International Dark Sky Park


The Headlands, a beautiful 550-acre park just west of Mackinaw City, is one of six International Dark Sky Parks in the U.S. and one of nine in the world. Named a Dark Sky Park in May 2011, this designation means that The Headlands is a spectacular place for sky and star gazing.

A Dark Sky Park has minimal light interruption from nearby cities or places making it a perfect place to view the skies at night. The approval required a lengthy process by Emmet County, who owns and operates the park. As an official Dark Sky Park, the only one in Michigan, The Headlands must be open at all times and include an educational component about astronomy and maintain park lighting that is minimizes interference with star gazing.

The nation's other Dark Sky Parks are in Utah, Pennsylvania, Washington, Ohio, and New Mexico.

The Headlands contains two miles of pristine Lake Michigan beaches, rare and endangered plant life, and wild life including bald eagles and osprey. Trails through the park offer the opportunity to view the plant and wild life.

The park provides lodging in the Beach House that houses up to 18 people. In 2011,, a national wedding source, named The Headlands a site for the Best of Weddings.

Throughout the year, the Headlands Dark Sky Park hosts night time events such as a Halloween event as well as those to celebrate a lunar eclipse or meteor shower. The Headlands Dark Sky Park already is drawing visitors from around the U.S. who travel to Northern Michigan to observe the sky in such a perfect setting.

2014 Programs

September 20, 7pm Waning Moon Stargaze and Aurora Talk. There is evidence that the aurora are more frequent at the times of Equinox each year. Join us with aurora experts and photographers to celebrate this most popular of celestial events, on the eve of Autumnal Equinox.

October 8, 5:30-7:45am Field Trip to the Moon Part III. Timed to the peak of the Total Lunar Eclipse,this eclipse is the second in the series of four Total Lunar Eclipses making up the tetrad of eclipses that is occurring from April 2014-September 2015, and will be in phase as it is setting for Northern Michigan observers. Gather at the Headlands Guest House area to watch the eclipsing Moon over Lake Michigan with telescopes, binoculars, art supplies and light refreshment on hand for this event, which promises to be a great photographic opportunity, with the drama of Full Moon setting into Earth's shadow while lowering into the Lake.

October 17, 8pm The Hero's Meteor Shower. Orion was a great hunter to the Ancient Greeks; Osiris to the Ancient Eqyptians; and in the world of Fairy Tale, he is the giant whom Jack encounters once he trades his cow for a handful of beans.

October 25, 8pm Sixth Annual Headlands Challenge. Each year, we park our cars, turn off the lights and head off into the dark to meet 'Destiny' during the Headlands Challenge and Triple Fright Night in Northern Emmet County. Walk the one-mile, dimly-lighted path through this old-growth forest. Also participating are McGulpin Point Lighthouse and Mackinaw's Heritage Village.

November 15, 8pm The Lion's Roar - Meteor Showers and More. A meteor shower takes its name from the constellation in front of which the radiant (or center point) appears, and is caused by Earth passing through the trail left by comets as they speed through our system. Tonight we meet the parent comets of the popular showers.

November 22, 7pm Thanksgiving New Moon Stargaze. Tonight we will explore the winter constellations, hear their tales and make ready for the best stargazing tips and gear for the end of the year.

December 20, 6:30pm As the Ursid Meteor Shower peaks overhead and the constellation Perseus comes to its highest place in its nighttime trek, cultures around the world celebrate the standing still of the sun with its mysteries. Tonight we will count shooting stars as we consider seasonal traditions that are rooted in the stars overhead.

For more information:
Headlands Dark Sky Park
7725 E Wilderness Park Dr
Mackinaw City, MI 49701

For more activities & attractions, check out these additional links for Things to Do in Northern Michigan:

Harbor Springs, Michigan -- Harbor Springs is the place to try new things! Rent a bike or a kayak, go snow tubing, attend a concert or an art fair, or play a round of golf with friends.
Petoskey -- There's so much to do in Petoskey from the Bear River Valley Recreation Area, to Petoskey State Park, to biking, golfing, hiking, and more.
Charlevoix, Michigan -- Visiting Charlevoix in Northern Michigan is a fun-filled vacation with great beaches, boating, skiing, fishing and year 'round family fun.
Things to Do in Boyne City, Michigan -- Nothing is quite like Boyne City in Northern Michigan with camping, boating, skiing, year 'round outdoor activities, and of course, the morel mushroom!
Lots of Activities in Mackinaw City, Michigan -- Explore Mackinaw City in Northern Michigan for history, the International Dark Sky Park, and outdoor activities.
Mackinac Island -- Take a step back in time and find lots of things to do when you visit Mackinac Island by horseback or bike--no cars allowed!
Northern Michigan Activities & Things to Do -- Northern Michigan offers many fun things to do for the entire family whatever the season, whatever the reason!
Last Updated: 01-01-2015 08:02 AM ID: 857