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Welcome to the Oregon Outback Dark Sky Sanctuary: A Stargazer’s Paradise

Explore the Unspoiled Night Sky

Nestled in Lake County of Southern Oregon, the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary offers one of the most breathtaking night sky viewing experiences in the United States. This pristine high desert location is a haven for astronomers, photographers, and anyone eager to gaze upon the unspoiled beauty of the cosmos.

Visit the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary

Our night skies are a treasure trove of wonders waiting to be explored. The Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary is committed to preserving these dark skies for future generations, while providing wide open spaces for everyone to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the universe.

Camp and Sit Under the Stars

Imagine settling for the night under a canopy of stars, where the only light comes from the cosmos. Around the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary, camping is not just about spending a night outdoors; it’s an immersive experience that brings you face-to-face with the universe. As you sit by your campfire, the sky above offers a live show that changes from dusk till dawn. The constellations become your companions, and shooting stars prompt wishes. You will have an opportunity to teach, learn, and bask in the silence of the universe. Whether you’re a solo adventurer, with family, or among friends, camping here promises a night where the stars are so vivid you’ll reach out and touch them.

Shooting star in the Oregon Outback amongst trees.
Falling Stars Lake County
       Credit: Shannon Theall

Meet Up for a Stargazing Party

Gathering with fellow astronomy enthusiasts under the dark, expansive skies of the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary is an experience like no other. Our stargazing parties are designed for everyone, from the curious beginner to the seasoned astronomer. These events are communal gatherings where the wonders of the night sky are shared and celebrated. Equipped with telescopes and guided by experts, you’ll view celestial bodies in stunning clarity. It’s a chance to learn, to ask questions, and to marvel together at the beauty of the cosmos. Each stargazing party is a unique event, capturing the magic of the night sky and fostering a sense of community among all who attend.

Father and daughter looking at milky way
Warner Valley Overlook
     Credit: Joey Hamilton/Travel Oregon

Explore the Playa

For those seeking a magical nighttime adventure, the playa offers an unparalleled experience. As the moon casts its silvery glow over the landscape, the Oregon Outback transforms into an otherworldly scene. Guided by experts, you’ll explore the area’s natural beauty, illuminated by the gentle light of our closest celestial neighbor. This is an ideal opportunity to witness the playa’s stark shadows and bright highlights, creating a mesmerizing contrast perfect for photography or simply for enjoying the moment. The moonlit tour explores the night in a way that few ever experience, offering a new perspective on the beauty of our natural world under cover of darkness.

Drive the byway
Oregon Outback Scenic Byway
     Credit: Jak Wonderly/Travel Southern Oregon

Dark Sky Map: Know Where You Are

You’ll need a physical map during your visit to the Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary for a safe and enjoyable experience. In this remote and beautiful landscape, cell phone service can be unreliable, and relying solely on digital navigation could lead to you becoming lost. A physical map provides a reliable and accessible way to navigate the area, ensuring you can find your way to viewing spots, campsites, and trailheads. Furthermore, it can enhance your exploration by offering insights into the geography and natural features of the region. Visit the Lake County Chamber of Commerce or our public lands partners – BLM, U.S.  Forest Service, Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge – for the most accurate and up-to-date maps. These locations provide a wealth of resources for visitors, including current conditions, and maps that cover the Sanctuary and surrounding areas. Starting your adventure here prepares you for a successful journey and supports local institutions that maintain and protect these precious dark sky environments.

Plan Your Visit

Before you embark on your stargazing adventure, here are some tips to make your experience unforgettable:

  • Best Time to Go: The New Moon, when the moon remains below the horizon all night. There is also a 10-day window bookending the New Moon when the moon is below the horizon for most of the night. 
  • What to Bring: You can see many stars with your naked eyes, especially under a dark sky. Binoculars or a small telescope can make your trip even more extraordinary. Also, bring a red light flashlight or headlamp to avoid disturbing your night vision.
  • Stay Warm: Nights can get cold, especially in the high desert, so wear layers of warm clothes and bring a blanket.
  • Stay Informed: Check our website for event schedules, weather updates, and tips on making the most of your visit to the sanctuary.
  • Prepare for Limited Cell Phone Service: Connectivity can be spotty in the vast open spaces of the Oregon Outback. Ensure you have a physical map to guide your journey. Maps are readily available at the visitor center and forest service office, providing detailed information to help you explore safely and get the most out of your visit.

Dark Sky Places are all over the world

Since 2001, DarkSky has certified more than 200 International Dark Sky Places. With protected land and night skies in 22 countries on 6 continents, the Oregon Outback Dark Sky Sanctuary and Lake County are proud to join the list.

Contact Us

Ready to explore the universe? Visit the community page for more information on planning your trip, learning night sky etiquette, and joining upcoming events. The stars are waiting.