Where to Go Stargazing in Montana

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Today we want to share with you something special:

Travel to these small towns and remote locations to experience the night sky, avoid the crowds, and immerse yourself in the stars!

Affectionately known as "Big Sky Country," Montana's glorious blue skies seem to stretch out forever, but the heavenly expanse we love really shines at night. While nearly 80% of the United States cannot see the Milky Way, Montana's dark skies are one of the last places to see the stars as everyone else.

While larger cities like Bozeman, Missoula, Kalispell, Great Falls, and Billings don't offer the best night views, there are plenty of opportunities beyond your brilliant reach. On the west side of the state, Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park received a dark sky designation from the International Dark-Sky Association in 2017. In 2019, a 20-inch PlaneWave telescope was installed at the Dusty Star dome observatory in St. Mary Visitor O Center and Glacier National Park often hosts famous festivals throughout the season.

But the truly dark skies belong to the eastern half of the state, where you only need to travel 5-10 miles from small towns to immerse yourself in the starry skies.

1. Medicine Rocks State Park

Rock arches and perforated sandstone pillars, some 24 meters high, adorned with cave paintings and ancient signatures from the 19th century, are proof that this area has been calling people for centuries. When Theodore Roosevelt passed through the area in 1883 on his way to the Black Hills in South Dakota, he described it: "Such a fantastically beautiful place as I have never seen it." Now, like Medicine Rocks State Park, which is in the process of applying for a dark sky designation through IDA, visitors can enjoy almost the same night skies as early travelers.

Camp at the 12 campgrounds (on a first-come, first-served basis) at Medicine Rocks State Park for the best chance of seeing the night sky as long as you can stay awake, or choose to travel 12 miles south to the small town of Ekalaka, where you can find lodging and restaurants. During the day, be sure to visit the Carter County Museum, which features excellent exhibits on dinosaurs, First Peoples heritage, and the colonization of Montana.

2. Brush Lake State Park

Located in the northeast corner of the state, swimming and water sports are popular activities on the 2,800-acre lake during the day. Brush Lake is also a great spot for stargazing at night and is another park that is being considered for a dark sky designation. Some places can be reserved at the campground and inns and restaurants in Plentywood or Medicine Lake, both within a 25 to 30-mile radius of the park.

3. Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge (CMR)

The CMR spans more than a million acres in the northeast and north-central Montana for those looking for a truly remote landscape. While there is more light pollution in the town of Fort Peck, where the massive Fort Peck Dam is located, the visitor center is an interesting stop.

After venturing beyond the dam in the strong waves, the night sky is practically limitless. Hell Creek State Park along the south side of Fort Peck Reservoir has an exceptional dark sky rating, making it a great destination for stargazing. He still has a large camp with electrical hookups.

There are a multitude of more pristine camping opportunities throughout CMR, including the James Kipp Recreation Area near the Slippery Ann Elk Viewing Area, which is the place to be in September and October when the bull moose puts on a show during the cio.

Although the scenery is impressive, it is important to pay attention to the weather when traveling in this area. The gravel roads are made from a fine, natural clay base that turns into what the locals call a gumbo when it rains or snows, making them impassable until it dries, which luckily is usually quite fast.

Many visitors use Lewistown as their base for less rustic conditions, where there are numerous hotels, restaurants, and shopping opportunities. Or, in the far north, travel 20 miles to the larger city of Glasgow, where there is also an Amtrak station for those traveling by train.

We hope you enjoy watching this video about Montana Travel Guide

Source: Check Facts 360

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