The diverse landscape of North Carolina, from its sweeping coastlines to its majestic mountains, beckon travelers with a promise of adventure and tranquility. As daytime passes, the Tar Heel State showcases its rolling blue ridges, historic towns, and a rich tapestry of cultures. But as night falls, North Carolina reveals another treasure: a sky sprinkled with countless stars, planets, and even a few distant galaxies.
Stargazing in North Carolina is a journey unto itself, where one can trace the tales of constellations beyond a foreground of unparalleled beauty. Whether you find yourself in North Carolina for work, pleasure, or because you call it home, here are some of the spots to see the North Carolina night sky.
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Lumbee, Skaruhreh/Tuscarora, Cheraw, and Mánu: Yį Įsuwą (Catawba) 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.
Map of Where to Go Stargazing in North Carolina
Bald Head Island
Located off the coast of North Carolina, Bald Head Island offers a tranquil escape for stargazing. I mean it literally. There are no cars and you can only access it by ferry. The remote location minimizes light pollution, providing clear views of the night sky.
If you enjoy astrophotography, Bald Head Island offers excellent opportunities. The landscape dotted with lighthouses and coastal beauty is the perfect background for a stray night shot.
Bare Dark Sky Observatory
You will never look up to the stars the same way again after seeing what you are able to through the Sam telescope and the Meade telescope they have on Bare Dark Sky Observatory.
Designed for astronomy enthusiasts, this observatory is a fantastic place for stargazing in North Carolina. It has plenty of events and the sky is mostly unpolluted with light. You can bring your own equipment to set up if you like or use the observatory’s telescopes.
Bladen Lakes State Forest
Bladen Lakes State Forest is the ideal North Carolina stargazing destination for people who precise solitude to enjoy the night sky. It is very secluded. You can spend days here and never see another person. The secluded setting also favors stargazing as there’s very little light pollution.
There’s one thing to bear in mind, though: there is tons of dense pinewood forest and you may have to walk around a bit to find an area with unobstructed views.
Blue Ridge Parkway
I doubt you can find a better spot for stargazing in North Carolina than the Blue Ridge Mountains. One of the prettiest drives in America, Blue Ridge Parkway has tons of elevated vantage points all along that provide sweeping views of the starry sky.
Some of the best spots for watching the stars are Cahas Knob Overlook, Crabtree Falls Overlook, Rocky Knob Recreation Area, Devil’s Backbone, The Peaks of Otter, and Sunset Field.
Sold on visiting? I have an entire guide to stargazing in the Blue Ridge Mountains to help you plan.
Earth to Sky Park
True to its name, Earth to Sky Park offers a direct link to the sky above. You can join them in one of the Observatory nights – that would be Bare Dark Sky Observatory, which I’ve already mentioned – or participate in one of the planetarium’s events.
Aside from the observatory, the park’s parking area is always open for stargazing, since it is a dark sky site.
Jordan Lake State Recreation Area
Jordan Lake is a fantastic place to visit at any time of the year. With its serene atmosphere, beautiful scenery, and diverse wildlife, it’s a nature lover’s paradise – hence being a protected State Recreation Area.
Whether you’re hiking, fishing, or simply enjoying a picnic by the lake, there’s always something new and exciting to discover. Needless to say, stargazers will have a blast. Near the lakeshore there are tons of areas to set up your telescope or simply lay a blanket and enjoy the starry night.
As the highest peak in the Eastern U.S., Mt. Mitchell provides a gorgeous opportunity for stargazing in North Carolina. The best about Mt. Mitchell is that everyone can do it. It is a beautiful and easy trail to the summit with gorgeous views. The trail is paved and you can see people of all ages and fitness levels making it. If you can, try to arrive in time for the sunset. It’s also worth it!
The community of Oak Island offers an unobstructed horizon, allowing for breathtaking views of the sky over the ocean – because there’s nothing like watching the stars meet the sea. You’ll find tons of areas for stargazing.
Pro tip: try to go to the western tip of the island known as The Point. Here, you’ll be able to see the stars reflected in the ocean on one side and Lockwood Folly River on the other.
Ocracoke Island is famous for being one of the best shelling destinations on the Outer Banks. But it also hides a surprise for stargazers.
Isolated from urban areas, Ocracoke Island is a fantastic North Carolina stargazing destination if you want a little getaway. Its remote beaches and clear skies offer a chance to connect with nature and the cosmos. The undeveloped seashore offers tons of spots where you can watch the stars and take photos of the memorable occasion.
Stone Mountain State Park
Located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap is a paradise for hikers. Nonetheless, the park’s elevation and rural location offer a natural haven for stargazing. Bear in mind that the park closes at midnight. So you will have to spend the night if you want to stargaze here.
Town Creek Indian Mound
Town Creek Indian Mound is a little off the beaten path but well worth visiting. The site was once occupied by the Pee Dee Indians. The area’s historical significance combined with its rural location make for a unique stargazing experience steeped in culture. When it’s wet, it can be a little muddy, so wear shoes that won’t slip and slide. Also, there is a nice nature trail where you can find spots for stargazing.
Uwharrie National Forest
A gem for nature lovers and stargazers, Uwharrie National Forest might be the best place for city-dwellers to stargaze.
There are four wineries between this national forest and Charlotte. I don’t know about you, but wine and stars sound like a fantastic plan. First, enjoy a good glass of red wine, and then take advantage of the forest’s seclusion to appreciate the darkness and stars above.
Whiteside Mountain is a 2-mile loop hike in Nantahala National Forest between Cashiers and Highlands. Don’t worry, it’s a quick hike with sublime views and you can hike this as a round trip or out and back. The mountain has an elevated position that lends itself to spectacular stargazing.
The lack of urban sprawl also collaborates and enhances the viewing experience, revealing the beauty of the stars against a pristine backdrop.
Know of any other great spots for stargazing in North Carolina – or do you have questions about these locations? Let me know in the comments below!