Have you or your kids been able to see the Milky Way recently, or ever? Is light pollution
making only a fraction of the stars viewable where you live? If you answered yes to these
questions, it’s time to head to Lake Hudson State Recreation Area’s Dark Sky Preserve in
Clayton, Michigan, which is right here in Lenawee County.
In 1993, Lake Hudson State Recreation Area, which is managed by W.J. Hayes State Park,
became the very first “Dark Sky Preserve” in Michigan. The preserve provides a low light
area for night sky viewing that also allows other park users access and availability for other
activities. The park uses lighting fixtures that minimize light pollution and motion sensors on
lights when possible. There are no strict rules regarding light usage, but it is requested that
all visitors are aware of their light usage in the campground and in their cars.
“The Dark Sky Preserve is busy during certain times of the month, when there are certain
astronomical events happening,” said Pam Ames, a representative from W.J. Hayes State
Park. “During the winter, visitors are permitted in the preserve at any time, since the
campground is closed. From April to November, Lake Hudson is closed in areas outside the
campground from 10:00 PM to 8:00 AM.”
Ames also added that observing outside the campground during this time frame is permitted
if the park is contacted ahead of time at (517) 467-7401.
The Dark Sky Preserve has made Lake Hudson State Recreation Area a favorite spot for
photographers and astronomers looking for stunning views of the night sky. Local
astronomical observers recommend setting up at the Picnic or Beach parking areas as they
tend to be less used in the nighttime. This webpage for the Clear Sky Chart gives an
astronomer’s forecast for the Lake Hudson State Recreation Area. You can refer to this page
to make sure there are optimal conditions for viewing planets and galaxies with your
Lake Hudson State Recreation Area is about 2,200 acres and surrounds the 600-acre Lake
Hudson. The park offers a semi-modern campground, picnic area, boat launch and a beach.
The park is located at 5505 Morey Hwy in Clayton, Michigan, situated between Adrian and
Hudson in Lenawee County. Visitors need a Michigan Recreation Passport to enter the park.
Recreation passports are just $11 a year for Michigan registered vehicles and permit access
to 103 state parks and recreation areas.