It’s considered one of the flyover states, mostly because those who’ve never set foot there have no idea what North Dakota has to offer. Sure, it’s sparsely populated, but that just creates more open space to explore the outdoors, and less light pollution to interfere with your view of the stars once the sun goes down. Yes, stargazing in North Dakota can be a real treat, if you’re willing to make the journey (or if you already live there, you already know!).
As part of my collection of guides for stargazing in every state, I thought it was about time to sit down and share the spots in North Dakota where the stargazing is best. Below, you’ll find nine of them which showcase both the great conditions for enjoying the night sky as well as many of North Dakota’s natural wonders.
Whether you’re just passing through – but not flying over – or call The Peace Garden State home, let this guide you to get out and explore the wonders of the solar system and our galaxy above us each night (instead of just those planes overhead).
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Mandan, Hidatsa, & Arikara Nation (Three Affiliated Tribes), the Spirit Lake Nation , the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Nation, 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.
Where to Go Stargazing in North Dakota (Map)
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 North Dakota can be found. I hope this helps you plan the ultimate stargazing trip!
Beaver Lake State Park
Starting off, we have Beaver Lake State Park. This place is one of the best spots for stargazing in North Dakota. It may be small, spanning 600 acres, but this state park is rated as a two on the Bortle Scale, which basically means it is one of the darkest places on Earth.
Beyond stargazing, the park is a haven for families. It offers tons of activities such as boating, canoeing, water skiing, and fishing. Oh, if birdwatching is something you enjoy, Beaver Lake is also a fantastic spot to see waterbirds!
Cross Ranch State Park
Want a real taste of beautiful North Dakota? This is it! Cross Ranch State Park is tucked away along the Missouri River between unbelievable rolling hills and farmland. It is another fabulous spot for a stargazing session and it’s been designated as a Bortle Scale 2 site. Talk about an overlooked gem. It also has great hikes where you’ll view everything from wild sunflowers to roaming bison and grassland, biking, and yes kayaking the Missouri.
If you’re planning to spend the night, you can stay at the park’s primitive campground or hike to their camping spot in a backcountry area.
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
Situated along the Missouri and Heart Rivers, Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park is another great option when looking for stargazing spots in North Dakota. The park is famous for being the oldest state park in North Dakota and its reconstructed Earthlodge village.
During the summer, the park hosts Star Parties at Cavalry Square, where visitors of all ages can enjoy stargazing. But, if you want to go on your own, you can spend the night in their cabins or campgrounds –these feature water and electricity.
Fort Ransom State Park
Nestled in the scenic Sheyenne River Valley, Fort Ransom State Park offers breathtaking views of central North Dakota prairie grasslands. It’s basically in the middle of nowhere, but it’s that seclusion that makes it great for stargazing.
For spending the night, the park caters to all tastes. It features well-equipped campsites, cabins, and even a lovely yurt for accommodation. Keep in mind that trails could be marked better for easier navigation, but the overall experience of tranquility, scenery, and excellent amenities make up for it.
Lake Sakakawea State Park
Lake Sakakawea State Park is a haven for stargazing in North Dakota, especially for people seeking solitude to pursue their astronomic endeavors. This place is unbelievably peaceful and tranquil, and it is just amazing to spend some time here, as it’s one of the least popular state parks on this list – for stargazing or otherwise
Fishing is also fantastic here with different species and plenty of spots. There is also a swimming beach, but the water is pretty chilly. The whole park is squeaky clean with great roads and plenty of parking spots.
Known for its diverse outdoor recreation, Pembina Gorge attracts people who enjoy ATV trails, kayaking, and mountain biking. But only a few people know that you can complement your visit by night with the stunning night sky.
There are tons of places for watching the stars: valley cliffs, isolated prairies, and pocketed wetlands surrounded by the largest continuous, unspoiled forest in North Dakota. Unfortunately, there is no camping here, but you can camp nearby in Walhalla or a little further away at Icelandic State Park
Sheyenne National Grassland
Sheyenne National Grassland is one of the best stargazing spots in North Dakota by far. The property is a mix of forest, prairie, and farmland. It is beyond beautiful! With its varied landscapes and abundant activities, Sheyenne National Grassland is a well-kept secret for those in search of tranquility and outdoor adventures.
It has plenty of wide open spaces, such as the North Country National Scenic Trail and Oak Leaf Trail, making it a haven for those seeking solitude and connection with nature – oh, and stargazing, of course!
Sully Creek State Park
Nestled in the heart of the badlands, Sully Creek State Park offers a unique setting for Stargazing in North Dakota against the backdrop of the Little Missouri River. With the badlands surrounding an open valley, the park provides all the conditions for the stars to shine brightly.
Serving as a gateway to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Sully Creek State Park offers camping, equestrian facilities, and canoe access to the river. The park’s strategic location and natural beauty make it an ideal base for those exploring the badlands and seeking a connection with the night sky.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Of all the stargazing spots in North Dakota on the list, Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a true stargazer’s paradise. The park’s exceptional air quality is perfect for astronomical observations, whether that’s a starry night, one of the year’s top meteor showers, or one of those rarer nights when the northern lights are visible.
Since it’s located over 30 miles from the nearest large city, there’s minimal light interference and unmatched night sky visibility. I don’t have to tell you there are tons of spots for watching the stars, but Peaceful Valley Ranch, Wind Canyon, and Oxbow Overlook are some of the best.
Know of any other great spots for stargazing in North Dakota or have questions about these spots? Let me know in the comments below!