I need your help finding a dark place in Wisconsin

Sounds a little cryptic, huh?

The only thing I’ve decided I want for my birthday next weekend is to see the Milky Way. It’s been a long, long time since I was anyplace dark enough to enjoy the night sky. (It was probably in the Sahara of Morocco in early 2008.) To do so I need to things: 1) a little cooperation from Mother Nature for clear skies, and 2) a dark place. I’ve checked the calendar and there will be a new moon, so that’s good timing.

I’ve already ruled out the observatory in New Berlin. It’s just too light there for me. Do you have any other ideas within an hour or so drive?

(Update! Be sure to read how this all ended.)


  1. Madeline island on the beach at Big Bay. I saw the Milky Way there from horizon to horizon. You might see some Aurora Borealis action as well.

  2. Wah! More than an hour to get there. http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/parks/specific/bigbay/

  3. The Lorax says:


    Probably not much help, but growing up, we used to lay out in the field and watch the stars.

    This may be a place that is far enough away from civilization and still close enough to home.

    There’s not really an observatory or anything. Just an old fireman’s hill.

  4. Oooh. Closer! Thanks.

  5. Scott Berg says:

    The really good sites are more than an hour away. Harrington Beach isn’t terrible and is with the zone. It’s home to Northern Cross Astronomy Club.

    Door County, especially the east shore, is pretty good. Perhaps an overnight road trip?

    This list is well researched and credible:


  6. Thank you very much, Scott. I appreciate your help here. The link is promising.

    I am in Door County for a week in October. I’ll check the moon for that time. I may have to postpone my goal a bit.

  7. BrkfldDad says:

    I’m not sure when the Kettle Moraine North Unit or Long Lake Recreational Areas close, but we some of the best ‘dark’ areas we use for Boy Scouts are in this area. Potawatomi Council’s Long Lake Camp is on the northern edge of the lake. The whole area is about 60 minutes away. We bring our old Scoutmaster’s telescope and have gotten incredible views for the Astronomy merit badge work. Just Google Map “Dundee, WI 53011” and you see a lot of options. Heck, take a short side trip to Benson’s Hide-A-Way, the unofficial UFO capital of WI – N4241 Boy Scout Road, Campbellsport, WI 53010

  8. Maybe this will help:

    Happy Birthday!

  9. I would second Harrington Beach. We were just there a few weeks ago and the stars were pretty impressive.

    For your star viewing assistance, you should check this out:


  10. jimspice says:

    Little late here, but… You could always find a friend with a boat and head out into the middle of Lake Michigan. Short of that, you can use a light pollution map like this one (http://www.jshine.net/astronomy/dark_sky/) to find nearby dark spots.

  11. Bummer. I’m never going to pull this off! That map is scary. But, it does look like Bdad’s location is as good as I get until I head to Ellison Bay in Door County. My trip there might work if I go a day early to time the moon set so that I can get some viewing in – hopefully. I guess this is going to be a year’s worth of looking until I get what I want. I’ll be traveling some so I’ll keep all these links in mind. I’ll also let you know if I have any luck this weekend.

  12. John Foust says:

    I was at Rowley Bay last weekend, and yes, it was quite dark. And I’ve got an 8 inch Dobsonian.