Headlands International Dark Sky Park, Mackinaw City
(4.3/5 based on 160+ reviews on the web)
One of only six such parks in the U.S.at the time of designation in 2011~one of only ten in the world! Enjoy Emmet County's dark wilderness at the Headlands anytime of day or night, all the year 'round. Located 2 miles west of Mackinaw City in Northwest Lower Michigan, at the top of Michigan's mitten on the Lake Michigan shoreline.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Went there during the day. Lots of hiking trails. It was beautiful in the woods with all the fall leaves on trees. 
  • Let me preface this by stating we went on a cloudy night and saw like 20 star in total and 1 satellite. So, no Milky Way and no Aurora Borealis. The website says it's a 1 mile hike to the beach and it...  more »
  • The walk to the beach is a mile. The walk back is a mile. You need a flashlight with a red beam. You will walk back in total darkness. It was worth it though but only when we walked back from the beac...  more »
Google
  • Pro tip: when you're walking to and from the viewing area along the pathway, do not be that guy that is pointing their phone screen forward blinding any onlookers making them lose all of the adjustments their eyes have been undergoing adjusting to the dark. In fact, don't even bother bringing a flashlight unless you can manage to either point it downward at all times, turn it off before you get to the viewing area, and/or its red-filtered. The view once you get past the tree line is incredible. Well worth the decent hike from the parking lot. The park attendant helping you cross the road from the lot to the pathway is incredibly kind and helpful.
  • Beautiful setting on the shore of Lake Michigan! New construction is going to facilitate excellent stargazing! Am awesome part of Emmet County close to Mackinaw City! Decent sky conditions for observing the night sky! Very active program schedule year round! Fantastic place!
  • Awesome date night place to go. We watched the Perseid Meteor Shower and it was amazing
  • Absolutely wonderful night sky. If you're in the area make sure to stop. If you're coming from afar to do some stargazing, you will not be disappointed. The hike to the shore is a bit long, carry only what you need. If you're thinking about bringing a telescope, make sure it's small and light or has a really nice set of wheels.
  • It's a cool place, but don't expect a developed 'park' like I did. It's actually a long (1.5mi) foot trail leading to a waterfront area with a great view of the sky. The trail is big and well maintained, but admittedly creepy as you walk deep into the forest with absolutely no light but your flashlight if you bring one. The waterfront is beautiful once you get there, and it's extremely quiet. I love that there's no real guidance. You find a spot, lay out a blanket, and unpack your snacks. The sounds of the water and insects make it amazingly peaceful. I wasn't there on an ideal viewing night, but it was still a special kind of relaxing.