Stargazing in West Virginia State Parks

“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight …”

What better place to wish upon a star than at a West Virginia state park or forest? These parks offer boundless natural beauty, even long after the sun sets, and the moon rises high over the Appalachian hills.

These parks offer great viewing areas for your stargazing. Overnight accommodations range from modern lodge rooms to cozy cabins and campsites for tents and RVs, but if you are not an overnight guest and will be out after dark, please notify the park office in advance. Bring a flashlight for use while walking to your destination and avoid standing near ledges or other drop-offs after dark. Are you ready? Let’s go stargazing!

Dark Sky Parks

Blackwater Falls State Park may be best known for its magnificent waterfalls and winter sports, but one of its standout attributes is only visible at night. Set high in the Allegheny Mountains, the park is far from any city lights that would dim its night sky, making it an ideal place for stargazing. In fact, the park is working on obtaining a Dark Sky certification, which is expected to draw astronomy enthusiasts and other nature lovers. The park hosts stargazing events throughout the year, including a Perseids Meteor Watch and an annual Astronomy Weekend. If you wish to survey the night skies on your own, the Harold Walters Nature Center is a great place to start. You can pick up a pass for after-hours viewing at the nature center.

Deep in the remote mountains of Pocahontas County, Watoga State Park also is working on obtaining a Dark Sky certification. The overlook at the Ann Bailey Trailhead offers a spectacular view—not only of the valley below, but the distant mountains and endless sky. It’s advised that stargazers should inform park headquarters when visiting after 10 p.m.

Although it is not a Dark Sky certified park, Cass Scenic Railroad State Park, located near the National Radio Quiet Zone and Green Bank Observatory, is perfect for taking in stars from every angle. The clear night sky here is arguably one of the most jaw-dropping spots in Almost Heaven.

Sleep in the Clouds

How would you like to have your own private viewing area for a truly cosmic experience? Seneca State Forest offers overnight lodging in its Thorny Mountain Fire Tower. The 65-foot tower provides stunning 360-degree views of the forest and unobstructed views of the night sky. The rustic lodging is equipped with cots so all you need is your sleeping bag (and maybe some binoculars and a camera!).

Star Parties

Beech Fork State Park hosts stargazing events at different times throughout the summer. A Perseid Meteor Shower viewing is scheduled for Aug. 13, 2021 and other upcoming activities will be posted online. Viewings are held in the day use area near the swimming pool, so as not to disturb overnight guests.

The best sky viewing area at North Bend State Park are the meadows at the Cokeley Campgrounds. The park typically posts a summer viewing schedule, which can be found online.

Chief Logan State Park regularly hosts a telescope program on Saturday nights at least once a month.

Twin Falls Resort State Park has two ideal locations for stargazing, one at the ballfield and another at the old farm on Still Run Ridge trail. The park has hosted Star Parties for the New Era Astronomy Club. Check WVstateparks.com for upcoming events at this park and others.

Grab your stargazing equipment and start planning your Almost Heaven getaway today!

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