The Lexington Reservoir County Park
17770 Alma Bridge Road
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Lexington Reservoir County Park is just off Highway 17, not far from Los Gatos. Although the park itself closes at sunset, the surrounding roads are good places for observing the night sky. The area is quiet and there is little light pollution. It might be a good idea to phone the park to find out what current conditions are. In a high-risk fire year like this, some roads that are usually open may be closed to the public, particular on “spare the air” days.
Regional Open Space District
330 Distel Circle
Los Altos, CA 94022
The Regional Open Space District is comprised of many acres of land in a variety of locations with trails for hiking and riding or just observing nature. Unfortunately, this usually has to be done during daylight hours since the park areas are closed to the public at sundown, however, there is an exception. For the purpose of astronomical observation, there is a special permit you can get. This is for the parking lot of the Monte Bello open space on Skyline Boulevard (Highway 35) near Cupertino. This permit is free and allows you to be in the parking lot until 2 a.m. Allow at least two days for processing. The link to the website where you may apply for the permit is above.
7777 Airline Highway
Tres Pinos, CA 95075
Balboa Park is the San Benito County Fairgrounds. There appears to be no website for the facility itself, only for the county fair and the phone number listed here is for the fair. It is an excellent place for stargazing. If there happens to be an event going on at the fairgrounds, you might not be allowed on the grounds of the facility, however the road leading to the park is a country road with many turnouts and will provide ample places for stargazing.
Ed Levin County Park
3100 Calaveras Road
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 262-6980 (park office)
Ed Levine County Park, in the hills east of Milpitas, is a wonderful facility offering multiple public facilities: picnicking, camping, hiking, equestrian trails and some fishing. Far away from light pollution, it’s an excellent place to stargaze, particularly if you choose one of the small valleys where you will be shielded from the light pollution of Milpitas.
There are several places along Highway 17 between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz where you can comfortably observe the night sky, however if you take Highway 9, off 17 going towards Felton and Ben Lomond, you will find several admirable locations for enjoying the night sky with even less light pollution than those along 17.
Geraldine Duncann is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.