I've learned a couple of things over the last 24 hours that I never knew before. One, there are places called Dark Sky Parks, and two, Illinois has one in a forest preserve about 3 hours from Rockford.

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The Name Dark Sky Park Is Somewhat Self-Explanatory, But There's More To It Than Just Having A Dark Place

Depending on where you live here in Illinois, you may have been disappointed when you tried to look up into the night sky and see more than a few stars twinkling overhead. We've recently experienced meteor showers, the Christmas Comet, and even a peek at the Northern Lights---but many of us don't get a good luck because there's too much light in the sky.

That's why it's so cool that Illinois has Middle Fork River Forest Preserve in Champaign County.

Jake Schultz, Facebook
Jake Schultz, Facebook
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International Dark Sky Association, Facebook
International Dark Sky Association, Facebook
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There's More To Middle Fork River Forest Preserve Than The Dark Skies At Night

This beautiful spot in Penfield, Illinois is a Waterfowl Management Area, featuring over 130 acres used by nesting migratory waterfowl. There's also great hiking, fishing, wildlife viewing and bird watching, all in addition to being the only Dark Sky Park in Illinois.

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While there are over 100 Dark Sky Parks globally, and 78 scattered throughout the U.S., there are only 6 officially recognized Dark Sky Parks in the Midwest:

  • Geauga Observatory Park (Montville Township, OH)
  • Headlands Park (Emmet County, MI)
  • Dr. T.K. Lawless County Park (Jones, MI)
  • Newport State Park (Ellison Bay, WI)
  • Middle Fork River Forest Preserve (Penfield, IL)
  • Voyageurs National Park (International Falls, MN)
A person is standing next to the Milky Way galaxy pointing on a bright star.
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7 Fascinating Things To Do in Illinois That Aren’t in Chicago

A recent survey says Illinois is one of the most fun states in the U.S.. Truth is that Chicago is the biggest reason, but there's so much more than the Windy City.