Michigan’s Headlands Dark Sky Park! See The Milky Way IRL
Recently Beanie and I headed wayyyy north to attend the 2016 Michigan Paracon. Paracon = Paranormal Convention. 👻 On our way, the big plan was to stop at Michigan’s Headlands Dark Sky Park. A Dark Sky Park is an area certified by the International Dark Sky Association. There are only 65 of these designated incredible night viewing areas in the entire world. The U.S. is home to roughly 17 of these areas, but the number is slowly climbing.
Headlands Dark Sky Park is located at the tippy top of lower Michigan in Mackinaw City. From Metro Detroit, it’ll take around 4 hours to get there.
Truth time: I am seveeeerrrely afraid of the dark. That said, visiting the Dark Sky Park was not the best idea I’ve ever had in my life. 😂 I don’t know why, but I HIGHLY underestimated how dark PITCH black actually is.
We arrived at Headlands at approximately 1 am. Not even kidding, I turned the car off and couldn’t see ANYTHING outside of the car. I was in nothingness. I shined my flashlight out the window and still could barely see anything.
I sat in the car with Bean for close to an hour. My mind was racing… who was out there?? How far was the path to the actual Dark Sky Area?? What if the only person out there taking pictures is a murderer???
I was losing hope. It wasn’t worth it to possibly put Bean and I in danger. Just as I was about to give up and drive away, a younger guy and girl approached the van parked next to me. They hung out for about 10 minutes before I cracked open my door. …”Is the path like really long? I’m scared..” I said. The guy told me it was pretty far, but they just came back to grab snacks, and I could walk back with them if I liked.
I got out of the car, got Bean on his leash, and packed up the camera. I noticed the guy had a tambourine in his van, at this point I was pretty convinced he wasn’t a murderer. Everything was gonna be fine.
MACKINAW CITY MILKY WAY MADNESS
So from the parking lot, to the shore, where you’re actually supposed to fully grasp the magic of the Dark Sky Park, the walk is FAR. It’s over a mile. Which in the daylight seems fine, in pitch black, it seems like an eternity. I had a flashlight and I was still scared. And I don’t even know how Bean could see where he was walking. I couldn’t see the faces of the people I was walking with. They had a camping headlight thing with a red light, red light is easier on the eyes in this kind of darkness, so you readers might wanna pick one of those up.
After awhile, we finally reached the shore, and it was pretty epic. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many stars in my entire life. And the waves are crashing.. and it’s so quiet… One of those lucky to be alive moments.
I took some photos, and sat with my new faceless friends. They had two more friends with them. The guy I’d met at the van had a guitar, he played an original song, and it will forever be the soundtrack to that night.
At this point I wished it wasn’t 3 am. Wished I had a couple more hours under the stars. But I had another hour to drive to my hotel in Sault Ste Marie. The other set of friends were getting ready to leave so I asked if I could head back with them. They didn’t have a flashlight and I did, so they were just as happy to have me as I was to have them.
All in all, this was another awesome solo travel success story. It can be super scary traveling out in the world all by yourself, but sometimes all the stars align, and everything works out. 😉
Now onto my favorite weird cosmic moment of the whole trip… So I continued on after the Dark Sky Park, and spent that weekend at the Paranormal Convention. Saw some good friends, heard tons of crazy stories.. Hauntings, Vampires, Poltergeists, you name it… Once I was home, I got an email from my new friend the faceless guitar player. He asked how I liked the CD he gave me. I hadn’t even unpacked yet, so I dug through my bag to find it. I pulled it out, and to my surprise…
The album is called “I Wrote This To A Ghost.” 😱❤️👻 🌌
• Bring a friend with you.
• Bring a flashlight. Red light is best.
• Listen to Marco Aziel’s album ‘cuz it’s kind of amazing. Listen here: I Wrote This To A Ghost 🎶
• Headlands Dark Sky Park address: 15675 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, MI 49701
• Find a Dark Sky Park near you! → darksky.org