Welcome to the Headlands International Dark Sky Park!
In early May 2011, Emmet County was awarded International Dark Sky Park designation for the Headlands property -- just the sixth such park in the United States and the ninth in the world at the time (a couple more have been named since).
Emmet County is constantly working to provide monthly programming, brochures and detailed information about the dark-sky viewing opportunities over the Headlands. For more information or directions, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (231) 348-1704.
Click here to read the full article about the DSP designation, programming, FAQs and more! The Headlands is located at 15675 Headlands Road, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
The County hosts Dark Sky programs each month at no charge. ** Please note this program schedule is continually updated, with programs being regularly added. Check back often!
Click here for the 2015 program schedule
Click here please to take a survey about what types of programs and events you'd like to see at the Headlands!
Construction planned in 2015
The Headlands is open 24 hours a day, every day, at no charge. Visitors are welcomed to stay out through the night for dark-sky viewing opportunities (camping units are not permitted). You may bring blankets, sleeping bags, chairs, food, beverages, etc. Plan accordingly and dress for temperatures 10 degrees below what you expect.
Of special note for 2015 ...
• Please be aware that major construction will be taking place at the Headlands in 2015 as we build our new program facility at the site of the former Beach House, near the designated Dark Sky Viewing Area. As noted in the program descriptions, some events will take place at Heritage Village viewing area, which is directly across the street from Headlands entrance. This will begin in Spring 2015 and proceed through the remainder of the year.
• Programs take place rain or shine and no reservations are required unless otherwise noted. Program location will be clearly noted in event descriptions and signage at the park. If you have questions about event locations, call (231) 348-1704.
Welcome to the new Skymap feature for the Headlands!
This image below shows the current constellations, stars and planets above the Headlands (notice the timestamp in the upper right-hand corner). Refresh this page to update the map.
Sky map by AstroViewer®
The Dark Sky Discovery Trail enhances the cultural interpretation of the night sky that takes place at the Headlands. It's free and open to the public, though it's not lighted so plan accordingly to be able to read the signage. There is no charge to explore the trail (or to use the park at any time). Please click here for more information about this feature at the Headlands.
The Headlands is open 24 hours a day, every day, at no charge. Click here for the address and directions.
There is no camping allowed; however, visitors are welcomed and encouraged to stay out through the night and early morning hours for night-sky viewing opportunities. You may bring blankets, sleeping bags, chairs, food, beverages, etc.
Plan accordingly and dress for temperatures 10 degrees below what you expect. The park is located on the shore of Lake Michigan and is always cooler than inland.
The public Dark Sky Park programs take place at the Guest House or Dark Sky Viewing Area (unless otherwise noted); follow the signs through the park. It's about a mile drive in from the park entrance. Also, the programs are intended for naked-eye observation; however, you may feel free to bring binoculars or telescopes if you prefer to enhance the experience.
Please note: There are not yet concrete pads in place for telescopes.
If you are heading to the Headlands on a non-program outing, look for the signs for Dark Sky Viewing. There is a designated trail and viewing area along the lakeshore for the public to utilize. Because the Guest House is rented out by the county, it may be occupied at any given time. Please respect the privacy of the occupants and do not enter the building.
Call (231) 348-1704 or email email@example.com if you have further questions.
The Headlands is located about two miles west of downtown Mackinaw City in northwest lower Michigan.
From downtown Mackinaw City, head west on Central Avenue -- the main street through the downtown. Take it as far as it goes, to the T-intersection at Headlands Road. Turn left, or south, on Headlands Road. The Headlands will be a short ways down (about two blocks) on your right. Look for the sign at the entrance.
The physical address is 15675 Headlands Road, Mackinaw City, Michigan.
Parking is available near the designated Dark Sky Viewing Area at the shoreline. It is about 250 feet from the parking area to the viewing area. Parking is also available at the entrance to the park off of Headlands Road. It is about one mile from the entrance to the Dark Sky Viewing Area.
Portable restroom facilities are available 24/7 near the Dark Sky Viewing Area.
Dogs are allowed at the Headlands as long as they are on a leash. And please remember to pick up after your pet so everyone can enjoy the park experience!
Dogs are not allowed inside the buildings at the Headlands.
Camping is not allowed at the Headlands. For those who would like to camp near the Headlands, there are several options:
Mackinaw Mill Creek Camping (approx. 10 minutes away)
KOA Kampground (approx. 5 minutes away)
Tee Pee Campground (approx. 10 minutes away)
Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga, owned and operated by Camp Pet-O-Se-Ga is located about 30 minutes away in Alanson.
Sign up for email alerts
The county's Dark Sky Park team offers an email news alert service to inform those who register about what to watch for in the night sky, interesting dark-sky facts and fun information, and also updates about our Dark Sky Park programming. The email blasts are sent about every two weeks.
To sign up, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Where can you post a comment?
Emmet County staff and Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams would love to hear your feedback on programs and the Headlands, and also your ideas on how we could improve or what we're doing right!
How can you ask a question for the star lore historian?
Contact Mary directly: (231) 838-8181 or email her at email@example.com
The 2015 program brochure can be downloaded by clicking here.
Long after the time many are fast asleep, Shawn Stockman-Malone is headed to work photographing some of the most brilliant night-sky activities over Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula.
Over the past year, Stockman-Malone, who has been a featured presenter at the Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Emmet County, has created a stunning time-lapse compilation of various night sky events from 2012. Shooting stars whiz past, the aurora borealis dances in a symphony of colors, nebulae appear, wildlife meander by and a lightning storm dazzles in these scenes captured after dark at the top of Michigan. Some of the scenes feature Emmet County's Headlands park.
Stockman-Malone calls the end result "electrified cosmic goodness." Check it out and see for yourself what happens after dark in Northern Michigan by clicking on the video below.(Information from Shawn on the video-host site details how she captured the images and some of her personal highlights of the experience.)
In the end, she tells why she did it: "I hope it inspires others to take time to find the beauty that is everywhere around us and also to raise an awareness about the importance of preserving our night wondrous starlit skies."
About every two weeks, Dark Sky Park Program Director Mary Stewart Adams records a video email blast detailing upcoming night-sky happenings, celestial stories, program information and more. To watch past videos, click here.
To register for the email blasts, email firstname.lastname@example.org
T-shirts and hats featuring the Dark Sky Park at the Headlands are available. Proceeds benefit future Dark Sky Park efforts.