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Newport State Park, Wisconsin’s only wilderness state park, is also the first state park in Wisconsin designated by IDA as an International Dark Sky Park, one of just 48 parks in the world to earn the distinction. Newport joins the ranks of such U.S. National Parks as Big Bend, Glacier, and Grand Canyon.
Located at the northern tip of Door County on the western shore of Lake Michigan, Newport has a dark sky that offers excellent nighttime viewing with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon. As a designated wilderness park, the 2,373-acre park offers only backpack camping and has minimal developments beyond the park office and a picnic area with a park shelter.
Many stargazers visit after the sun has set and get a great view from parking lots 1 or 3. Bring your own chairs and blankets and lean back for a spectacular presentation of the stars. The park hours are open until 11pm, but are flexible based on dark sky viewing as long as rules and etiquette are maintained. Visit this link for full details on park rules.
A vehicle admission sticker is required on all vehicles stopping in state park, forest, recreation area, and trail parking areas. Buy your sticker at the park or in advance. Annual stickers offer admission to all state parks for the calendar year.
The hike-in only camping ensures you’re going to be truly out in the darkness, and an overnight experience means there’s no limit to your dark sky viewing! On a clear night at Newport visitors can see thousands of stars and the Milky Way in a brightness that’s rare even in other rural areas. This makes the rustic, hike-in-only campsites at Newport a favorite of those who love to camp in solitude, photographers, and amateur astronomers.
Universe in the Park is a popular outreach program of the UW-Madison Astronomy Department and is predicated on a very simple idea: the best environment in which to introduce the general public to astronomy is outside under dark skies. The UitP session begins with a 20-30 minute talk and slide presentation covering a broad view of astronomy and recent astronomical news. Following the presentation, a telescope is set up to view whatever astronomical objects are available. Question and answer period follows around the telescope.
While the full moon can lessen the brightness of surrounding stars, it’s still an incredible way to experience the night sky and the park at night. Join the park naturalist on this night hike. We'll let our eyes adjust to the moonlight and hike the 2 mile Monarch Trail, watching and listening for the sights and sounds of the night. If needed, bring a flashlight or head lamp with a red lens. Meet at Lot 1. In case of rain, program will be cancelled.
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