Here is a list of the Top 4 Dark Sky Sites within a 2 hour drive of Eugene, 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 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.
Christmas Valley, Oregon
Christmas Valley is a remote town in central Oregon that has several fantastic natural attractions for daytime visit and amazing nighttime viewing. As it is extremely remote, the site has little to no light pollution allowing for near pristine observing. However, it is noting that camping is limited ,other than Green Mountain Campground, located to the north of the town.
Prineville Reservior 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.
An extinct stratovolcano, Broken Top is a wonderful night sky destination due to the beautiful nature and remoteness. However, this remoteness makes the site a hard location to visit, which is located 20 miles west of the city of Bend. To reach the site, one must hike into the Three Sisters Wilderness, which will provide amazing views of the surrounding nature such as No Name Lake.
Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory
Located near the Cascade Mountains, the Sunriver Nature Center and Observatory is the first International Dark Sky Association (IDA) International Dark Sky Places to be recognized in the state of Oregon. There are 142 recognized places as the time of this writing, which means that there are lighting restrictions on residential and community buildings and a minimum of street light. This means that Sunriver is a great place to do astronomy without having to go camping or be out in the wilderness.
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.