Best Stargazing Spots on the Central Coast
Stargazing is best in a remote location when the skies are clear. It also helps to have a high elevation, like up on a mountain or hill; and the brightest stars can be seen when one is miles away from a busy city. The plains, hills, and mountains within San Luis Obispo county offer some great stargazing locations. A short drive away from town will find you in the heart of the wilderness, perfect for viewing the expansive Milky Way and pointing out your favorite constellations. Here are some of the best spots for stargazing within San Luis Obispo county!
Santa Margarita Lake KOA
This KOA is a private campground space with yurts, cabins, and even a nine-hole disc golf course! Near Santa Margarita Lake and its rustic open spaces, this KOA campground is perfect for stargazing due to the remote location and clear country skies. The Central Coast Astronomical Society holds regular star parties there, which you can learn more about here.
If you’re staying in San Luis Obispo and want a stargazing experience that is a bit more accessible, head to downtown SLO to pay a visit to Terrace Hill. The Central Coast Astronomy Club offers star shows here an hour after sunset on select dates, where they will acquaint you with the night sky and our Milky Way galaxy. Park on Augusta Street, and follow a five-minute walk up to the top of the hill. If you visit before nightfall, you’ll see great views of SLO and its morros, but by night you can see the stars.
Deep in the Carizzo Plains, about 60 miles east of the coast, Soda Lake is far removed from the lights of San Luis Obispo, making the star show unforgettably bright. The lake, which is sometimes dry but now brimming due to our heavy rains this season, is a large salt deposit in the midst of the rolling plains in the mountains east of Santa Margarita. It’s a very remote spot, so bring water and food, and you can even camp if you don’t want to drive back in the night.
Montana De Oro State Park
Stargazing might not be your top priority at a park with over 8,000 acres of wildflower-filled hills, mountains, and ocean cliffs. But Montana de Oro is far enough removed from the larger towns of San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles that the sky is clear and stargazing opportunities are stunning. As long as it’s a clear night, you should be able to see the Milky Way; a welcome respite from busy city life.