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Dark Sky Places in Southern Oregon

Stargazing Adventures in Southern Oregon

Welcome to Southern Oregon, a magical place where the night sky is so dark that it is full of visible stars! This is the perfect spot if you love looking deep into the universe. With only a short drive from city centers, you can explore many expanses of dark skies. Let’s explore some incredible places where the night sky is the darkest.

Where to Go

Crater Lake National Park: When the sun goes down, Crater Lake is a great place to experience the night sky. The lake is high in elevation and the air is immaculate, making it perfect for stargazing. Plus, the reflection of stars in the lake makes the stars seem even closer. 

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve: This place is not just about caves; it’s also excellent for viewing all the many wonders above, including the Milky Way. The Monument is up in the mountains, and when you look up, you can see a multitude of stars peeking through the trees.

Cascade Siskiyou National Monument: Here, merging the high desert with the Coastal Cascades, it is easy to find quiet spots where you can ponder a sky full of stars. This dark sky site is so dark that you can see the Andromeda Galaxy at 2.5 million light-years away with your naked eye. 

Oregon Outback: Imagine a place so wide and open and with a night sky so pristine that the stars brightly contrast against an inky black velvet background – and you’ve discovered the largest dark sky space in the world. The Outback is like a giant movie screen for watching stars, planets, and even the Milky Way. People come here with their telescopes, but you can see a lot with your naked eyes.

Visit the Oregon Outback Today

Cool Stuff to See

The Milky Way: This is our home galaxy, and the name given to the milky white portion of it that we see from Earth. It looks like a long, glowing river of stars across the sky.

Meteor Showers: Sometimes, you can see many shooting stars simultaneously. It’s like a fireworks show in the sky! The darker the sky, the more meteors you will see. 

Planets: Depending on the time of year and day you can see Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, Mercury, and Mars. To the naked eye they look like bright dots in the sky. However, with a small telescope or binoculars, you’ll see the rotational phases of Venus, bands on Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn.

Tips for a Fun Night

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 to avoid disturbing your night vision.

Stay Warm: Nights can get cold, especially in the high desert, so wear layers of warm clothes and maybe bring a blanket.

Be a Star Friend

Remember, keeping the sky dark is essential so everyone can enjoy the stars. That means using lights only when needed, where needed, and only as much as needed. Don’t shine lights up into the sky and avoid white lights. To maintain the health of all living things, use lights that significantly reduce or avoid blue light, like red lights. By practicing good lighting principles, you’re helping to keep the stars bright and avoiding ecological harm.Learn more about how to protect the night sky.

The Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network (OODSN) is a collaborative initiative aimed at establishing a Dark Sky Sanctuary across 11.4 million acres in southeastern Oregon. This area, known for its exceptionally dark skies, involves diverse stakeholders, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and private individuals, working together to promote dark sky preservation and combat light pollution. Since its inception, the OODSN has engaged in data collection for sky quality monitoring, community outreach, and educational events to raise awareness about the importance of dark skies. The ultimate goal is to secure Dark Sky certification to preserve the unique night sky heritage of the region. In March 2024, the OODSN achieved a significant milestone by obtaining Dark Sky Place approval for the initial phase in Lake County, with plans to expand the sanctuary and continue its efforts in promoting dark sky conservation. Learn more about OODSN.

See the Stars

Did you know there are special places around the world called Dark Sky Places? The night sky is protected in these locations. DarkSky, a non-profit organization that provides leadership, tools, and resources to reduce light pollution and promote responsible outdoor lighting, manages the International Dark Sky Places Program for the benefit of all. 

Southern Oregon is waiting for you to come and explore the night sky. You’ll see amazing stars, maybe a few bats and owls, and make memories that will last forever. Find a peaceful place to feel like you’re part of the vast universe. Grab your blanket and binoculars and join the adventure!

