Stargazing in Texas: Dark Sky Locations + Tips

Outdoor adventures are around every corner in Texas, and as the landscape changes from one side of the state to the other, the adventures you can have are endless. You can load up your kayaks for a day on the water, lace up your hiking shoes for a long hike, sit back and relax with a fishing pole… and once the sun sets, you can set out to enjoy the best stargazing in Texas.

A beautiful aspect of Texas that many people overlook is the multitude of options you have to see the stars under giant Texas skies. There are plenty of places to stargaze all over the Lone Star State, giving you plenty of options to choose from.

Many state and national parks in Texas are considered International Dark Sky Parks because they intentionally minimize light pollution to allow the night sky to shine brighter. From West Texas to the Gulf Coast, and everywhere in between, Texas is not in short supply of places where you and your family can stargaze.

Here are the best locations for stargazing in Texas, plus helpful tips to get the most out of your stargazing experience.

milky way, visible at dark sky parks in texas

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The Best Places to Stargaze in Texas

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is a one-of-a-kind stop for all outdoor adventures. One outdoor adventure that sets Big Bend apart from many national parks around the country is stargazing opportunities.

Big Bend is considered an International Dark Sky Park that limits any city lights and allows you to see thousands of stars on a single night.

Brazos Bend State Park

Brazos Bend State Park is an incredible Texas state park near Houston

Although Brazos Bend State Park is near Houston, the park’s most fantastic aspect is that it houses the George Observatory, which feels worlds away from the city lights. Having George Observatory within the park allows you to use one of the largest telescopes in the country.

You can easily spend a whole day at Brazos Bend State Park by exploring and hiking during the day and then staying to join a star party and check out the observatory at night.

george observatory for texas stargazing as seen during the day

Caprock Canyons State Park

Caprock Canyons is located in the Texas panhandle and is home to the only wild bison herd in the state. As you explore Caprock Canyons State Park, you will find new and exciting ecosystems around every single turn.

Caprock Canyons State Park is painted with rocks covered in colors of deep oranges, and every visit will leave you in awe.

With this state park being located away from the city lights, it is a prime spot to stargaze and catch a perfect glimpse of the Milkyway.

view of the milky way from caprock canyons state park, one of the best texas stargazing locations

McDonald Observatory

If you are looking for a more in-depth view of the stars, head to McDonald Observatory in West Texas, which is run in partnership with the University of Texas and is considered one of the best places for stargazing in Texas.

This West Texas Observatory boasts multiple telescopes to allow you and your family to learn and get up close and personal with the stars that light up the night.

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Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon displays the most majestic oranges and deep reds throughout the canyon formations. Palo Duro Canyon is located in the Texas panhandle, and people visit from all over to take a hike through the beautiful canyon all throughout the year.

As the daylight leaves Palo Duro Canyon, the Milky Way is known to become apparent over the park’s lighthouse formation. When you visit Palo Duro, don’t forget to include exploring the park at night so you can catch glimpses of the stars.

Enchanted Rock State Natural Area

If you are looking for a place to stargaze in the Hill Country, look no further than Enchanted Rock. On top of this beautiful piece of granite, you can soak up the most unrestricted views of the night sky above.

Enchanted Rock is another place in Texas that is designated as a night sky park because the lights from around are controlled to a particular area.

milky way as seen from enchanted rock, one of the best places for astrophotography in texas

Matagorda Island

Escape away from it all by taking a ferry to Matagorda Island. Since Matagorda is so far away from city lights, the stargazing on the beach is hard to beat.

You can choose to visit for the day or camp out for the night and head to the beach at night to experience the stars for their full beauty truly.

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Davis Mountains State Park

Davis Mountains State Park is one of the few mountain landscapes in Texas. There are plenty of spaces within the park that allows you to sit back and watch the wildlife scurry by and fly high above.

Another significant aspect of Davis Mountain State Park is that it becomes an even more impressive sight at night.

Sit back and relax after your hike to the many viewpoints all over the park atop the mountain range. From many spots throughout the park, you can see the stars from an entirely new angle.

astrophotography of davis mountains state park texas with an abandoned water tower in the foreground

Copper Breaks State Park

Home to a beautiful longhorn herd, Copper Breaks State Park offers you plenty of hiking trails to keep you and your family entertained for hours. As the sun goes down, you can also find a spot to lay under the stars to get the most out of your time at the park.

Designated as a Dark Sky Park, Copper Breaks minimizes any light pollution that would stand in the way of seeing the stars at night.

Alongside Big Bend State Park, Copper Breaks State Park is on the gold tier of viewing status for night skies, which truly sets it apart from many parks all over the country.

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Lost Maples State Natural Area

Lost Maples State Natural Area is a well-known park that people travel all over to visit for its beautiful fall color every year. Large Sawtooth maples transition the landscape of Lost Maples State Park into one painted with reds and oranges.

Many people don’t realize that they can explore Lost Maples once the moon comes out. Lost Maples is a great place for Texas stargazing with your family and enjoy the magnificent spectacle that the sky above offers.

very end of the sunset in lost maples state natural area

Essential Tips for Stargazing in Texas

Bring warm clothing.

All over Texas, you can expect temperatures that will be comfortable for stargazing during most of the year.

Texas summers are typically insanely hot, but the temperatures always drop off at night. If you just hiked all day, you may be thinking you don’t need to bring any extra clothing when you go stargazing.

Across the state, temperatures drop at night, so it’s always essential to pack some light layers to keep you and your family comfortable while you stargaze in Texas.

man standing on a boulder under the milky way stargaze in texas

Download the Skyview Star App.

It can be hard to remember the different constellations that fill the night sky above you while you are out stargazing. The Skyview Star app allows you to just point your phone to the night sky, and it will show you the planets and constellations above.

Practice astrophotography.

Grab a tripod and head to a nearby state park that is known for its amazing stars. Make sure to practice what exposure and camera settings your camera will need to get the bests photographs of the stars.

Star photography is a wonderful hobby that many people partake in, and they walk away with photos that will always leave you in awe.

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Attend a State Park Star Party.

State Parks all over Texas have all types of events, from guided hikes to themed holiday celebrations and more. For many parks that are well known for having some of the best stargazing in Texas, you can also attend a star party.

Attending a star party allows you to learn about the stars from an experienced park ranger and will help you spend your time looking at the stars above.

group of people with a telescope waiting for the sun to set for stargazing texas

Watch a meteor shower.

All throughout the year, there are meteor showers, planet sightings, and more.

Planning to visit one of the parks listed above during any of these fantastic events will help you create memories that will last a lifetime.

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Wait for your eyes to adjust.

One fact you should know is that if you head to a spot for stargazing, you often need to let your eyes adjust for at least thirty minutes. Allowing your eyes to adjust will open up a world of stars that you won’t be able to see where there is light pollution.

view of milky way from caprock canyons, black and red text on a white background reads "the ultimate guide texas stargazing"

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