In the vibrant city of Buffalo, New York, urban energy meets the tranquility of nature. This might be surprising, as the city is better known for sports teams and spicy finger food. Nevertheless, like all cities, Buffalo has some great green spaces – and some good spots to enjoy the night sky, if that’s your preferred way of enjoying the Great Outdoors. (Which I’m guessing is the case if you ended up on this post!)
Stargazing in Buffalo provides a unique opportunity to connect with the mysteries of the universe, as you venture beyond the city’s bright lights to discover serene parks, observatories, and natural sanctuaries that serve as gateways to the cosmos.
If you’re passing through or call the city home, you might not know the best spots to go stargazing in Buffalo. Below, you’ll find some of the best, including those further afield if you have time for an overnight trip – and one of the darkest spots on the Eastern Seaboard.
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Ho-de-no-sau-nee-ga (Haudenosaunee) and Wenrohronon peoples, among others. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.
Stargazing Spots in Buffalo
Big cities pose quite a challenge to stargazers who chase bright stars and dark skies. And Buffalo is no exception. Don’t despair just yet. Here’s a great place to go stargazing in Buffalo that won’t disappoint.
Penn Dixie Site
The Penn Dixie Site isn’t just for dinosaur lovers. Located just south of Buffalo, it’s an excellent location for stargazing. The site offers unobstructed views of the sky and less light-polluted skies, despite its closeness to the city, making it perfect for observing stars and planets. In addition to stargazing, the site offers educational programs, fossil hunting, and other outdoor activities you can enjoy with the little ones during the day.
Stargazing Spots within 1 Hour of Buffalo
If you’re up for a little road trip during your weekend, there are great places where you can see the stars! Here are eight great stargazing spots within 1 hour of Buffalo
Beaver Meadow Audubon Center
Located in North Java, Beaver Meadow Audubon Center is probably the most “fairy-like” spot for stargazing in Buffalo.
As the name suggests, it’s a gorgeous meadow full of milkweed and is full of beautiful butterflies. The best trait for stargazers is the location. The nature park is centered around swamp lands, so you can expect a lot less light pollution here.
Also, the trails are open 24/7, meaning you can access and leave the property at any time. Make sure you check out the viewing nights hosted by the Buffalo Astronomical Association here to join them!
Carlton Hill Multiuse Area
The Carlton Hill Multiuse Area, located in Albion, is a popular destination for stargazers. It governs 2,500 acres of hardwood forest, open fields, and towering conifer trees that do their best effort to keep the sky lights at bay. Find the best spots for stargazing on the hills overlooking the landscape or the nearby creek, which provides a beautiful reflection of the stars.
Chestnut Ridge Park
Chestnut Ridge Park has a reputation as one of the top Buffalo stargazing places. Considered by many as the best park in Western New York, stargazers will find everything they need for a successful session under the stars: solitude, quietness, and open fields with unobstructed views of the sky. Head over to the lake to watch the sunset and then stay for a magnificent starry show.
Eighteenmile Creek County Park
Eighteenmile Creek County Park attracts rafting lovers from all over New York. But it holds a great surprise for stargazers as well. The undeveloped park has several trails and picnic areas that offer unobstructed views of the night sky. Bear in mind that the park is just three miles from Hamburg, so you’ll still find a lot of glare.
Fort Niagara State Park
Fort Niagara State Park in Youngstown is an excellent location for stargazing. The park has a beautiful view of Lake Ontario – you’ll be mesmerized by the sheer size of Lake Ontario, even though it’s the smallest of the Great Lakes.
Take a walk along the shoreline and set up your telescope in one of the beautiful beaches with views of the lake. You couldn’t ask for a more stunning backdrop for observing the stars.
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge
Located in Basom, Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge is one of the best Buffalo stargazing spots. The refuge sits just south of Medina and spans over 10,000 acres. You can rest assured there’s plenty of places to spread out and experience all the nature and wildlife.
Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge puts a lot of effort into preserving the area’s wildlife. And this can be noticed in the sky’s quality, too. Explore the paths down to water at the main visitor center building to find a suitable stargazing spot.
Olcott is a small hamlet of Newfane, but most people call it Olcott Beach. It is another excellent alternative for those who’d like a scenic view of the skies. The town is located on the shores of Lake Ontario and has some of the best views. To make it even more appealing for astrophotographers, there’s also the Olcott Beach Lighthouse, a tiny lighthouse located at the end of Olcott Pier.
Anyone who lives in Gowanda loves Zoar Valley. And for good reason. This place is a nature lover’s paradise. Every inch of it is covered by sheer cliffs, deep gorges, flowing waterfalls, and dense forests.
You’ll find spectacular vistas on the trails overlooking the gorge. But, please, always follow the Valentine Flats Trail and Forty Road parking lot to access the gorge and creek safely. Things can get quite slippery and cause unwanted accidents.
Stargazing Spots within 2.5 Hours of Buffalo
Time for the cream of the crop; below I’ve compiled some of the best places to see the stars that are within just 2.5 hours of Buffalo.
Allegany State Park
Ask local stargazers where to go stargazing in Buffalo and they answer Allegany State Park right away. The park sits under some of the darkest skies you can find in New York.
You’ll find the best spots in Stone Tower or on the southern end of the park near Quaker Lake – rumor has it you can see the Milky Way on clear nights from here. Bear in mind that the park is open until dusk, so you’ll have to book a cabin or campsite to spend the night here.
Golden Hill State Park
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, Golden Hill State Park is a beautiful location for stargazing. The park offers stunning views of the night sky, with very little light pollution to interfere with your viewing experience.
You can set up your telescopes on the beach to enjoy views of the stars over the lake. Oh, and don’t rule out spending the night here. The park has pretty interesting accommodation alternatives, like a yurt or even a haunted lighthouse!
Letchworth State Park
Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is another popular Buffalo stargazing destination. The park has some of the darkest skies in the state.
But, if you ask me, I’d say it’s worth spending a whole day here. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities during the day, with the park’s waterfalls, hiking trails, and lush forests. When the night comes, find a spot in its 14,427 acres and prepare to watch the show above your head.
Cherry Springs State Park
Cherry Springs State Park is nothing less than the “darkest place on the east coast,” and is beloved by people throughout the region who love stargazing. Your eyes will be in for a starry treat!
The park is nestled in the woods of northern Pennsylvania. Thanks to the lack of light pollution, you’ll be able to enjoy 10x the amount of stars that are visible over Buffalo, which is great news for those who don’t like camping! The park is open 24 hours a day for exploring – but it really shines at night (pun intended!).
Have any questions about these spots for going stargazing in Buffalo, or the surrounding region? Let me know in the comments below!