City
Activity
Attraction
Region
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Southern Oregon Outback

Lakeside Motel & RV Park

The Lakeside Motel and family-friendly RV Park is a perfect home-base for a stay in Christmas Valley, OR. Featuring large grassy […]

87275 Spruce Lane
Christmas Valley, OR. 97641
541-576-2309
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WEBSITE
Courtesy of Warner Canyon Ski Park
Southern Oregon Outback

Warner Canyon Ski Area

Warner Canyon, opened in 1938, is one of the oldest operating ski areas in Oregon. This old fashion ski hill […]

98158 Hwy 140
Lakeview, OR. 97630
541-947-6040
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WEBSITE
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Southern Oregon Outback

Deep Creek Falls

Deep Creek Falls flows along Gibson Canyon on the south end of Warner Valley. Cliff swallows, eagles and falcons can […]

Adel, OR.
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WEBSITE
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Southern Oregon Outback

Lee Thomas Campground

Located one hour 30 minutes southwest of Paisley, Oregon, Lee Thomas Campground is located right on the banks of the […]

Paisley, OR.
541-943-3114
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WEBSITE
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Southern Oregon Outback

Cottonwood Trailhead

Provides access to: Cottonwood Loop Trail #128, Cougar Peak Trail #125, and Cottonwood Creek Trail #127. The Cottonwood Trail System, is open to […]

Lakeview, OR.
541-947-6300
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WEBSITE
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Southern Oregon Outback

Hanan/Sycan Campground

Provides access to: Hanan Trail #142 which is open to hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The scenic Hanan Trail accesses roadless country […]

Summer Lake, OR.
541-943-3114
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WEBSITE
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Southern Oregon Outback

Lake End Village RV Park

Lake End Village is a monthly minimum stay RV Park. They believe that reducing the daily in and out traffic […]

1139 South G Street
Lakeview, OR. 97630
541-256-3954
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WEBSITE
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Southern Oregon Outback

Abert Rim

Abert Rim in Lake County, Oregon is one of the highest fault scarps in the United States. It rises 760 […]

Lakeview, OR. 97630
541-947-6040
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Southern Oregon Outback

Twin Springs Campground

Located 40 minutes southeast of Lakeview, Oregon, Twin Springs campground offers three peaceful campsites at 6,300 feet elevation. Twin Springs […]

Lakeview, OR.
541-947-3334
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WEBSITE

Embark on a journey to Southern Oregon, where adventure awaits in friendly communities, historic accommodations, and the clear, expansive heavens above. From soaking in geothermal hot springs under a starlit sky to exploring rugged beauty by day, this is your chance to witness the cosmos in a way that few places on Earth can offer. Dine in historic saloons, stay in rooms that stagecoach travelers once used, and immerse yourself in the serenity of the Oregon Outback.

Prepare for your expedition with our tips on traveling responsibly in this sacred space, ensuring the stars will shine brightly for generations to come. Optimize your visit by planning around new moon phases, and enhance your experience with digital tools that guide you through the constellations.

Stories

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01

Your Guide to Southern Oregon Stargazing

This area of cosmic wonder includes portions of Malheur, Lake and Harney counties to the east of larger Southern Oregon cities like Medford, Klamath Falls and Ashland. They are so sparsely populated that the region is also known as the Oregon Outback. And while much of the nighttime world grows brighter every year, as much as 11 million acres of Outback are on track to become an official Dark Sky Sanctuary in 2023. That would be the largest area of its kind, and good news not just for curious humans checking out the Milky Way but also for wildlife that needs the dark to thrive.

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02

Driving the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway

by Ben McBee   Hike in a Crater As you depart from the byway’s northern point in La Pine, the […]

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03

Stargazing Southern Oregon

When it comes to astrotourism, visitors to Southern Oregon enjoy an array of options. Light-pollution maps show large swaths of gray and black in the region, especially in the Oregon Outback. That’s good.

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04

Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Celebrates 20 Years

Covering large swaths of Southern Oregon wilderness, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is the only of its kind set aside solely for its biodiversity. It sits at the convergence of the Cascade, Klamath and Siskiyou mountain ranges, where distinct ecosystems of temperate forests, grasslands, wet meadows and interior desert meld together unlike anywhere in the United States.

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05

Explore The Circle of Discovery

By Kim Cooper Findling But Oregon’s striking sapphire beauty isn’t alone on the map when it comes to incredible natural […]

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06

Hart Mountain: Hot Springs and Antelope in the Oregon Outback

Sometimes the name of a place tells us just one part of the story. At Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge, you may very well spy the fleet-footed pronghorn antelopes for which the refuge is named, perhaps as many as several dozen in a day if you’re lucky.

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