State Stargazing Guide

10 Wonderful Spots for Stargazing in West Virginia

Located in the heart of Appalachia, West Virginia is home to rugged landscape, rolling hills, mountains, and valleys – it has a surprisingly diverse geography if you love the outdoors. Even better, the “Mountain State” isn’t home to any large cities; the most populous city of Charleston is home to just 50,000 people.

As you might guess, this makes West Virginia a fantastic stargazing destination: lots of wild spaces and low levels of light pollution are a perfect recipe for dark skies and seeing deep into our galaxy.

Stargazing in West Virginia Hero

If you’re planning to visit West Virginia and want to enjoy those great stargazing conditions, great choice. There are some incredible spots for stargazing in West Virginia, which is especially nice since it’s hard to find dark skies along the heavily populated eastern seaboard.

Below you’ll find a list of some of the best places for stargazing in West Virginia; there are certainly others, but these will give you a good start to plan your own stargazing sessions during your visit.

In this post, I promote traveling to destinations that are the traditional lands of the 𐓏𐒰𐓓𐒰𐓓𐒷 𐒼𐓂𐓊𐒻 𐓆𐒻𐒿𐒷 𐓀𐒰^𐓓𐒰^(Osage), S’atsoyaha (Yuchi), Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), and Calicuas 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 West Virginia

Stargazing in West Virginia Map
Click to interact with the 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 West Virginia can be found. I hope this helps you plan the ultimate stargazing trip!

Blackwater Falls State Park

Stargazing in West Virginia - Lindy Point

When it comes to natural beauty, Blackwater Falls State Park is probably one of the hardest contestants to beat. The park, famous for its impressive falls, has preserved the beauty of nature untouched. Yes, including the skies.

Nestled in the Allegheny Mountains, Blackwater Falls State Park sits under one of the darkest skies in the state. Add to that it’s isolated from big cities and you have the perfect place to look at the stars.

Calhoun County Park

Calhoun County Park is a gem of a park that not even locals know much about. Located east of the Mississippi River, this park is one of the best places to go stargazing in West Virginia.

The area’s sparse population, the lack of crowds, and small use of artificial lights allow the stars to shine in all their glory after the sun hides behind the horizon. Grab comfortable shoes, venture into the park, and set your eyes to the sky.

Calvin Price State Forest

Stargazing in West Virginia - Forest
Photo credit: Jenny Mealing via Flickr

One of the newest additions in West Virginia’s system, Calvin Price State Forest is a dream for stargazers. Its location adjacent to Watoga State Park (also on this list) has led to the forest remaining almost undeveloped, with a few primitive campgrounds scattered here and there.

If, in addition to dark skies, you’re looking for complete solitude, Calvin is one of the best West Virginia stargazing spots. You’ll hardly run into other campers or hikers, so you’ll have the park all to yourself! 

Camp Virgil Tate

The Kanawha Valley Astronomical Society meets each month at Camp Virgil Tate to visually wander among the stars. So this sky must have something special, right? Camp Virgil Tate spreads across 593 acres and is home to the Breezy Point Observatory.

The camp stands out for its youth programming, so it’s the perfect alternative to go stargazing in West Virginia if you have a curious teenager or want to introduce your little ones to astronomy.

Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park

Rumor has it that the lookout tower in Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park has an unmatched view of the stars, planets, and constellations that dot West Virginia’s sky. A day trip is also worth it. The park is a historical site that is part of the Civil War Discovery Trail.

Arrive early and visit the museum to learn about the Battle of Droop Mountain before your stargazing session.

Green Bank Observatory

Stargazing in West Virginia - Green Bank Observatory
Photo credit: Jiuguang Wang via Flickr

Green Bank Observatory is an exceptional place to visit for a West Virginia stargazing session. The observatory sits in the National Quiet Zone, an area where the lack of light and sound pollution is the norm and not the exception.

Besides dark skies, the observatory has more to brag about. It is home to the world’s premiere single-dish radio telescope and to the world’s largest polar-align telescope. The GBO hosts numerous astronomy events throughout the year. Check their website for more info. 

Lost River State Park

One of West Virginia’s more remote parks, Lost River State Park boasts such views of the dark skies that all stargazers keep coming back whenever they can.

The park is mainly aimed at hikers and campers, so if stargazing and camping together are your definition of an outdoors trip, then Lost River is for you. You’ll find a bunch of places to soak in the cosmos, but, for a sublime experience, make your way to the Cranny Crow overlook.

Seneca State Forest

Seneca State Forest is West Virginia’s oldest and largest state forest. The property has 12,884 acres of lush woodlands where you can set your telescope and marvel at the skies. As a forest, the area has a heavy tree population that may hamper tyro sky views. But, the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower or Seneca River offer unobstructed views.  

Stargazing in West Virginia
Photo credit: John Brighenti via Flickr

Summers County, WV

Southern West Virginia is home to Summers County, a place where starry nights are abundant. This lovely community is located between the beautiful Greenbrier and New River Valleys. You’ll find plenty of locations to see the stars so feel free to explore. According to fellow stargazers, Bluestone Lake and Sandstone Falls are prime spots to surf the night sky.   

Watoga State Park

Not far from Seneca is Watoga State Park, another sublime spot to get lost in the wonder of the cosmos. Watoga is nestled in the mountains of Pocahontas County, one of the least populated areas in the state.

You know the drill by now: small population means little light pollution and that means great stargazing opportunities. You can watch the stars from the comfort of your campground or head to Watoga Lake to see the starry night reflected on the water. 

Are there other great spots for stargazing in West Virginia that need to be on this list – or do you have questions about these ones? Let me know in the comments.

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Valerie is the founder and editor of Space Tourism Guide. She grew up in Alaska, has lived across the U.S., and traveled around the world to enjoy the night sky from many different perspectives. Join her on this journey to explore space right here on earth.

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