Featured Photo by Explore Minnesota

Road trip! Hit the open road and head towards something fun and exciting to do for a weekend getaway or vacation out of the La Crosse area. Gas up the car, grab a snack for the drive, and check out this weekend getaway idea within driving distance!

Stargazing In Minnesota: The Best Locations For True Dark Skies & Celestial Wonders

Minnesota is one state that is home to some of the few true dark skies left in the US. This makes it a must-visit destination for stargazers, astrology fanatics, and those who simply wish to see an untarnished view of the night sky. With thousands of glimmering stars, visible constellations, and stunning views of the northern lights, these Minnesota destinations are perfect for seeing crisp, clear starry night skies. Far away from the light pollution that surrounds cities, these destinations, which include Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, are a great place to start for a star filled, dark skies Minnesota vacation.

family exploring MN waterfall
Officially certified as an International Dark Sky Park, Voyageurs National Park in northern Minnesota is one of the best locations in the state for exceptionally high quality dark night skies and stargazing. Stretching 218,000 acres, more than a third of the park is covered in water, making the various waterways excellent locations for primetime night sky viewing. The unpolluted skies even allow visitors to see impressive meteor showers and stunning northern lights shows, depending on the season when they are visiting. Rent a houseboat or take a night time boat tour with a park ranger during your visit for exceptional views of Voyageurs’ beautiful dark skies and stargazing opportunities.
Situated on Eagle Lake, Baylor Regional Park in Carver County is a a great stargazing option that is closer to the Twin Cities. With a developed campground and various facilities, recreational and otherwise, visitors can stay at Baylor Regional Park and explore all it has to offer, including the Eagle Lake Observatory. The Eagle Lake Observatory consists of both the Onan Observatory and the Sylvia A. Casby Observatory and is operated by the Minnesota Astronomical Society. Throughout the year there are various events held at the observatory including Star Parties and the Annual Camping with the Stars event, which include speakers, night-sky tours, camping, & recreational activities.
Pipestone Falls

Photo by Casey Horner

The Northwest Angle, the northernmost point in the continental US, is also recognized as a dark skies destination due to its location and remoteness. Separated from the rest of the state by Lake of the Woods, the Northwest Angle is a mostly undeveloped area with pristine wilderness and peacefulness, making it a paradise for outdoor adventures, especially stargazing. Due to the lack of light pollution, the dark skies in the Northwest Angle are some of the clearest in all of the state, giving stargazers the experience of a lifetime. A great place to see some of the best views is along the Waters of the Dancing Sky Scenic Byway (Highway 11). Visitors to the byway are offered a panoramic view of the Northern Lights on nearly every clear evening.
Niagara Cave
The Superior National Forest is full of recreational activities all year long, including many locations for viewing crisp, dark skies filled with shining stars. One popular location is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota’s first dark sky sanctuary and the most ideal location for viewing the northern lights. However, most areas in the Boundary Waters are accessible primarily by canoe. For more accessible options, visitors can stop at various communities around Superior National Forest, such as Tofte, Ely, and Grand Marais. The view of the skies changes based on season, but throughout the year stargazers can spot The Milky Way, The International Space Station, meteors, constellations, planets, and the northern lights.
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For personalized assistance, you may contact our Travel Counselors at explore@state.mn.us, or 1-888-VISITMN (1-888-847-4866).

Explore Minnesota