In the heart of the Bluegrass State, where rolling hills and picturesque landscapes abound, the wonders of the cosmos stretch out above, inviting curious minds to delve into the mysteries of the night sky. Kentucky, with its vast expanses of rural charm and natural beauty, provides the perfect canvas for a captivating celestial showcase.
From tranquil state parks to hidden observatories, Kentucky offers a multitude of stargazing destinations that are sure to ignite your imagination and spark your curiosity. Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, there are some incredible places for stargazing in Kentucky that you can visit whether you just love stargazing or if there’s an astronomical event happening soon.
Ready to embark on a journey through the landscapes of Kentucky to marvel at the wonders of the night sky. Let’s go!
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the ᏣᎳᎫᏪᏘᏱ Tsalaguwetiyi (Cherokee, East), S’atsoyaha (Yuchi), Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), and Adena Culture 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.
This post was originally published in August 2023, and was updated most recently in January 2024.
Map of Where to Go Stargazing in Kentucky
By popular request, I’ve added a map to this post to help make it easier to understand where each of the best spots for stargazing in Kentucky can be found. I hope this helps you plan the ultimate stargazing trip!
Bernheim Forest Arboretum
Bernheim Forest Arboretum is one of the best places to go stargazing in Kentucky. Located just south of Louisville, this natural area boasts 16,000 acres of forest, meadows, and wetlands. It’s also one of the few places in Kentucky where you can see the Milky Way in all its glory.
Want to know a little secret? Olmsted Ponds bridge is a prime spot to get a view of the spiral galaxy. If you prefer some company, you can also take part in the park’s guided night hikes or stargazing events.
Blackacre State Nature Preserve
Another great spot is the Blackacre State Nature Preserve, located just outside of Louisville. This non-profit organization covers 271 acres filled with wooded trails, fields, and ponds that make for a great stargazing base. It’s a great place to come if you have kids during the day.
Be sure to bring carrots and apples to feed the animals; there are horses, donkeys, goats, sheep, cows, and more!
Cave Run Lake
If you’re looking for a place to camp and stargaze, then Cave Run Lake might be just the spot. Nestled in the Daniel Boone National Forest, this 8,000-acre lake is surrounded by miles of forested hills and cliffs. There are several campgrounds in the area, making it a great place to spend a weekend under the stars. Also, the lake provides a picturesque setting for photos reflecting the starry sky in its waters.
Clark State Forest (IN)
For those looking to explore stargazing locations beyond the borders of Kentucky, nearby Clark State Forest in Indiana is a great option. This 1,000-acre state forest offers hiking trails and scenic overlooks, as well as opportunities for primitive camping and stargazing. The only drawback is that the park is right off of I-65 and you may hear the nearby traffic.
Daniel Boone National Forest
Back to the Bluegrass State, the rest of Daniel Boone National Forest is home to many other fantastic Kentucky stargazing spots. The park sprawls over 700,000 acres of land, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from to set up your telescope. The forest is home to several campgrounds, as well as a number of hiking trails that offer stunning views of the night sky. If you want to spend the day, rock climbing and kayaking are other big hits!
Lago Linda Hideaway
Lago Linda Hideaway in Beattyville offers a truly unique Kentucky stargazing experience. This eco-resort is nestled in the heart of the Red River Gorge and offers a variety of lodging options.
While the area is known for its climbing opportunities, it also makes a great place for stargazing, thanks to the lack of light pollution. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and reconnect with the beauty of the night sky, Lago Linda Hideaway may be a good option.
Long Run Park
Another great option is Long Run Park, located just outside of Louisville. This 1,200-acre park is popular among kayakers as it houses the perfect practice lake. Despite being an urban park, it’s quiet and large enough that everyone has ample space to enjoy nature.
Arrive a bit early to explore the area, but the lakeshore and hiking trails are a great place to set up a telescope and spend an evening under the stars.
Mammoth Cave National Park
If you’re willing to venture a little further south, Mammoth Cave National Park is another great spot for stargazing in Kentucky. This massive park is home to the world’s longest known cave system, but the park also hides wonders above the ground. It enjoys little light pollution and offers a clear view of the night sky, making it the perfect place to explore the cosmos.
Mount St. Francis (IN)
For yet another option across the border in Indiana, Mount St. Francis is a popular destination for stargazers. Mt. St. Francis is a small center for spirituality located in the eponymous Mt. St. Francis community. Though small, the center features nearly 400 acres of walking trails and paths that sit under ultra-dark skies.
This is the best option for stargazing in Kentucky if what you want is complete solitude. You’ll barely find any other visitors.
The LAS Urban Astronomy Center
The LAS Urban Astronomy Center in Louisville is an excellent Kentucky stargazing spot if you want a more academic experience. This observatory and planetarium is the meeting point of the Louisville Astronomical Society.
It offers a variety of programs and events for stargazers of all ages, including telescope viewing nights, astronomy classes, and more. The best bit about this observatory is that the events cater to everyone, the beginner or an experienced astronomer.
The Parklands of Floyds Fork
Last but not least, the Parklands of Floyds Fork is a 4,000-acre park system also located in Louisville. The property offers several stargazing locations throughout its many parks and trails. There’s no shortage of areas where you can find a quiet spot to set up your telescope and enjoy the stars. If you don’t want to explore, the open lawn with a trail around it offers excellent views of the night sky.
Have any questions about these places for stargazing in Kentucky, or do you know of others I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!