6 Best Places to Stargaze and Shoot Milky Way in Smokies


Discover the mysteries of space in the Smoky Mountains, which have some of the country's darkest skies and are ideal for astrophotographers.

Set out on your stargazing adventure in the Smokies with a variety of alternatives catered to your tastes and availability. Find the best 6 locations for Milky Way photography.

At 6,200 feet, the highest point in the Blue Ridge Mountains provides exceptional vision and minimal light pollution. Simple half-mile hike to the summit campsites.

Black Balsam Knob


Clingmans Dome at 6400 ft offers stunning Milky Way views but limited camping accessibility within 15 miles and unpredictable conditions.

Clingmans Dome


With an elevation of 5,600 ft, Huckleberry Knob offers clear Milky Way views. Easy access from Cherohala Skyway, with a half-mile trail, perfect for time crunches.

Huckleberry Knob


Rich Mountain Fire Tower, at 3700 ft, provides unique photo opportunities with minimal light pollution. Drive-in camping inside the tower enhances the experience.

Rich Mountain Fire Tower


Stunning any time, with 4629 ft elevation and slight light pollution. Easy hike, panoramic sky views, perfect for stargazing.

Max Patch


A favored Smoky Mountain spot. Park at the Loop Road entrance and join periodic stargazing parties with astronomers and telescopes, making stargazing accessible.

Cades Cove


Visit during off-peak times for fewer crowds and better photo opportunities.

Insider Tip #1 

Capture stunning Milky Way shots by experimenting with camera settings. Enhance your experience by camping overnight for immersive stargazing.

Insider Tip #2

Next: 11 Hidden Gems in the Great Smoky Mountains You Need to Explore

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