Here is a list of the Top 4 Dark Sky Sites within a 2 hour drive of Hillsboro, 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.
Larch Mountain Trailhead/Sherrard Point
Sherrard Point is a great place for a day hike in the Columbia Gorge as well as for binocular or naked eye viewing! Astrophotography is also a possibility here, but note that gear has to be carried in. Moreover, snow has the road closed for the majority of the year, so check with the US Forest Service before heading out. This site is very rarely used for astronomy, and does have a chance for binoculars and small telescopes to be carried along the .6 mile hike to the point. Make sure to bring a headlamp to guide your way.
A small coastal city in northwest Oregon, it is known for its long, sandy shore and landmark Haystack Rock. Seasonally used by puffins, Haystack rock is a wonderful landmark to photograph with the Milky Way as Cannon Beach is a great place to photograph the ocean and Milky Way, plus other DSLR landscapes.
Stub Stewart State Park
Stub Stewart State Park makes the list because it is a wonderful place to go stargazing and is used by many, including the Rose City Astronomers and OMSI for their star parties. The site has trees on the Eastern half of the sky, blocking the viewing of rising astronomical objects, but has a benefit of blocking out the light from neighboring cities such as Hillsboro and Portland. This site is used by OMSI and the Rose City Astronomers for their star parties, and is a fantastic place to use a telescope and take photos with a camera.
Trillium Lake is a wonderful state park in the Mount Hood for recreation, camping, and astronomy. The campground is quite popular and is not far from the quaint town of Government Camp. The lake and area a great, family-friendly place to camp, with fishing and boating and hiking being popular daytime recreation activities. at night, the view of Mount Hood to the North provides an amazing backdrop for astronomy photos, such as when the aurora borealis is visible.
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.
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