What You Need To Know

Three areas for Dark Sky Viewing:

  • Campground - Level 1
    There is dark sky approved lighting throughout the campground
  • Sugar Creek - Level 2
    No lighting, restroom, open air shelter
  • North Waterfowl Area - Level 3
    Very dark, no restrooms or amenities

Download the Middle Fork River Forest Preserve Map

ARE PUBLIC RESTROOMS AVAILABLE?

Restroom (Outface) facilities are available 24/7 Campground Showerhouse is open April-October. There is a restroom at Sugar Creek.

WHERE DO THE DARK SKY PROGRAMS TAKE PLACE?

The public Dark Sky Park programs typically take place in a combination of the Activity Center for a presentation and informational segment with the star viewing taking place at the North Waterfowl area.

IS CAMPING ALLOWED?

Camping is allowed only in designated camping areas.
https://www.ccfpd.org/forest-preserve/middle-fork-river/campground

ARE PETS ALLOWED AT THE PARK?

Dogs ARE allowed as long as they are on a leash. And, please remember to pick up after your pet so everyone can enjoy the park experience.

CAN I USE A REGULAR FLASHLIGHT?

The Dark Sky Park is indeed very dark. We recommend visitors bring red-filtered flashlights only, so as to not disturb the vision of other park users. White light can ruin the viewing opportunities presented at Middle Fork, for yourself and others. You can make your own red-filtered flashlight by taking red plastic wrap (or coloring clear plastic wrap red) and covering the tip of the flashlight. (Check for the special red wrap around the winter holidays in particular and stock up!) Here’s one way to get started making a night-vision flashlight.

WHAT IS A DARK SKY PARK?

Middle Fork River Forest Preserve received designation in November 2018. The designation is awarded by the International Dark Sky Association in Tucson, Arizona, the oldest organization dedicated to protecting and stewarding natural darkness in the world. When the Headlands achieved the designation, it was just the sixth such park in the United States and only the ninth in the world. As a result, the Headlands have enjoyed a great deal of success, and more importantly, the park has been part of a very dynamic, international movement to protect natural darkness worldwide. The International Dark Sky Association now recognizes over 70 international dark sky parks worldwide.

International Dark-Sky Association Logo