Milky way

The night sky shines bright on Wednesday Sept. 8. outside Springfield, MO. Most of these stars are outshined by the lights of Springfield but can be spotted with as little as a 40-minute drive to some of the more rural parts of southwest Missouri.

With the widespread presence of light pollution, it can be hard to find nearby places where stargazers can look up and see a sky full of stars. Traveling deeper south toward the Ozarks, people can find locations with very low light pollution, making the area great for stargazing. All three hours away or fewer, check out some of the best stargazing spots near Springfield. 

Buffalo National River

Experience the starry night sky at Buffalo National River in Northern Arkansas, about an hour and a half south of Springfield. 

The Buffalo National River recently gained the status as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association in 2019. The Buffalo National River is the first park in Arkansas to be given this title, according to the National Park Service website. 

Sarah Jellinek, senior dietetics major, said Buffalo National River is one of her favorite spots to see a sky full of stars.

“I went camping there last year and could not believe how well I could see the stars,” Jellinek said. “It was like nothing I had ever seen before.”

To find out more information about stargazing at the Buffalo National River, check out its website at or call 1-870-861-5514. 

Hobbs State Park

Hobbs State Park is the largest state park in Arkansas, located two and half hours southwest of Springfield in Rogers, Arkansas. Because of the minimum human impact, the park offers a great view of low-polluted skies, as well as camping sites and lodging to spend the night, according to its website. 

Donnie Houston, a member of the Facebook group Ozarks Stargazers, said Hobbs State Park is one of his and his wife’s favorite stargazing spots.

“My wife and I have been amateur astronomers for many years,” Houston said. “Our advice is: If given the opportunity for a dark sky location, do not hesitate to go.”

For more information about Hobbs State Park, visit the Arkansas State Parks website at

Mark Twain National Forest

Midway between St. Louis and Springfield in Rolla, the Mark Twain National Forest—the only national forest in Missouri—is a great area for beginning stargazers to check out. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture website, the Mark Twain National Forest is made up of over 1.5 million acres of public land in Missouri, making it a large area for people to explore the best stargazing spots inside the forest. 

The Mark Twain National Forest offers dispersed camping areas where individuals can spend the night, layout and look at the stars. 

To learn more information about the Mark Twain National Forest, visit the United States Department of Agriculture website at or or call 573-364-4621.

River of Life Farm

Located about two hours southeast of Springfield in Dora, the River of Life Farm is a stargazing hotspot. Because of the low light pollution in the area, stargazers get a great view of the Milky Way. 

The River of Life Farm also offers lodging and camping options, nearby restrooms and no additional cost for using observation fields for stargazing, according to their website. 

“The sky at River of Life Farm on a clear, moonless night is breathtaking,” its website stated. 

For more information about stargazing at the River of Life Farm, visit their website at


Follow Paige Nicewaner on Twitter, @indienerdtrash

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