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.

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.

2018 Programs

May 5, 10pm Mid-Season Birding Hike. Hike a section of the Sunset Coast Birding Trail following black-throated green warblers, the Northern Parula, bald eagles, osprey, and more

May 12, 8:30pm Cosmic Gizmos and Gadgets, Celebrate the Dark Sky Park's Anniversary. Hobbyists, professionals, and enthusiasts gather to talk about all the latest and greatest in the research and technology of the night. Come learn about which are the best gizmos and gadgets for navigating, learning about, and photographing the night sky.

June 13, 9pm Seeing in the Dark. Gather under the stars with a special guest that will look at the latest, leading thoughts in astronomy, by starlight.

June 18, 9pm Crescent Moon Monday. With Norbert Vance, Professor of Astronomy at EMU, who will share how the Moon got those big gray splotches, and the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission, among other amazing Moon stories.

June 21, 4pm A Celebration of Native American Seasonal Traditions. The Sun reaches its highest hour, called its Solstice, at dawn on June 21st, and then appears to rest for several days before beginning the long trek back south along the horizon, toward its Winter Solstice moment. A celebration the food, ceremony, and tradition of the people native to the region where Headlands Dark Sky Park is located.

July 28, 10pm This version of hide and seek will take place throughout the 600-acre wood and two miles of shoreline at Headlands Dark Sky Park featuring new geocaches published only during the event.

August 4, 2pm Summer Fun Run. A run through the flora and fauna of the nearly 600 acres of the Headlands Dark Sky Park.

August 9-11 Northern Michigan Astronomy Club Star Party. Join enthusiasts, hobbyists, and professionals in gazing deeply into the sky.

August 11, 8pm Lights Out Challenge For Perseid Meteor Shower. A challenge for communities around Northern Michigan to a friendly competition to see who can achieve greatest darkness as the Perseid Meteor shower comes to its’ peak activity.

August 13, 8pm Crescent Moon Monday. The place to see this spectacular moon is the Dark Sky Park.

September 22, 7pm Harvest Moon Dance. Celebrate the solstice and changing season.

October 20, 7:30pm Orionid Meteor Shower.

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

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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: 12-18-2018 11:58 AM ID: 857