Louisiana is known for many things: the beauty of the bayou (for which it takes its nickname), great food, unique culture, and – perhaps surprisingly – stargazing. Despite the humidity of the Southern U.S., there are some great spots for stargazing in Louisiana.
Each trip I’ve taken to Louisiana has been unique – including a special tour of NASA’s Michoud rocket factory –, and I’ll be the first to admit that New Orleans is one of the more light-polluted cities you can stargaze from. For that reason, you need to be willing to leave the city and escape the light dome to really appreciate the night sky.
If you’re planning a trip to Louisiana and want to see the night sky, or you just call the Bayou State home and are looking for a new outdoor activity, this list of stargazing spots in Louisiana will help. Below you’ll find fantastic state parks, wildlife refuges, and even a national forest where the stars shine brightly overhead and you can get out there to enjoy them.
Bogue Chitto River Park
Located in Franklinton, Bogue Chitto River Park is a newer state park, offering a variety of activities during the day. There’s horseback riding, walking trails, bike trails, playgrounds, a small waterpark, fishing, canoeing, and picnic spots.
However, once the sun goes down, stargazers will find dark spots near the park’s fishing ponds to continue the fun. If you’d like to spend the night, there are some quiet, private tent sites in the Bottomland (BL) campground. A little piece of advice, this area can flood so check the park’s Facebook page before leaving your house.
Black Bayou National Wildlife Refuge
North Monroe is home to Black Bayou Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a 5300-acre area providing some of the best stargazing in Louisiana. The refuge remains untouched, with very little influence of human beings on the ecosystem.
Before sunset, Black Bayou Lake is an ideal place to discover the stereotypical Louisiana of swamps and bald cypress wildlife. Bottomland hardwood forests provide habitat for species like waterfowls and prothonotary warblers, and cypress swamps shelter broad-banded water snakes and a multitude of frogs. The 1600-acre lake is home to the iconic American alligator, anhingas, and great blue herons, so be aware if you’re out at night.
Chemin-À-Haut State Park
Known for its funny name, Chemin-À-Haut (Way to the Top) State Park is a 503-acre site located in northern Morehouse Parish. Locals describe it as a wonderful and peaceful place to unwind, hike, bike, kayak, camp… basically, just about everything you can imagine.
Chemin-À-Haut is also one of the best places to stargaze in Louisiana. It is isolated from nearly every urban area and every inch of the park is immaculate with no sign of light pollution. Moreover, the park is quite deserted and there’s a very high chance that you’ll be the only one during your visit. Bear in mind the cell service is sketchy here…but really, that’s one of the best things about it.
Cypremort Point State Park
Vermilion Bay residents know that, on a boiling summer day, there’s only one place to go: Cypremort Point State Park. This public recreation area is home to a half-mile-long beach, where people go swimming, kitesurfing, and windsurfing.
The sky here offers all sorts of entertainment as well. Before the night comes, you can enjoy the stunning orange and reddish shades of the sun during sunset. After dark, head to see a blanket of stars covering the sky.
Dewey W. Wills Wildlife Refuge
Dewey W. Wills Wildlife Refuge is known for its fishing and hunting opportunities. But all the beautiful wildlife isn’t the only sight you can enjoy here. Thanks to its size, this 63,901-acre refuge is also home to some of the best dark spots for stargazing in Louisiana. There are some nice hidden spots along the lake to set up your telescope, but be aware of wildlife in the area when you set up. Arrive early to witness the sun covering the scenery and lake with its stunning colors during sunset.
Fontainebleau State Park
If you’re planning a family stargazing trip, Fontainebleau State Park is an absolutely beautiful place to come out to with your partner and kids. This park is in Mandeville, only a short 45-minute drive from downtown New Orleans. The main attraction of this park is the beach area.
However, stargazers will find the best viewing prospects on Lake Pontchartrain; the lakefront is filled with dark spots to gaze up at the stars.
Highland Road Community Park
Highland Road Community Park is a 144.4-acre public park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is a spacious park with sloping, smallish hills, Frisbee areas, a splash park, tennis courts, always clean and well-stocked bathrooms, and much more. It’s common to see residents coming running on its trails and using the outside bars for pull-ups. While it’s a popular park, it is big enough so that everyone has plenty of space to enjoy their own company, or socialize if they choose to as well.
Though the park closes officially at sunset, you can still use the public space as long as you take care to make it clear you’re stargazing and bring red flashlights to keep yourself safe and obvious.
Kisatchie National Forest
Kisatchie National Forest is, without a doubt, the best spot for stargazing in Louisiana. The park sits under some of the darkest skies in the state. You can easily see the Milky Way spread all over the sky, so Kisatchie National Forest is also popular among astrophotographers. So, if you’re after that perfect Milky Way shot, this is the place to get it.
Due to the park’s location, you’ll have a clear view of the southeastern sky. Also, try to choose a spot with a higher elevation to ensure the tall pines of the forest don’t hinder your view.
Lake Fausse Pointe State Park
There’s a complete lack of any cellular signal at Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. While that might be annoying for those of us addicted to our phones, it means one important thing for stargazers: the park is completely isolated from urban centers and its pesky lights.
Lake Fausse Pointe State Park is a best fit for stargazers that prefer solitary places for their viewing sessions. Also, the scenery is just stunning over here. Even south Louisiana residents, who are accustomed to seeing the bayou, agree that the trees are gorgeous.
North Toledo Bend State Park
North Toledo Bend State Park is popular among locals who love to go camping during the winter season. At 900 acres, the park is one of two Louisiana State Parks located on the shores of Toledo Bend Reservoir. It offers campgrounds, cabins, and group houses. So if you’re thinking of going stargazing with a group of friends, this state park has you covered.
There’s no cell service with T-Mobile and no Wi-Fi in the campgrounds. However, it is available in cabins, which are a great place to base yourself for a Louisiana stargazing trip. Go near the lake to see the stars light up the sky.
South Toledo Bend State Park
South Toledo Bend State Park is the other of the two Louisiana State Parks located on the shores of Toledo Bend Reservoir. The park opened to the public in 2004, and since then it has attracted locals and visitors with its fun-filled activities. There’s mountain biking, hiking, birding, fishing, and, of course, stargazing.
The fishing piers are good spots to set up your telescope, although recurrent visitors recommend arriving early and exploring the area to find a spot that suits your needs away from others.
Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge
If you love stargazing and wildlife, Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge is the place where you want to be. This is one of the best places to see Louisiana wildlife, and for visitors to the State, it has the added bonus of fast access via the I-20.
The park has the Greenlea Bend Wildlife Drive, which happens to pass by some decent stargazing spots; you can find a safe spot and pull over. There’s the Hollow Cypress Boardwalk leading to the Observation Tower as well. Last but not least, you can also ask the refuge’s staff to suggest dark places you can access.
Know of any other great spots for stargazing in Louisiana, or have questions about these ones? Let me know in the comments below.