Pardon Our Stardust!
We’ve been busy celebrating the June 2017 grand opening of our new facility and getting things in order to provide you the best and most integrated experience of the night sky ~ including everything from naked eye observing along our wilderness shoreline to peering deeply into space with our telescopes. However, this has meant there a delay in getting the website updated, so please bear with us. The parking lot near the Waterfront Event Center and Observatory is now open (please always park with headlights facing away from the building and shoreline), with 24/hour restrooms. Soon we will post the public viewing schedule for the Observatory, and the building is open for programs only (or for private rental). More to come!
The paths and walkways are taking shape.
The PlaneWave 20″ CDK Telescope is installed.
The outdoor patio and seating area being worked on.
Here is a sneak peek in the assembly area of the Waterfront Event Center.
Top view showing the outdoor stage and seating area at waterfront and start of sidewalks.
Waterfront view showing outdoor stage and seating area. Start of sidewalk at base of observatory for 24 hour rest rooms.
With the January 31, 2017 installation of the telescope pedestal onto the pier that rises up from the bedrock into the observatory tower, we are one step closer to the stars! The Roger McCormick 20″ PlaneWave Telescope will sit on top of this pedestal. Who was Roger McCormick? See the history of Headlands on our home page…
A chill January wind lifts surface snow from the ice and casts an air of mystery about the Headlands Waterfront Center. Photo by Mary Stewart Adams
Nov. 26, 2016
Facility images and outdoor seating arena beginning to take shape.
Oct. 23, 2016
Oct. 9, 2016
Oct. 4, 2016
Sept. 22, 2016
Sept. 12, 2016
August 24, 2016
August 5-8, 2016
JULY 26, 2016
JULY 16, 2016
JUNE 19, 2016
JUNE 6, 2016
APRIL 25, 2016:
APRIL 13: Concrete floor being finished and cement block starting soon
Mid-MARCH 2016: Telescope pier and observatory taking shape; the 24-hour restrooms will be located in this round section of the building.
Early MARCH 2016 PHOTO UPDATE:
FEBRUARY 2016 UPDATE:
It’s been a busy winter due to the warmer temperatures at the start of the season and construction has progressed as expected.
Footings for the basement of the program facility have been poured, and basement walls are starting to take shape that will connect to the observatory tower. In the weeks ahead, crews are expected to backfill the footings, start underground plumbing and electrical work. Interior tower footings will be placed and walls poured.
At this time, the main road through the park continues to be closed each night at dusk due to limited parking, and for the safety of those who are walking in. If you have questions about access in the season ahead, please call (231) 436-4051.
OCTOBER UPDATE: Construction began Aug. 18 at the Headlands, which restricted access to the main viewing areas, but has not hindered incredible views of the night sky! NOTE: The road to Headlands viewing area remains closed to vehicle traffic each evening AROUND SUNSET in order to ensure the safety of the pedestrians walking the one-mile route. This temporary inconvenience allows us to keep the park open, but it requires planning and a hearty good will for adventure! Handicap accessibility is by appointment only, at (231) 436-4051.You will need to park at the main entrance of the Headlands and walk to the shoreline viewing area. More on that below ….
Current images (below) will give you an idea of what stage we are in with construction, which includes the exciting news that all of the groundwork has been done, sidewalks have been put in place, a thin layer of asphalt to serve as construction staging area (not pictured) is in place, and ground is ready to be broken on the building. Construction throughout the winter months will be weather dependent, but the non-construction portions of the park remain open day and night, all year long, for hiking, snowshoeing, stargazing.
October 2015 construction photos
Aerial from mid-October (after this photo was taken, pavement was placed on parking lot and road to new facility)
September 2015 construction photos
September 2015 — Construction began Aug. 18, 2015 at the Headlands which will restrict viewing areas and access.
NEW INFORMATION TO NOTE: The road to Headlands viewing area is closed to vehicle traffic each evening in order to ensure the safety of the pedestrians walking the one-mile route. This temporary inconvenience allows us to keep the park open, but it requires planning and a hearty good will for adventure! Handicap accessibility is by appointment only, at (231) 436-4051.You will need to park at the main entrance of the Headlands and walk to the shoreline viewing area. More on that below ….
