The stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas! As a San Antonio native I have spent many, many hours stargazing at some pretty amazing spots throughout this state. Now I want to pay that forward and share some of my favorite places to go stargazing in San Antonio. This is Texas though, so be ready to drive. Ya’ll know how that goes, if you’ve lived very long in the Lone Star State. Start planning your stargazing road trip now.
A Word About Light Pollution
Light pollution is an issue in this great city, as it is in any city. Light pollution means that the lights of the city around you can block out the light of the stars, preventing you from seeing them. While that does happen, I’ve found a few ways to get around it, as long as you know where to go.
I was originally turned on to McAllister Park by the good folks at the San Antonio Astronomical Association. Located in Uptown, it’s easy to get to and if you show up you’re likely to meet other stargazers. The San Antonio Astronomical Association regularly organizes meetups there. These usually happen on Wednesday nights, so if you’re looking for company plan accordingly.
Hill Country State Natural Area
About an hours drive from the heart of San Antonio are the wide open spaces of the Texas Hill Country. The Hill Country State Natural Area park in particular is a pretty underrated feature of what is already known as one of the most beautiful parts of the state. People already flock here for day hikes, but at night is when it really shines. Find a nice lear spot with a picnic table and set up. I took my two kids and we made a night of it. The view is so great here, many stargazers who show up claim that at the right time of year they can see Mars with the naked eye.
Bullis County Park
Bullis County Park may not be the biggest or most talked about park, but it’s close to where I live and if you’re in San Antonio, probably close to you too. This should be one of your go-to spots.
This is a family oriented park with plenty of nice, quiet areas where you can set up a telescope. It’s also a great place to run into other stargazers and compare gear. Bullis is huge, much bigger than you’d think, and if you’re willing to hike you can get enough altitude to really get above it all and look at the lights of the night sky.
Government Canyon State Natural Area
Only a 20-minute drive from the heart of San Antonio is Government Canyon. The park has only been open to the public for a little over a decade, so many of the trails and areas you will walk to are still a little rough. Because of that, this is the kind of place you’ll want to visit during the day time first, to pick out the best place for you and your telescope to call home for the night.
You’ll have a lot of spots to choose from, this is a huge natural area with plenty to explore and see. It’s also the place I saw Saturn for the first time. I’ll be back and often.
Fort McKavett State Historic Site
Now I know that some of my fellow Texans are reading this right now and calling me insane for recommending Fort McKavett. It’s a long haul from from San Antonio (we did it in a little under two hours) but I this is a place worth going. T
Stars aside ther’es a lot to see and do here. So take the family, a good supply of food and drinks, and make a real adventure of it. Explore the fort during the day and then take in the stars at night. One really fun thing you can do if you have kids ,is get them to pick the spot that you’ll watch the night sky from. This is a very popular stargazing area, so do not be surprised if you have company while you’re out there. As a family stargazing destination Fort McKavett can’t be beat. It’s worth the drive.
Scobee Education Center
If you really want to learn about the wonders of the San Antonio skies then the Scobee Education Center is the place to come. You’ll learn a lot here and the people are really nice. If this list hasn’t done the job, you can ask the people here for the best places to take your telescope, and they’ll have good advice.
There is an entry feel, but it’s well worth it, especially if you have kids. This is the place that inspired my two boys and made them more excited to go out stargazing.
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area
Enchanted Rock has a name that makes it sound like a gateway to some alternate universe or some other cool sci-fi type thing. Instead, on arriving I was treated to one of the most amazing nights of stargazing I have ever had.
Enchanted Rock is incredibly easy to navigate, even at night. For me this is the highest I have ever hiked but it was no problem finding the perfect spot. While this is a long 80 minute drive from the outskirts of San Antonio, it is now one of my favorite places to go.
One word of warning before you start packing your car: This place is insanely popular with stargazers so expect to find a crowd when you come.