Dark Sky Parks in IA

List of darkest places in Iowa for stargazing, astrophotography, star parties, and club events. Often these are national and state parks and forests that are either remote or "protected" against light pollution.

National parks often let you stay overnight under the stars, hence their motto - "Half the park is after dark".

The IDA column indicates if a site is IDA-certified. Bortle scale for sites is given where known. Also use your local astronomy club for guidance as they will know the darkest places.

NAME BORTLE
Eden Valley Wildlife Reserve
Lake Darling State Park 3
Lake of Three Fires State Park 3
Lake Sugema
Lake Wapello State Park 3
Loess Hills State Forest 3
Moore-Gosch Memorial Park 3
Nine Eagle State Park 2
Okamanpedan State Park 3
Palisades-Kepler State Park
Prairie Rose State Park 3
Preparation Canyon State Park 3
Rock Creek State Park 3
Springbrook State Park 3
Stephens State Forest 3
Whiterock Conservancy
Yellow River State Forest 3


Light Pollution Map w/ Bortle

On the left is a 2019 satellite image of IA showing light pollution from the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center. On the right is a 2015 light pollution map showing sky brightness at the zenith from World Atlas data. Colors correspond approximately to the Bortle scale. Use as a guide to find the darkest sky locations near you.

IA night sky light pollution map