International Dark Sky Park
- 2013 & 2014 Dark Sky Park Programs
- Dark Sky Discovery Trail at the Headlands!
- About the park: What you need to know
- Getting to the Headlands
- Parking and restroom facilities
- Are pets allowed at the park?
- Where to camp nearby
- Reach out, stay informed!
- Spectacular video shows what's happening over Northern Michigan after dark
- Watch past video email blasts
- Dark Sky Park clothing now available!
- Photo Albums
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 email@example.com or call (231) 348-1704.
Click here to read the full article about the DSP designation, programming, FAQs and more!
2013 & 2014 Dark Sky Park Programs
The County hosts Dark Sky programs each month at no charge. For the schedule of 2013 programs, click here. ** Please note this program schedule is continually updated, with programs being regularly added. Check back often!
NEW! Click here for 2014 program schedule
NEW! Click here please to take a survey about what types of programs and events you'd like to see at the Headlands!
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®
Dark Sky Discovery Trail at the Headlands!
On Nov. 11, 2012, the Dark Sky Discovery Trail opened to the public! There is no charge to explore the trail (or to use the park at any time). Please click here for more information about this new feature at the Headlands.
About the park: What you need to know
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 Beach House (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 two properties on the acreage are rented out by the county, they may be occupied at any given time. Please respect the privacy of the occupants and do not enter the buildings (the Beach House and the Guest House).
Call (231) 348-1704 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions.
Getting to the Headlands
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 with Wilderness Park Drive. Turn left, or south, on Wilderness Park Drive. The Headlands will be a short ways down (about two blocks) on your right. Look for the sign at the entrance and "open" flags.
The physical address is 7725 E. Wilderness Park Dr., Mackinaw City, Michigan.
Parking and restroom facilities
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 Wilderness Park Drive. 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.
Are pets allowed at the park?
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.
Where to camp nearby
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.
Reach out, stay informed!
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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Spectacular video shows what's happening over Northern Michigan after dark
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."
Watch past video email blasts
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 email@example.com
Dark Sky Park clothing now available!
T-shirts and hats featuring the Dark Sky Park at the Headlands are now available. Proceeds benefit future Dark Sky Park efforts.
Click an image to enter a Photo Album