The John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is an amazing place to visit, that is an area that hosts the Oregon Star Party. This means that the area is one of the darkest skies in Oregon and is easily reachable in a day drive.
If driving from the west, staying over at Prineville Reservoir State Park can be a great place if unable to make the drive in 1 day at a reasonable time.
The Light Pollution level at the John Day Fossil Bed National Monument is Black on the Bortle Scale. There are no specific groups to use this area as stargazing on the National Monument is indeed Trespassing. To legally stargaze on the National Monument land, please fill out a permit form here. This area is near the place where the Oregon Star Party is held each year. If camping in the area on not the National Monument, those wishing to stargaze can utilize any astronomical gear that they desire. Whether it be telescopes or astronomers, there would be enough room in the desert that one can setup as desired.
- How far outside of Portland? ~230 miles or 4.5 hours without traffic or stops
- Google Maps Location
- # of spots: 20-30 per site
- Cost For Parking: Free
There are no Overnight Accommodations at the monument
The National Parks Service has compiled a list of nearby places, which can be found here.
It is recommended that the camping sites in the area be used if one does not make advanced reservations. The benefits of these camping spots is that one does not need to pay for them and can use them on a first serve basis with a lot of space. The issues are that certain spots could get full early, which could make finding a spot tough and logistics an issue.
Current Seeing Conditions/Forecasts
The chart above is courtesy of ClearDarkSky.com and the chart below is courtesy of Clearoutside.com