Stargazing in Dripping Springs received a lot of interest. So, we’re back with another post on where to stargaze. This time, we explore places around the Lone Star State.
As mentioned in the previous post, Dripping Springs is the first International Dark Sky Community in Texas and the world’s sixth Dark Sky Community. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) is as an authority on light pollution. Since 2001, the association has been protecting the night sky from light pollution.
IDA also educates residents about the importance of dark skies. Its International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) Program recognizes cities and towns that implement outdoor lighting ordinance.
Stargazing at Dark Sky Places in the Texas State Park System
If you want to expand your dark sky adventure, the next stop ought to be Fredericksburg. Only an hour away from Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg is an International Dark Sky Community Designation. Want to venture a little further? Head west to Devils River State Natural Area as it’s the first to receive the International Dark Sky Sanctuary designation.
According to IDA, it’s one of the darkest and most ecologically fragile sites in the world. They’re the fifth Dark Sky Place in the Texas State Park system. A sanctuary is typically located in a remote location with little or no threats nearby to affect the quality of its night sky.
Other Texas State Parks receiving the designation in order of driving time from Dripping Springs:
- Enchanted Rock State Natural Area (1.5 hours)
- South Llano River State Park (2 hours)
- Copper Breaks State Park (5.5 hours)
- Big Bend Ranch State Park (8 hours)
Enchanted Rock is where the famous massive pink dome lives. Park visitors love to climb, hike, and camp around the dome. Those who stay overnight will be treated to a natural star show when darkness falls. The best time to go is on moonless nights that provide an opportunity to catch a shooting star.
Big Bend Park may seem a bit far to go. However, two hours north of the park is Fort Davis where you’ll find the McDonald Observatory. This observatory is part of the University of Texas’s astronomy department. Featuring four high-powered telescopes, it’s one of those must-see places for astronomy fans.
Other Places to Stargaze in Texas
Head north of Dripping Springs for 90 minutes toward Buchanan Dam and you’ll find yourself at Canyon of the Eagles Resort. The 950-acre park contains a clear sky and an observatory with two telescopes at its Eagle Eye Observatory.
The Texas Panhandle can make a wonderful weekend getaway when you head to Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas. It’s the home of the second largest canyon in the country. You can bike, ride horses, and hike at the park. They also have geocaching. Campsites with water and electricity are available as are tent sites and backpack camping areas.
Palo Duro has three cabins on the canyon’s rim and four Cow Camp cabins on the canyon floor. They even have luxury camping aka glamping. These sites have air conditioning, refrigerators, microwaves, games, gas grills, fire pits, and porches with rockers and swings. The park holds star parties and full moon hikes. It also has onsite astronomy binoculars and telescopes. Enjoy exploring the galaxy!