Here is a list of the Top 4 Dark Sky Sites within a 2 hour drive of Bend, Oregon that are well recognized as good locations to visit and explore. There are other locations that we could have added, but want to make sure that the spots in all directions for some variety. For a complete and full list of unique astronomy sites in the Pacific Northwest, check out our map for a complete list, as these are just some of the available options.
Crater Lake National Park
As Oregon’s only National Park, Crater Lake National Park is already unique and one of its own for the state. The park is famous for its deep blue water color and amazing scenery, which provides for great outdoor activities such as hiking, photography, and more during the day. During the winter, 1/2 the roads are closed and the park gets a lot of snow. Due to its remoteness, the park has some great opportunities for stargazing. It is worth noting that Klamath Falls and the lodge to the South of the lake do provide some light that makes it a bit harder to stargaze in that area of the sky.
Prineville Reservoir State Park
Designated as an IDA Dark Sky Park in 2021, Prineville Reservoir State Park is a fantastic place to go stargazing. The site is well within distance of Portland, OR and other major cities, plus as part of the IDA Dark Sky program, the State Park is continuing to manage the light pollution in a way that has actually seen a measurable decrease. This means that the skies have become even darker, and with the site hosting star parties before COVID-19 happened, this site is extremely active and accessible.
Painted Hills National Monument
The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is a great place to go visit with the whole family as during the day, there are wonderful hikes and sights to see in the landscape. At the national monument, there are 3 units with a visitors center, and a plethora of hikes and fossils and views to keep everyone happy. Moreover, when the sun sets, the area is so far from cities that the night sky is amazing!
Sparks Lake / Mt Bachelor
The Mount Bachelor and Sparks Lake area are a great place to go view the Milky Way and be outdoors. The Mount Bachelor area provides miles of hiking and a plethora of winter activities. Being so far from cities such as bend allows the area to have limited light pollution, which makes the area such a wonderful stargazing place.
For dark sky sites closer to Portland, check out this article and make sure to come back next week for more great content like this. Connect with us on our social media such as Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date on new articles, events, and more.