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Methow Dark Sky Viewing Locations

The Methow Vally has some of the darkest skies in Washington State and the country. The locations below are some suggested locations, accessible by car, for stargazing but any location with a view of the night sky and away from town lights will be rewarding.  

Gunn Ranch Road

A short drive from Winthrop with dark skies and good views of horizon to the east, south and west.  Can Park at the DNR parking lot (Lewis Butte) but the views are somewhat restricted, especially to the north. A short hike to knolls to the south finds improved views and a view overlooking the valley. There are also good views in many places along Gunn Ranch road especially before heading down toward the Gunn Ranch Ski Trailhead.   Hike Lewis Butte (1100' vertical) for expansive views of the horizon.

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Pearrygin Lake State Park

Pearrygin Lake State park is close to town, is accessible on paved roads, and has pretty good visibility in all directions.  The park ranges will be holding Saturday night interpretive star tours, staffing and weather permitting, starting in late July.  

 

The campgrounds make for fun family trips that can incorporate some dark sky viewing too.

Sun Mountain

Great views in all directions and a nice spot for viewing northern lights.  The image was taken from above the horse stall area and shy of the Sun Mountain Lodge.

The road is paved to Sun Mountain Lodge where this is parking available.  There are a couple of pullouts on the way to the lodge as well.

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Sweet Grass  Butte

Sweetgrass Butte has very dark skies and an expansive view of the night sky.  It is accessible by vehicle starting on Cub Creek road.  The road turns to gravel after a couple of miles.  The road is pretty good for a gravel road though passenger cars should consider parking at the base of the last short uphill stretch.

Harts Pass/Slate Peak

Harts pass/Slate peak is a bit of a drive but the dark skies and the expansive view don’t get any better than this.  There are campgrounds near the pass to make a nice overnight star gazing trip. The Meadows campground has a concrete astronomy pad on top of a small knoll (~100m hike).

The road is narrow and very rough with lots of potholes and washed out areas. All Wheel Drive or 4WD recommended.  Go slow and watch out for sharp rocks in the roadway! Closed to trailers during the summer.

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