The Milky Way galaxy over Brasstown Bald in winter. Photo by @paulbickfordphotography
15 Best Stargazing Spots in Georgia
For unbelievable views of the stars over Georgia, head to these quiet spots across the state.
There's nothing quite like staring up at constellations, feeling completely solitary in nature. The best places for stargazing are those away from the light pollution of cities and towns. Thankfully, Georgia has plenty of wide-open spaces.
Fall and winter are the best times to go stargazing in Georgia as temperatures drop, skies become more clear and nights are longer. But, you can still see quite well in spring and summer. Come prepared with essentials like binoculars or a telescope, and choose one of these quiet spots to look up and take in the starry sky.
Stephen C. Foster State Park
Stephen C. Foster State Park in Okefenokee Swamp was the first Georgia site to be certified as a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. Its remoteness allows visitors to see the Milky Way from the comfort of their campground.
As the highest point in Georgia, it's no surprise that Brasstown Bald is ideal for catching a glimpse of the night sky. The parking lot is open at night, and the lights from the visitors center are turned off so there's no glow from the nearby towns.
Fed by the Coosawattee River, Carters Lake is Georgia's deepest lake. By day, you'll see visitors enjoying all ranges of outdoor recreation like swimming, boating, fishing, and birdwatching. But by night, admire the celestial bodies from the boat ramp near Carters Lake Marina & Resort.
If you want to disconnect from city life, Cohutta Wilderness in the Chattahoochee National Forest is the place to do it. Spread across nearly 40,000 acres, it's far enough from any nearby towns to be considered a dark zone. Before your night of stargazing, take advantage of the many trails of varying skill levels.
Also within Chattahoochee National Forest is Cooper's Creek Wildlife Management Area. Located in Suches, south of Blairsville and Blue Ridge, it boasts 30,000 acres of hiking and mountain biking trails on old logging roads. Take advantage of its campsites to get the best views of the sky over multiple evenings.
Fort Mountain State Park
Located near Ellijay, Fort Mountain State Park was founded in 1938 and was named for a rock wall inside the 3,000-acre boundary. The Civilian Conservation Corps-built fire tower is one of the best viewpoints in the park. After a night of stargazing, tuck into one of the park's 80 campsites and cottages.
Only 15 minutes from Helen, Hogpen Gap is one of the most stunning viewpoints on the Appalachian Trail. If you're not making the hike from Georgia to Maine, fret not. You can enjoy the nighttime views from the scenic overlook on the Russell–Brasstown Scenic Byway, which winds through the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Moccasin Creek State Park
Clarkesville's 32-acre Moccasin Creek State Park is popular for nature lovers looking to enjoy fishing, kayaking, and hiking. But its location also makes it ideal for stargazing. The park closes at 10 p.m., but visitors can use the public boat ramps on Lake Burton to admire the twinkling stars.
Between Clayton and Hiawassee is the uniquely named Popcorn Overlook. The roadside turnoff from Highway 76 is considered to be one of the best spots for stargazing in North Georgia. It's open year-round, managed by the U.S. Forest Service, and has informational panels describing the area.
A stone outcropping called Preacher's Rock is a popular day hike on the Appalachian Trail from Woody Gap. Less than two miles in length, it's a convenient option for admiring the night sky if you're staying in Dahlonega or Suches. Even if you don't want to hike, the views from the parking lot are impressive, as well.
Second only to Brasstown Bald, Rabun Bald is a 4,000-foot peak near Sky Valley. Set on National Forest land, a fire tower at the top provides views of up to 100 miles away. If you're visiting at night, you'll face a three-mile hike to reach the top, so be sure to bring your headlamp.
Vogel State Park
Vogel State Park sits at the base of Blood Mountain and is one of the state's oldest parks. When the leaves change colors in the fall, it's an amazing sight by day but is just as stunning at night. Stay at one of the backcountry sites for the best views of the Georgia sky.
North Georgia isn't the only place for stargazing! While Jekyll Island may seem like a lively beach town, its state park status means that there are plenty of stretches without commercial properties. Driftwood Beach is a popular spot for photos during the day, but at night, the sun-bleached trees become an otherworldly backdrop against the stars.
St. Simons Island
Although not as remote as some of the other locations on this list, the night sky reflecting on the water on St. Simons Island is incredible. Catch the best views from the pier or at the foot of the St. Simons Lighthouse Museum.
A short drive from downtown Savannah, Tybee Island is a charming beach community. Tucked away from the main drag of shops and restaurants, the southern end of the island is quieter and, thereby, better for spotting stars. Bring a blanket to the beach for the full experience.