For many people sitting in a cozy chair on a cloudless night staring at the stars is a great way to unwind and relax, but I never knew until today that there are actual parks made for doing that too. Have you heard of a Dark Sky Park before, and did you know Illinois is home to one of the best in the world? (My mind is kinda blown right now).

Night shining starry sky, blue space background with stars, cosmos

What Is a Dark Sky Park?

According to the International Dark-Sky Association, a Dark Sky Park is;

a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.

There are only 195 certified Dark Sky Parks throughout the entire world, (see a list of all of them here), and one of the best is right here in Illinois!

Middle Fork River Forest Preserve in Penfield, Illinois

Middle Fork River Forest Preserve was named an official Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association in 2018. Since then the park has continued its mission to provide an excellent nighttime refuge for wildlife, raise awareness about the benefits of a star-filled sky, and give us SPECTACULAR  views...

Things To Do at Middle Fork River Forest Preserve

Middle Fork River Forest Preserve has a bunch of ways to keep the whole family entertained including:

  • boating
  • fishing
  • camping
  • Hiking and equestrian trails
  • Archery...and more.

If all those activities sound too summery, and your main goal is to take in the nighttime delights, you have to find the North waterfowl area so you can snap beautiful pics like these:

For more information about planning a trip to Illinois' only Dark Sky Park, visit the Champaign County Forest Preserve District's website, here.

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