Re: Best dark site within easy drive

Sterling DeRamus

I agree. French camp is IMHO the best spot to observe east of the Mississippi in the entire country. Although some spots in the keys might come close to rivaling it. But they’re 12 hours away at least. 

One important point is that French camp caters to astronomers. Elsewhere you may have a problem with the locals who might like to crash those spots and drink. I’ve had that happen and it’s a bit scary. 

French camp though has all the amenities you need. A kitchen, a bathroom with a red light, a bunk house, power, even scopes.  The dew is not the best there though.  Not many good breakfast places close by. No Starbucks. 

On Nov 23, 2021, at 12:58 PM, Jeff Allegrezza <jrallegrezza@...> wrote:

Sounds like French Camp wins.  Thank you, Fred.

On Tue, Nov 23, 2021 at 12:20 PM Fred Rains <fjrains@...> wrote:
Hey there, Jeff.

I can comment on three of them:

Stephen C Foster State Park.  
     We visited there two weeks ago. Bortle 2 skies but the only observation spot is the parking lot across from the office/gift shop and there are lights and A LOT of boats. Has a small campground and was not impressed with maintenance of the spots. A little snug for larger rigs and a lot of trees. Gates close at sundown. If you do go be sure to drive down the “Suwannee River Sill”, a long dam/levee built to control (unsuccessfully) water flow in the Okefenokee. Huge alligators can be seen along its banks.

Chilahatchie Creek
     A USA Corp of Engineers campground and another Bortle 2 sky right here in Alabama. Great place to camp but only observation spot away from lights is an old cemetery (no joke) a short drive back along the road into the campground. Any clouds are black against the sky.

French Camp Academy
   One of my favorite spots. Great observing area that is part of the Rainwater Observatory and Planetarium; associated with the school. Site of the Mid South Stargaze every year. Some camping and  a bunk house onsite and a Bed and Breakfast close by. Very dark Bortle 3 and measured SQM of 21.0. (Chandler Mountain SQM is in the 20.6 range.)

Blackwater state forest (Florida)?  
     Never been to this one but did see a post on Florida panhandle observing here:

Let me know if you find others!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


On Tuesday, November 23, 2021, 10:47:30 AM CST, Jeff Allegrezza <jrallegrezza@...> wrote:

Can anyone rank these nearby dark sites or suggest another?    Something within maybe 6 hours drive?

  • Stdsephen C Foster State Park
  • Chilahatchie Creek
  • French Camp
  • Blackwater state forest (Florida)?  

Just planning future adventures.


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