5 places to spend the night under the stars

April 28, 2022  |  Permalink

There is something about sitting out under the night sky. On a clear evening with a new moon, the canopy of stars engulfs you, evoking a sense of wonder and mesmerizing pleasure. So where do you go to see such beauty? Many of our cities and modern conveniences pollute the night sky. This light pollution makes it difficult to enjoy the splendor of the stars. Fortunately, there are several great parks in Tennessee where you can, “Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

Please Note: As a general rule, our parks and trails close around sunset. If you want to see the stars you’ll need to spend the night (by reserving a campsite, cabin, or lodge room) or register for a stargazing program at one of our parks.

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park

The best place to start your stargazing adventure is at Pickett CCC Memorial State Park. Located an hour north of Crossville, Pickett was the first state park in the Southeast to earn the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) certification. This designation means the park has a low level of light polluting the night sky. You might be asking, “how dark is dark?” Well, the park took a series of measurements and converted them to the Bortle Sky Scale. This scale ranges from one to nine, with one representing “inky black darkness”. Pickett has Bortle Class 3 skies.

Pickett CCC Memorial State Park hosts many astronomy days and viewing parties throughout the year. The park has cabins and campsites that make it a perfect star lover’s getaway.



Big Hill Pond State Park

For some of the best dark sky views in west Tennessee, you'll want to check out Big Hill Pond State Park. The park lies in an area that experiences little light pollution and makes a great location for camping under the stars.



Edgar Evins State Park

Situated on the banks of Center Hill Lake, Edgar Evins State Park is a great location for night sky viewing. Park staff has shot some amazing night photographs looking out over the water. They even offer classes on nighttime photography. The park is the closest and most accessible for night sky viewing in the Nashville area. It is just 70 miles east of the city.

Experience the night sky at Edgar Evins by renting a cabin or campsite.  



Harrison Bay State Park

If you’re searching for the stars close to Chattanooga, look no further than Harrison Bay State Park. Harrison Bay sits on Chickamauga Lake, 18 miles northeast of downtown. The park’s position on the eastern bank allows guests to watch the sunset out over the water, and follow that up with a stargazing encore.

Experience the night sky at Harrison Bay by renting one of the RV or tent camping sites.



Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park

If you want to view the night sky near Memphis, what better way than looking out over the Mississippi River? Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is 18 miles north of downtown and offers westward views out over the waters. 

Experience the night sky at Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park by renting one of the cabins or campsites.



Remember to Follow Park Rules

The night sky is a beautiful thing, and we want you to enjoy it at our parks. We just want to make sure you do it in a safe and respectful way. Obey all park rules during your visit. Remain mindful of your surroundings and do not trespass into areas that are off-limits or closed.  Check with the park office before venturing on to trails at night. Many trails close after certain times.

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