Watoga State Park

Go stargazing at this state park in Pocahontas County, West Virginia, that is home to the largest designated dark-sky zone east of the Mississippi River. 

Night sky reflected in lake at Watoga State Park in Pocahontas County, West Virginia (photo by Jessie Thornton)

Covering 10,000 acres, Watoga State Park is the largest of West Virginia’s state parks, and it lies within the biggest designated dark-sky zone east of the Mississippi River. Stay at one of the park’s 34 rental cabins or three campgrounds for an all-night look at the constellations. 

For some of the most unobstructed views of the night sky, park staffers recommend checking out the Watoga Lake Dam. This spot, conveniently located near the park’s headquarters, provides extremely dark skies thanks to the surrounding mountains that block out artificial light. The Ann Bailey Trailhead is also recommended for stargazing because of the 360-degree view from the parking lot. 

Travelers who are not staying overnight on the premises can call and let staffers know they will be stargazing beyond the park’s 10 p.m. closure. Stick around the next day for fishing, paddleboarding and more than 40 miles of hiking trails. Visitor Center: 4800 Watoga Park Rd., Marlinton, West Virginia 24954, 304/799-4087, wvstateparks.com