Nebraska February 22, 2018
This Enchanting Star Park Will Let You Experience Nebraska Like Never Before
As a predominantly rural state, Nebraska enjoys plenty of areas with skies dark enough to see millions of stars at night. But there’s one special place that’s considered the very best spot in the state to go stargazing.
Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area, located on the southeastern edge of McKelvie National Forest near Valentine, is well known as one of the most spectacular outdoor recreation areas in Nebraska.
The gorgeous Sandhills location draws outdoors enthusiasts all year round for its superior fishing, boating, camping, hunting, wildlife watching - and stargazing, of course.
The recreation area is miles and miles away from any cities (or even towns), making it the perfect place to go when you need to get away from civilization for a little while.
This removal from populated areas - and the lights found in those areas - also makes Merritt Reservoir an ideal place to see some spectacular sights at night. That's why this is the location of the annual Nebraska Star Party.
Every summer, amateur and pro astronomers come together to experience this one-of-a-kind location and enjoy the untamed beauty of the Nebraska Sandhills.
The week-long event centers on the observation of the spectacular nighttime sights, but it's much more than that. There are games, barbecues, astronomy lessons, a swap meet, and, of course, camping and other outdoor activities. Many attendees even make it into their annual family vacation.
This is, without a doubt, the place to be for anyone who's ever stared up at the stars in wonder. Even if you've never looked through a telescope before, the Nebraska Star Party is the perfect place to learn more about astronomy.
Workshops and lessons will help beginners understand the stars and the equipment used to observe them. Experienced stargazers are always friendly and willing to help newcomers observe and photograph the spectacular sights.
The Nebraska Star Party organizers are working to have Merritt Reservoir named an official International Dark Sky Park, a designation reserved for places of "exceptional nighttime beauty, dark skies education, and preservation of the nighttime environment." That description certainly fits this park perfectly.
You don’t have to wait for the official Star Party to enjoy Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area’s stargazing and other excellent outdoor activities. The recreation area is open to visitors all year, and it’s well worth a visit.
While you’re in the area, why not check out all of the other
amazing outdoor recreational activities that the Valentine area has to offer?