For being called the Show-Me State, a lot of people overlook Missouri. Sure, they might stop and snap a photo of that famous arch, or enjoy a plate of delicious barbecue – but most people either fly-over or drive right through Missouri – and that’s a real shame.
Like many of the Midwest states, Missouri’s heavy agricultural development is actually great for stargazing enthusiasts. While you won’t find the wide open wild spaces of the American West, there are plenty of pockets of darkness above Missouri where you can see the Milky Way, catch a meteor shower, or admire the Moon.
Whether you’re passing through or call it home, you might be curious about where to go stargazing in Missouri. Read on for some of the best spots to stargaze in the Show-Me State – showing off another gorgeous vista that Missouri has to offer.
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), Očhéthi Šakówiŋ, Kaskaskia, and Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo) peoples, among many 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 2022, and was updated most recently in October 2023.
Map of Where to Go Stargazing in Missouri
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 Missouri can be found. I hope this helps you plan the ultimate stargazing trip!
Annie and Abel Van Meter State Park
Located on the Missouri River, Annie and Abel Van Meter State Park is a phenomenal spot for stargazing in Missouri. The park governs over 1,000 acres, offering something for everyone. There are trails, lush forests, freshwater marshes, and camping grounds.
Stargazers will love the park’s quietness and isolation. Since the park is a bit off the beaten track, few people stay here, meaning the place is literally just you. The park also houses places of historical interest, including the Lewis and Clark Expedition trail and Native American sites.
Big Lake State Park
Lake State Park may be small with 407 acres. However, it still offers plenty of recreation activities and, of course, stargazing opportunities. There’s a nice boat launch on the lake, two playgrounds for the children, and a community pool. There’s also a nice campground with fire pits and picnic tables.
Big Lake State Park is busier on weekends, so if you prefer quietness for your stargazing session, try to go on weekdays. You can find promising spots for stargazing near the lake.
Bilby Ranch Lake
If you’re in the northwest part of the state, you’re close to one of top places to stargaze in Missouri, Bilby Ranch Lake. This conservation area sits in the middle of nowhere. There’s no large city or small town around, so the property is under a pristine dark sky.
Note that the property can be accessed on specific days and times. However, the lake is open year-round to the public and features camping sites in case you want to spend the night.
Stargazing in/near St. Louis is no easy feat. Luckily, Broemmelsiek Park is only 40 minutes from downtown St. Louis and is a dream for astronomy enthusiasts. This park features a dedicated area for astronomical viewing.
There are 10 concrete viewing stations, which are open 24 hours and provide electrical service for telescopes requiring power. Moreover, the Astronomical Society of Eastern Missouri (ASEM) hosts free educational stargazing programs and public viewing parties every Friday night at the park.
Danville Conservation Area
Danville Conservation Area is an excellent choice for stargazers who want to get away from civilization when pursuing their astronomical endeavors.
This nature preserve is a heavily wooded area, with very little services and comforts – prepare to have spotty cell phone service. It features primitive campsites only, a winding gravel road, and vault toilets. During the night, the skies are incredibly clean and dark. You can see thousands of stars sweeping across the sky. During the daytime, there are beautiful sights, too. You’ll see a plethora of rabbits, deer, and various other wildlife.
Dr. Edmund Babler Memorial State Park
If you live in St. Louis but can’t afford a long drive to gaze at the stars, Dr. Edmund Babler Memorial State Park offers decent stargazing opportunities. This recreation area is in Wildwood, only 30 miles from downtown St. Louis. White there will be a bit of light pollution, the skies get dark enough to spot celestial bodies.
The St. Louis Astronomical Society hosts viewing nights in the park. Make sure you check their website to know if you can join one.
Echo Bluff State Park
Echo Bluff State Park is only 476 acres, but each nook of the park boasts some of Missouri’s most beautiful landscapes.
Nestled deep in the Ozarks, the park features stunning scenery, with towering bluffs, creeks, and hillsides covered in oak, hickory, and shortleaf pine trees. Stargazers will find the best skies near the primitive campsites. The park’s Bluff Top Pavilion is said to offer good views of the sky as well.
Knob Noster State Park
Located in Johnson County, Knob Noster State Park encompasses 3,934 acres of oak woodland, patches of prairie distributed along the sides of Clearfork Creek.
This peaceful park is nestled in an isolated wooded area. It has numerous spots where stargazers can set up their telescopes and surf the night sky. If you like peace and quiet, try to avoid setting your telescope near camping sites, at least during the summer. There are a ton of RV’s and the cacophony of AC units running can be a distraction. If you like bird watching, this park is home to the nearly endangered nocturnal bird, the whippoorwill.
