Top 5 Dark Sky Sites Within 2 Hours of Portland

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These Unique Sites Have Allowed Us To Capture Images like this

Here is a list of the Top 5 Dark Sky Sites within a 2 hour drive/radius of Portland, Oregon. To make the choice, we chose 1 spot in each cardinal direction of the city, (North, South, East, and West), and 1 wildcard location. The wildcard location is a location that we really enjoy and a wonderful spot to visit.

1. West: Stub Stewart State Park
Bortle Scale: Green
How Far Of A Drive: Less than 1 hour, depending on traffic
Camping Options: Yes
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.

Stub Stewart Sky Glow Skyglow Salem
Sky Glow at Stub Stewart State Park

2. South: Mount Jefferson Area
Bortle Scale: Black Zone
How Far Of A Drive: 2 hours
Camping Options: Yes
The entire Mount Jefferson area is a great opportunity to the south of Portland that has outdoor activities for the whole family during the day and night. With so much to explore, this area is a fun area to go visit.

3. East: Cottonwood Canyon State Park
Bortle Scale: Black Zone
How Far Of A Drive: ~2 hours
Camping Options: Yes
The 2nd largest Oregon State Park has much to offer those looking for a place far away from Portland to be away from the crowds and be outdoors, but close enough for a quick drive. Cottonwood Canyon State Park has been identified a great place for dark skies, which is why the Oregon chapter of the IDA has taken a real effort to designate the park a Dark Sky Site by the IDA. As of the time of this writing, Cottonwood Canyon State Park is not yet a Dark Sky designated place, but the park is dark enough to be designated and does have occasional star parties. There are miles of hiking trails and great camping in the area. Its remoteness makes the park a great place to visit.

Windmill Oregon

4. North: Gifford Pinchot National Forest
Bortle Scale: Black or Blue Zone Depending on where one is
How Far Of A Drive:
Camping Options: Yes
Although the Gifford Pinchot National Forest is not a specific site, the area has a plethora of opportunities for stargazing and viewing the sky. Including areas of Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens, there are a plethora of outdoor, camping, and astronomy opportunities.

5. East: Lost Lake Resort
Bortle Scale: Blue Zone
How Far Of A Drive: 2 hours
Camping Options: Yes
Lost Lake Resort is an amazing place to got visit, both for the outdoor adventures during the day, and amazing nighttime views. Although this isn’t necessarily as dark of a site as some of the other mentions on this list, Lost Lake Resort provides a great site for astronomy. There are a ton of daytime activities such as kayaking, fishing, and hiking to find your adventure.

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These Unique Sites Have Allowed Us To Capture Images like this

6. Trillium Lake

Trillium Lake is a wonderful place to visit and a great place to take photos of Mt. Hood and the Milky Way and/or Aurora.

7. Goldendale Observatory
Goldendale does have great observing and it makes for a good time. It is close to Cottonwood Canyon State Park, which means that if one cannot go to Cottonwood Canyon, Goldendale Observatory is a great option and alternative.

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