Cherry Springs State Park  Milky Way Photography 

Understanding when the best time to go is before taking your trip is imperative if you want to see the Milky Way. June and July are the optimum times to go. The dark-sky field at Cherry Springs is open all year. There are about  60 to 85 nights a year that are ideal for doing milky way photography. You can see our gallery below. The basic principle of doing Milky Way sky photography is to go when the moon is not visible. The week before the new moon, with clear skies, is an ideal time to go. You can shoot about a week before the new moon since the moon does not rise until very late, or should we say early a.m. Check out the moonrise times and see our dark sky resources page for the new moon chart. Remember, pick the correct month for optimum milky way visibility. After October, the milky way goes below the horizon and returns around February or March.

Cherry Springs State Park is an 82-acre Pennsylvania state park in Potter County, Pennsylvania, in the United States. The park was created from land within the Susquehannock State Forest and is on Pennsylvania Route 44 in West Branch Township. Cherry Springs, named for a large stand of Black Cherry trees in the park, is atop the dissected Allegheny Plateau at an elevation of 2,300 feet (701 m). It is popular with astronomers and stargazers for having “some of the darkest night skies on the east coast” of the United States and was chosen by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and its Bureau of Parks as one of the “Twenty Must-See Pennsylvania State Parks.”

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Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania Dark Skies

Astronomers and stargazers appreciate Cherry Springs State Park for the darkness and clarity of its skies, which make it “perhaps the last best refuge of the natural night sky” in the eastern half of the United States. The sky at Cherry Springs has been classified as a 2 on the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, meaning it has almost no light pollution. With optimum conditions, 10,000 stars are visible with the naked eye at the park, clouds appear only as black holes in the starry sky, and the Milky Way is so bright that it casts a discernible shadow.

Two of the park’s three astronomy domes, the walls prevent the wind from moving telescopes during observation.  Nighttime visitors may only use flashlights with red filters, and may only point them at the ground. The Astronomy Field has further restrictions on lights, and parts of the park are light-free zones. The DCNR spent $396,000 in June 2007 to buy mineral rights under 1,980 acres (800 ha) of the park and state forest to prevent natural gas drilling and associated development there.

When To Go Milky Way Hunting

When should you go milky-way hunting?

In mid-February, the core of the milky way becomes visible in the pre-dawn hours before sunrise. It is only visible for a short time. It will be above the horizon during the day when you can’t see it. Of course, not the time to go hunting. The core becomes visible for a longer time frame each night. It peaks in June & July when the center will be viewable all night. In June, we see the milky way shortly after sunset, and the skies go black. The best time is around midnight in the mid-summer. After this, the cycle goes in the opposite direction. Milky way visibility begins to decrease and go in the opposite direction, becoming more and more visible after dusk. It will then disappear again in the winter months. Around the beginning of November, it is no longer viewable.

Where to Eat and Stay – Our Top Picks

Cherry Springs State Park

Bed and Breakfast – Frosty Hollow Bed and Breakfast – 1077 Cherry Spring Road, Coudersport, Pa. 16915

Cherry Springs State Park Photography
Frosty Hollow Breakfast

Cherry Springs State Park Photography
Frosty Hollow Interior
Cherry Springs State Park Photography
Frosty Hollow Dining
Cherry Springs State Park Photography
Frosty Hollow Gift Shop
Cherry Springs State Park - Best B & B, Best Hotels

Cherry Springs State Park

We have found the best places to stay and eat while photographing at Cherry Springs State Park. We have picked one Bed and Breakfast for you and one Motel with Cabins. We stayed at both of them.

Bed and Breakfast – The closest place to the Park is the Frosty Hollow Bed and Breakfast. Not only is it the closest, but it is also one of the best B and B’s in the area. It’s a warm, welcoming atmosphere, the kind we search the world for. It’s so good we didn’t want to leave. Set in a remodeled barn and farmhouse, this creekside B&B is in a picturesque rural valley only a 3-minute drive from US Highway 6 and 0.6 miles from a country club and golf course.

Since 1992, the Ayers’ has welcomed guests to the remodeled barn, which they have beautifully decorated with their lifetime collection of antiques and heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. In 1998, they completely renovated the farmhouse on this 10-acre property where Joe grew up. They can now offer ten guest rooms, each uniquely decorated with Gail’s special touch. They spare no expense here. The beds are top of the line, and the pillows will make you never want to move a muscle. It will be hard to get out of bed and head down to breakfast, but once you get there, you will be sure glad you did. You can see the pride the owners take in the food preparation.

Check out the Breakfast Pizza in the images. Wow! If you have been here before, you will know we are health conscious, and there were great granola, yogurt, and fruit for me, which made us very happy.

When you arrive here, look for Gail. She is a wonderful person, and you can feel the warmth and pride she takes in the place when she greets you. Tell her Photography Magazine sent you.

FrostyHollow B&B – 814-274-7419 – 1077 Cherry Spring Road, Coudersport, Pa. 16915

Motel and Cabins – TOP PICKS – Ox York Inn and Restaurant

Ox York Inn and Restaurant – 29 US Highway 6 – Galeton Pa,  814-435-2515 –

Cherry Springs S.P.
Ox York Inn Cabins by the stream
Cherry Springs S.P.

Motel and Cabins Ox York Inn and Restaurant near Cherry Springs State Park

This is our motel or cabin pick for where to stay when photographing Cherry Springs State Park. We like the cabins because you can sit outside on the large stream behind them. It is also the first motel/cabin rental you will find when coming out of the southern route to route six from the park. Ken and Megan will make you feel so at home when you arrive to start your photography journey.

Tell them we sent you. After a good night’s rest, head to the restaurant for a delicious, filling, hot breakfast at an excellent price. Grab some coffee before heading out to the park around dusk to start your night photography adventure. It’s super tasty. We took many cups to go as part of our night’s preparations. P.S. Looks like a pretty cool bar to hang out in too.

Cherry Springs S.P.
Ox York Inn Restaurant and Bar

Camping – Ox York Inn also offers camping accommodations. Give them a call to get some campground information or make a motel or cabin reservation.

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