Ever since I saw the Milky Way on a camping trip in 2015, I’ve been hooked on photographing our galaxy center each summer.
I found a blog post that included a download with a chart when the Milky Way would be visible in my area and started planning when I could see it again.
Cannon Beach was my first choice, but as the day arrived, the weather forecast showed clouds. So I used a combination of Dark Sky Finder, Google Earth, and Google Maps to find a new location. The chart showed that the Milky Way would be south and I also wanted to find an interesting foreground.
L.L. Stub Stewart State Park has been a good location in the past, but the campgrounds are closed to the public after dusk. I explored further north and found Vernonia Lake, which didn’t appear to have a gate in their parking lot.
It turned out to be a great spot and I managed to snap several shots before a patrol officer parked nearby to suggest that my time was up.