Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, shines brightly under a constellation-filled sky. The North Star State (as it’s also known) offers endless opportunities for stargazing, with its vast, unobstructed horizons and deep wilderness areas far removed from the glare of city lights. Each clear night reveals a patchwork of stars and celestial bodies, from constellations that trace stories in the sky to the shimmering ribbon of the Milky Way.
Whether you’re a seasoned astronomer or a curious observer, the celestial spectacle of Minnesota’s night sky can leave you awestruck. Below, you’ll find some of the best locations for stargazing in Minnesota from areas just beyond the reach of city lights to the far northern reaches along the Canadian border. Grab your telescope, pack a warm blanket, and prepare for a journey into the cosmic frontier!
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ, Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, and Bdewakantuwan (Mdewakanton) 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.
Map of Where to Go Stargazing in Minnesota
Baylor Regional Park
For those chasing the Northern lights, there’s no better place for stargazing in Minnesota than Baylor Regional Park. This park is literally designed for stargazing. It has an observatory, Eagle Lake Observatory, and optimal lighting for seeing meteor showers and stars.
The observatory hosts stargazing events on Saturday nights if the skies are not cloudy. Always head to their website to confirm the event’s date and time. Besides being a celestial wonderland when the sun dips below the horizon, there’s plenty to enjoy during the day. Wooded trails are nice, a playground, campgrounds, a beach, and much more.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is where Minnesotans go to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Located in the remote reaches of Minnesota, this wilderness area offers a rare opportunity to experience stargazing. It has absolutely gorgeous scenery. So untouched and quiet. There are endless serene lakes, trees, rivers, hills, hikes…and night views.
Depending on the time you visit, you can catch tons of wildlife, too: bald eagles, beavers, and a small chipmunks visit campsites from time to time.
Cherry Grove Observatory
For astronomy enthusiasts seeking a deeper understanding of the cosmos, Cherry Grove Observatory is a great Minnesota stargazing destination. The observatory has a privileged location in southeastern Minnesota, which offers great views of the east, south, and western skies. It is run by the Minnesota Astronomical Society and they host regular stargazing events.
Cherry Grove Star Parties are held on Friday nights and Saturday nights. They have a calendar to share the dates, though they’re usually the first or second weekend of the month.
Metcalf Observing Field
The Metcalf Observing Field is a good place for stargazing in Minnesota if you live near Afton. It’s tucked away on the east side of the metropolitan area. Since it’s pretty close to urban communities – the Twin Cities –, it doesn’t have the best skies. Still, it will do a better job than your backyard. And the sprawling field and rolling hills of Belwin Conservancy help to mitigate the pesky lights.
You can join one of the Minnesota Astronomical Society’s stargazing events here throughout the year. As always, check their website to learn about the dates.
Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area
Nestled along the scenic Minnesota River, the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area offers a picturesque setting for stargazing enthusiasts. The area spreads over 5,490 acres, which includes a very scenic portion of the Minnesota River. There are also tons of trails and an open grassy area with a few picnic tables.
When the night comes, you can set camp in one of the campgrounds and wander at the stars from the comfort of your tent.
If astronomy and geography are passions you share, the Northwest Angle is a great opportunity to combine both.
The Northwest Angle is an isolated inlet and the most northerly point of the contiguous US. The land area of the Angle is separated from the rest of Minnesota by Lake of the Woods but shares a land border with Canada. It is home to just 119 residents, which should tell you something about the amazing skies it sits under. Add to that the remote location and you get one of the best Minnesota stargazing destinations.
Superior National Forest
Speaking of remoteness, the Superior National Forest is a fantastic place for those who want complete solitude to pursue their astronomic endeavors. You can literally go a week without seeing another person. The wilderness stretches across northern Minnesota, offering stargazers a breathtaking canvas to observe the cosmos.
Venture deep into the forest and you’ll find countless lakes, meandering rivers, and towering trees that create a serene atmosphere, perfect for stargazing. Perhaps, you can even catch a glimpse of the northern lights!
Universe in the Park
Universe in the Park is an amazing traveling stargazing event organized by the University of Minnesota’s astronomy department. It combines education, entertainment, and celestial observation. The concept behind Universe in the Park is to bring astronomy to as many people as possible.
How do they do it? They set up telescopes, presentations, and engaging activities that cater to stargazers of all ages. Passionate astronomers guide the sessions, unraveling the mysteries of the cosmos, pointing out constellations, and sharing fascinating insights about distant galaxies and planetary systems.
Voyageurs National Park
I’ll round off the list with one of the best places for stargazing in Minnesota, Voyageurs National Park. This park is the definition of a stargazer’s paradise. Located in northern Minnesota, Voyageurs is an International Dark Sky Park and it’s brimming with stunning locations to see the stars. The Voyageurs Forest Overlook parking area, Kettle Falls Dam, and the Beaver Pond Overlook are a few good options to set up your telescope. But, to be honest, any clearing, lakeshore, or dock in the park with no nearby lights will have great views of the night sky.
This is just a sampling of the many dark sky places you can find across the Land of 10,000 Lakes… there are many more, and perhaps you know of some! Have any questions about these spots for stargazing in Minnesota, or do you know of others I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments below!