Locust Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site
Locust Creek Covered Bridge is a pretty special place to go stargazing in Missouri. This historic site is home to one of Missouri’s four historic covered bridges. The area is secluded and pretty charming.
There’s a quarter mile walk from the parking lot through the woods to reach the historic site – perfect to start looking for possible stargazing spots. The wooden bridge is set up high in a small little nook and the surroundings are suitable to set up your telescope on a clear night.
Montauk State Park
Montauk State Park is a peaceful recreation area within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways. For it being a small park, it has a lot to offer. The park features three trails, a public playground, picnic areas and two picnic shelters, and it even has a restaurant.
Stargazers can find plenty of nooks for stargazing next to the Current River. If you are also a fisherman, you will be in paradise! This park has streams galore (Pigeon Creek and the Current River) and a wonderful swamp and lake.
Perryville City Park
Despite being in an urban area, Perryville City Park has skies clear enough for stargazers. The 100.25 acre park is popular among Perryville’s families, who frequent the park to enjoy its grounds and facilities. There’s a gym, swimming pool, golf courses, and indoor track.
The best spots for stargazing are near the Veterans Memorial Field. There’s plenty of open grass areas on that side of the park and it’s conveniently isolated from the facilities.
Prairie State Park
Prairie State Park is one of the most beautiful Missouri stargazing spots. This park preserves much of the 1% of remaining tallgrass prairies in the state. The park’s isolation and the soothing sound of the tallgrass blowing in the wind make it a very good place to unwind and get a clear view of the open sky. Prairie State Park features a small primitive campground (only 4 spots), but there are two concrete pads with a water spigot and bathroom nearby.
Scrivner Conservation Area
A hidden gem in Cole County, Scrivner Conservation Area is a 919-acre site used to be a cattle farm. Today, it offers plenty of fun for outdoor lovers, from camping and hiking to fishing and horseback riding.
The park features the 8.5-mile Moreau Creek trail system, which provides access to most of the area. There’s also Winegar Lake, a nine-acre body of water where locals take their children to learn how to fish. The area is not crowded once the sun sets, leaving stargazers with tons of space to explore the night sky.
Stockton Lake State Park
Stockton Lake State Park is a paradise for fishers, but it can also be one for stargazers. The park features basic and electric campsites for anyone who wants to spend the night. Some campgrounds are set near Stockton Lake, providing beautiful views of the scenery.
My advice is that stargazers arrive a bit earlier and do one of the hiking or biking trails to discover good stargazing spots. At 24,900 acres, I assure you the park is filled with places with crystal-clear views of the sky.
Table Rock State Park
Blessed with gorgeous mountain scenery, Table Rock State Park is a great alternative to go stargazing in Missouri. The park is located within a 20 minute drive from the city of Branson, so distance should not be a reason to prevent you from coming out to this wonderful park.
The best places for stargazing here are the Peninsula Lookout across from Moonshine Beach, Dewey Short Visitor Center, State Park Marina, Chateau on the Lake, and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery. Some of these places close late in the evening, so be sure to check their hours and not get locked inside.
Thousand Hill State Park
Thousand Hill State Park has everything you need to spend a lovely day in nature: hiking/biking trails over the hills, places to BBQ, a Marina, and tons of camping sites. The park also has pretty good conditions to do some night sky exploration.
On specificity dates, park team members, Truman State University faculty and the Adair County Public Library set up telescopes and invite people to learn about the sky and view it through telescopes. Make sure you check their facebook.com/ThousandHillsStatePark/ to know more about their programs.
Whetstone Conservation Area
Beloved by fierce campers, Whetstone Conservation Area is a beautiful 5207-acre recreation area located a few miles off 70. Far enough to only hear crickets, birds and coyotes. The area spans 500o acres of unspoiled nature. There’s a free camping site, pit toilets, and lots of lakes.
Despite its beauty, Whetstone Conservation Area rarely gets crowded. If you want to stay the night, notice the camping area is about 3 miles down a gravel road. It is a little daunting traveling at night up a gravel road, so try to arrive during the day.
Washington State Park
Washington State Park is another cool stargazing spot in Missouri. It is an hour from St. Louis on the Big River. You can see many of the celestial wonders from this park, including the Milky Way! This wonderful state park offers tons of amenities and accommodations on site.
Moreover, Washington State Park is also worth visiting during the day. The park is famous for housing petroglyphs (rock carvings) left by prehistoric American Indians. If you have the time, make sure to spend at least a day here.
Have any questions about these places for stargazing in Missouri, or know of other places I should add to this list? Let me know in the comments!