If there is no local club already mapped your area and established some observing locations which are open during pandemic (they usually are as the number of people visiting these is small):
1. Study the map: https://darksitefind...#4/39.00/-98.00
2. Select most promising (affordable to spend your effort) dark regions (I'm looking for grey/dark only) and decide on suitable for your observing flow locations.
3. Go there for a moonless night and evaluate for yourself.
I did just that over past decades despite our local community has a well established network of observing spots (many are even gated) as most of them already obsolete on the initial Bortle scale which they were selected for (the best are only Blue LPZ).
At the stage No.1 I'm looking not only for the color, but also for possible light domes in the South from the potential location, and for passable roads available well within the marked area.
At the stage No. 2 I'm expecting to setup simply on the side (at the curb) of a rural/service road with minimum of traffic, good width shoulder so I could safely park the car and setup the Telescope either behind it (ideal) or on another shoulder nearby. Surely with the well open South horizon or better, and with the low chance of fog if close to the Ocean. Thus, the first substage is to use the "Terrain view" and find a road above 1200' line with potentially low South horizon. Then "land" there in the "Street View" and follow the road to get a sense of possible conditions you need to deal with there. Be observant as you "virtually drive" for trees/foliage types in the area, fences, gates, signs, passing/parked cars, animals, people, tents and homes suddenly revealed on the Google camera, as they might help you to figure the suitability of the particular road/location.
At the stage No. 3 Expect failing with your plans (new area development, overgrown foliage, closed/damaged/private road, etc), so at #2 make sure you have at least 4 possible stup locations on that "roads network" and one more realistic one (e.g. I'm often driving through the California East to West when hunting for such a location, and when failing usually ending up observing on one of the Freeway 1 cliff overlooks if the weather is cooperating). At least a fantastic sunset is always guaranteed
On a side note: Roads you want are really rural, so the safety is usually very good (except for wild animals but that's rare in open spaces you desire to have). Police attitude is favorable when they see a telescope. Avoid popping a tent or too much of furniture, as camping is prohibited on the side of most any road, if the officer insists, just tell them you need just an hour to see "that Galxy", just pack and leave if they have objections (never happened to me). Locals might be surprised, but just try to friend them, they usually freaking out (but that could be my Russian accent as well ). In a worst case have a plausible "legend" ready, that you are doing a scientific research for some very local University. Had to use it once to avoid doing "curb astronomy" for passer-bys, while I was actually doing some private research program near the Mt. Hamilton (Lick observatory).
Make your car well visible for passing cars to avoid a collision (parking with tail lights looking into the traffic is good enough). If in doubt, don't setup in the broad light, wait for the late dusk. Always a good idea to bring a buddy with you and have someone on the "Main Land" knowing where you are going.
Edited by halx, 04 August 2020 - 05:49 PM.