Headlands International Dark Sky Park, Mackinaw City

Categories: National Parks, Nature & Parks
Inspirock Rating:
4.3/5 based on 150+ 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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  • Pretty location on the lake, and plenty of room for large family. We had 6 adults and 6 children and were quite comfortable. There could have been more living room furniture seating but we managed. Lo...  read more »
  • My freinds tease me about it, but I really belive this is the best place to look at stars, meteor showers and to hopefully see the northern lights. When I was last there they were doing some construct...  read more »
  • We hiked in before just before sunset. So happy we did! The water was calm and the beach area was so quiet. There were quite a few people but you didn't realize it until you looked around. The sky and...  read more »
  • Certainly a beautiful area but a number of things I wish we'd realized: 1.) Go when there ISN'T a full or almost full moon - the light from the moon was so bright you couldn't see that many stars (actually saw more stars as we walk OUT of the viewing area because the light from the moon was blocked by trees) 2.) It does get chilly - even in the middle of July. Bring a sleeping bag, pillow AND some type of tarp so the cold from the sand doesn't seep through your bag 3.) You'll want to lie down NOT sit in a chair to really see as much of the night sky as possible 3.) Sunset is pretty but then it feels like a LONG time until it gets dark. I'd probably arrive much later if I ever went again (10:30 or 11 pm would be about right) 4.) And if you arrived a bit later you could avoid the groups of loud people (unless that's your thing) and find a nice quiet spot
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • The "Dark Sky Park" is just a label for a tourist trap. Go to the actual website for the international dark sky parks and you will see it has one of the lowest ratings for their parks. There are many other places in Michigan that are much, much darker. All you have to do is look up NASA's satellite night pictures of the USA. It will be obvious where it is darker. The main problem with the headlands is, it sits right on the city limits of Mackinaw City. All of the light pollution from Mackinaw, the bridge and St. Ignace makes me wonder how they even got considered to be recognized as a "Dark Sky Park". So if you are a serious amateur astronomer, into astrophotography or just a gazer, you really should avoid. If you are just looking for a cool sunset, then stop there. If any of these 5-star reviewers went to some of the spots that I have shot pictures at, they wouldn't be leaving a 5-star review for this place. I have walked in the Atlanta or Grayling State Forest to take pics of stars, and used the stars light to see. Stars pop that much when you are in dark areas. The area between Grand Marais and Whitefish Point along the Lake Superior shoreline has to be some of the darkest I have ever shot in too. Although some of the areas I have been in don't even have maintained roads. But that is a good sign if you ask me. Have fun exploring!
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