Included with this post are photos of the area where guests may gather, to help you find your place at the park during the day and night. Views are to the southwest, where the richest part of the Milky Way is on display throughout August. Closed-toe shoes are recommended, as it’s a rough, rugged and beautiful shoreline with some sandy areas, as you’ll see in the photos. PLEASE NOTE: there will be large construction vehicles moving through the grounds during daylight hours on week days. Vehicle traffic is strongly discouraged and both vehicle and pedestrian traffic are prohibited past the marked signage on the main entrance road and where marked on the trails.
Also, there is only VERY limited parking at the shoreline where guests will be directed for Dark Sky Viewing, so you are encouraged to park at the entrance and enjoy the walk through the woods toward the Guest House, which is about one mile in (and back out). Please respect the privacy of those renting the Guest House; parking and driving through the Guest House area are prohibited.
At least one quarter of a mile’s worth of spectacular viewing shoreline remains available for visitors in a quiet cove on Lake Michigan. Guests are welcome to use this area day and night, and the same rules apply: No white light, no fires and no smoking, no camping, though you can stay out all night to watch the stars on a blanket or a camp chair. Dogs are welcome on leashes, and please respect the privacy of those renting the Guest House. Again, there is limited to no parking at the shoreline; it is strongly encouraged that you park at the entrance and walk in. (Any vehicles parked blocking the Guest House entrance will be towed, at the owner’s expense.)
Importantly, please keep noise to a minimum at this sensitive wilderness habitat. Many other visitors are also looking for a peaceful, scenic environment in which to enjoy the night sky, and we want all to be able to enjoy the park!
Headlands Construction Map 2015 (click link for enlarged PDF)
Media Release Early Summer 2015:
Emmet County has several important announcements about upcoming construction at the park beginning in July 2015.
At the Headlands, we are going to kick up some (star)dust as we embark on the construction of our new Waterfront Program Facility and Observatory. Spence Brothers is serving as the construction manager and currently the project is out to bid (details at www.emmetcounty.org). It’s expected that construction will begin in July 2015, with completion in spring of 2016.
The Dark Sky Viewing Area will remain open and accessible to visitors during construction, but not to vehicular traffic. Visitors will need to follow the new signs in the park to utilize a new access point to this area. From the new access point, you can walk along the Lake Michigan shoreline northward to the designated Dark Sky Viewing and seating area; or you may simply choose to view the sky anywhere along this stretch of shoreline. It is advised that visitors wear closed-toe, practical shoes as this is a rocky, rugged shoreline.
We strongly discourage vehicles from driving into the park because the road is very narrow and there is limited to no parking on the shoulders. This does not apply to renters of the Guest House; others should note that public parking is NOT available at the Guest House as it is rented throughout the season.
Emmet County encourages all visitors to park at the park’s main entrance during this construction period, because of the narrow roads and due to construction vehicle traffic. If you park at the main entrance, expect an approximate one mile walk in (and a one mile walk out) to access the shoreline. Bicycles, scooters, wagons, strollers and other such equipment is welcomed!
A gate will prevent vehicle and pedestrian traffic for your safety at a fork in the road about a half-mile in. It will be located at the “Galileo” stop along the Discovery Trail.
Signage will be placed throughout the park to guide you where to go while we are under construction. It was important for Emmet County to keep the park open for visitors and not close it down completely during construction, and we want to be mindful of everyone’s safety while the project is under way.
We greatly appreciate your understanding and support as we develop this exciting new feature at the Headlands.
The new facility will include an observatory with research grade telescope; outdoor seating arena; indoor program area for use by day and night; 24 hour ADA restrooms; and a living ‘green’ roof! We will post updates regularly on this web site and on our Headlands Facebook page, so stay tuned!
On our program schedule, we have noted any necessary change in location through the rest of 2015. The June 20 program will take place at the Dark Sky Viewing Area because construction will not have begun at this time. Arrangements were already put in place to host two July programs at Heritage Village (July 18 and July 31), which is across the street from the Headlands main entrance. Check our program schedule regularly for updates.
Trail use will not be impacted by the construction project.
If you have questions about the project or park access, call Parks Director Laurie Gaetano (231) 330-1055. If you have program questions, call Mary Stewart Adams at (231) 348-1713.