Lighthouse on Sapelo Island, Georgia. Photo by @benjamingalland
Stephen C. Foster State Park
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
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.