From coast to coast, and everywhere in between, there are some incredible spots for stargazing all across the U.S. However, as in most things, the middle of the country – whether you call it the Heartland, the Flyover States, or just the good ol’ Midwest – gets overlooked when it comes to stargazing.
To be fair, there are some factors that make stargazing in the Midwest different than other regions of the country; different weather patterns, humidity, dust in the air, and geologic formations (read as: very few!) all play a role in how much light pollution you experience both in and around a given urban area. Such is the case for Oklahoma City, which is admittedly one of the trickier cities for stargazing.
I never let a challenge like that stop me though, and in this post I’ve put together some of the best places for stargazing in Oklahoma City and in the surrounding region. To be completely honest, you’re going to want to leave Oklahoma City to go stargazing – the city just has too much light pollution.
But whether you can’t or don’t have enough interest to merit a long drive and overnight trip, I’ve got you covered anyway. Read on to discover decent spots for stargazing in OKC, plus even better stargazing spots in the rest of Oklahoma.
In this post, I promote traveling to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Gáuigú (Kiowa), 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), Wichita, Nʉmʉnʉʉ Sookobitʉ (Comanche), Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo), Chahta (Choctaw) 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.
The Best Spots for Stargazing in Oklahoma City
Big cities aren’t exactly the first place that comes to your mind when you want to watch the stars. Oklahoma City is not an exception. While it wasn’t easy, I managed to find two good spots for stargazing in Oklahoma City where you can get your astronomy fix.
Located right in the heart of the city, Scissortail Park is a pretty new addition to downtown Oklahoma City. It didn’t take long for it to become one of the favorite Oklahoma City stargazing spots. Even the Oklahoma City Astronomy Club takes advantage of the great open space and hosts their meetings in the park.
The park is only 70 acres, but there’s tons of fun within it. It features ornamental gardens and woodlands, a lake and boathouse, and even a grand promenade, giving you plenty to do before the sunset on the night you visit for stargazing.
Science Museum Oklahoma
There’s nothing like witnessing the magic of the cosmos in the middle of nowhere where it can shine in all its glory. But sometimes, getting out of the city is just not possible. That’s when planetariums get into the picture.
Science Museum Oklahoma is home to the Kirkpatrick Planetarium. It has the latest planetarium technology and each program offers a truly immersive voyage through the universe. The programs vary throughout the year and are included in your admission ticket.
Stargazing Spots Within 1.5 Hours of OKC
It’s just an hour away. I know, it doesn’t sound like much, but in stargazing, a place that’s an hour away from the city can be under completely different skies.
Roman Nose State Park
Located in Watonga, Roman Nose State Park is a fantastic place to go stargazing in Oklahoma City. The park sits in one of the state’s less light-polluted areas.
While it is full of beautiful views, the real beauty is up, where the stars and planets come out to play once the darkness arrives. Head on a journey through the park to find the higher bluffs overlooking Watonga Lake. This is where you’ll be closer to the sky.
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is a paradise for hikers and campers, who come from all around Oklahoma to take advantage of the mountainous landscape – one of the oldest in the world. If you’re one of them and share a love for starting, too… oh, boy, you’re in for a treat.
Come here early and enjoy the hundreds of trails and climbs it offers. Because, after the night falls, it’s all about the stars. You can gaze at the sky from one of the campgrounds or find a neat spot on one of the trails you explored earlier.
Stargazing Spots Within 2.5 Hours of OKC
As you can tell from the short list so far, the stargazing in Oklahoma City is not especially fantastic; instead, you’ll have a much better night under the stars if you plan ahead to drive further from the city lights and stay overnight.
It takes two hours to get from Oklahoma City to Lake Eufaula, the state’s largest lake. Unsurprisingly, Eufaula Lake is a favorite of locals who enjoy water sports, but stargazers will find it interesting, too.
The lake covers 105,500 acres and is surrounded by nothing but small towns. Between the lack of nearby urban centers and its great expanse, the stars have the perfect environment to shine brightly. There’s tons of open space, but the shoreline makes a great spot to lay a blanket or bring your stargazing gear.
Little Sahara State Park
The endless miles of dunes that make up Little Sahara State Park are a wonderful landscape to have against the night sky.
Located in Waynoka, the park is like Disneyland for people with dune buggies and ATVs. The area is untouched, and you won’t even find any hiking trails through the dunes. Such a pristine landscape paves the way for a gorgeous night sky. It’s practically impossible not to find a good spot to watch the stars because the sky is dark no matter where you’re at.
There’s also an awesome observation deck if you don’t want to venture into the desert.
Waynoka is a little town right in the Oklahoma panhandle a.k.a No Man’s Land. For that reason, the town is a lot darker than other parts of the state. Waykona has plenty of spots where you can enjoy the beauty of the galaxy, one of them is Little Sahara State Park.
But don’t fall into the trap of driving straight to Little Sahara for a view of the cosmos. The tiny town is home to three and a half bars and only 926 people who create very little light pollution. So that unassuming, open space behind the town’s grocery store can be a wonderful spot to see the stars.
Freedom is a tiny town on the banks of the Cimarron River. To my surprise, it’s one of the least known Oklahoma City stargazing places – or maybe local stargazers want to keep it secret?
It’s a dream come true for astronomy buffs; the town has a population of only 289 people, which should give you a sense of the lack of urbanization there. It is also home to the Alabaster Caverns State Park, where you can camp and see the stars. But there’s no need to confine yourself to the boundaries of the park to set up your telescope. The town is petty much yours to explore, too.
How Good is the Stargazing in Oklahoma City
As you can tell from the limited spots in and near the city, the stargazing in Oklahoma City is not great – just being completely honest here!
The light pollution from the city creates a big ol’ light bubble in the night sky, and Oklahoma’s flat landscape provides little respite from it, anywhere near the urban core.
Instead, you’ll need to travel further afield from Oklahoma City if you want to see truly dark skies; the further west, the better.
Best Times to Go Stargazing in Oklahoma City
If you’re planning to visit Oklahoma City and want to go stargazing (elsewhere in Oklahoma, as just mentioned), it helps to understand general weather patterns throughout the year – especially cloud cover, precipitation, and humidity, as these are the three factors that can most interfere with stargazing.
Oklahoma City’s weather is pretty consistent throughout the year, from a cloud cover perspective; the autumn (mostly October) is usually quite clear, and humidity is generally lower than than during other parts of the year. Additionally, October is good if you want to still have decent temperature before winter sets in across the Great Plains.
Can You See the Milky Way in Oklahoma City?
If you’re still wondering whether you can see the Milky Way, this is a tricky question… If you go stargazing in Oklahoma City, no, you won’t be able to spot the Milky Way because there’s too much light pollution.
However, there are dark areas like the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Roman Nose State Park, where the spiraling band of light can be seen in all its glory. If you have the time and resources to make the drive, you’ll be well-rewarded at those stargazing spots which are further from the city.
Have any questions about stargazing in Oklahoma City, or some of these nearby spots? Or do you know another great stargazing location I should add? Let me know in the comments below!