars or even the Milky Way’s galactic core light up the night sky, you have to go somewhere really dark, away from the light pollution of major cities and suburban areas. And West Virginia’s state parks are just the place you want to be!

Whether you’re a star enthusiast or enjoy taking photographs of the night sky, here’s some of West Virginia State Parks’ best stargazing spots. Plan a trip and see them all!

Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park is known for its cascading waterfalls, but this park has some of the darkest and most impressive night skies in the state. The surrounding area’s sparse population means you’ll have great views of the starry sky and the park’s cozy lodge and cabins mean you’ll have an inviting place to spend the night.

Set your sights to the heavens from one of the viewing platforms overlooking Blackwater Falls or take a short hike out to Lindy Point for an awesome display. But remember to be safe when hiking at night. Trails are not lit, so bring a small flashlight to to light your path. Once you arrive to your destination and find a safe spot to watch the stars, turn off your light, let your eyes adjust for several minutes and then take it all in. We promise you won’t be disappointed!

If you’d like to enjoy the stars with other star enthusiasts, Blackwater Falls is home to one of the state’s biggest stargazing parties during the Kanawha Valley Astronomical Society’s Astronomy Weekend on Sept. 26-28.

Blackwater Falls also is a great spot to watch the Perseids Meteor shower. This annual spectacle in August is one of the brightest meteor showers of the year. They occur every year between July 17 and August 24 and tend to peak around August 9-13. Plan to watch them over a weekend, or stop by for a watch party.

“The Falls are great, but if you camp here — the star gazing is better! A great place to bring a blanket or some chairs for stargazing as this place is low on light pollution and high enough to cut through several layers of atmosphere (3,500 ft elevation, there is about 10-12% less atmosphere to block the stars). You can see the glow of our own Milky Way on a clear night!”

— SnowboardLaws. TripAdvisor Review from savage, Maryland

Lost River

As one of West Virginia’s more remote state parks, Lost River State Park offers a place of solitude where you can enjoy the night sky without the distractions of your busy city life. The Cranny Crow overlook might be one of the best stargazing spots in West Virginia simply for the fact that you can see millions of stars and the Milky Way rise over five counties in two states. Not many stargazing spots has a view like that!

Lost River is an ideal stargazing spot if you live near the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. metro area. About two hours away, you can make the trip after a busy week and arrive just in time to find a spot to watch the night sky. But you’ll want to stay the night and enjoy those same views in the morning, so make sure you book a cabin before you come!

“Booked this park to see the Milky Way as my daughter had never had a chance to see it, living on the East Coast her entire life.”

— fjparol, TripAdvisor Reviewer from Centreville, Virginia

Watoga

Even on a cloudy night, you can see some of the most brilliant stars at Watoga State Park. This park is located in the secluded mountains of Pocahontas County, one of the least populated areas in the state. Because there are so few people living in the area, there is very little light pollution around Watoga, which means perfect stargazing conditions!

Find yourself at Watoga on a clear night during a new moon and you’ll be able to see stars for miles. Depending on the time of year, you may even be able to see the Milky Way crest over the horizon. For a truly awe-inspiring star gazing experience, head down to Watoga Lake and see the stars reflected on its surface. Did you know Watoga’s name comes from the Cherokee word for starry waters?

When you’re finished watching the stars, Watoga has 34 cabins you can stay in, as well as several campsites. The stars guided our ancestors. Travel back to that simpler time by taking a trip to Watoga this summer!

Photo courtesy of Jesse Thornton, instagram.com/reflectioninapool

Seneca State Forest

Not far from Watoga, you’ll find other incredible stargazing spots at Seneca State Forest. The Thorny Mountain Fire Tower is a popular location to see stars. The 65-foot tower gives you an unobstructed views of the night sky above the surrounding forest and mountains, so bring a blanket and be ready to watch the stars all night, because you won’t want to leave this view behind. And did you know you can even spend the night at the top of the tower? This is truly a one-of-a-kind stargazing experience.

Many of West Virginia’s other state parks and forests have dark skies where you can watch the night sky. Next time you plan a trip to your favorite park, include some time for stargazing. You won’t regret it!

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