Scouting Visits

Camping, badges, and adventure in the mountains under dark skies.

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PARI hosts scout troops and groups for day trips, overnight stays, and multi-day adventures. We can help provide the experiences that support a variety of badges in a setting rich in inspiration and history nestled deep in the mountains of western North Carolina.

Or, if you’re looking to provide your scouts with your own content, we can help there too with access to a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces to support your scouting getaway.

Astronomy and Space Science Programs and Activities

PARI offers a selection of programming options focused on STEM and space sciences.  This menu includes hands-on learning activities, demonstrations of STEM principles, and astronomical viewing options.

Many of the options listed here specifically support the requirements of badges but may be added to your visit even if you are not pursuing a specific badge.  You may also add options listed in our standard programming menu.

*Please note that while participating in these programs will prepare your scout to complete badge requirements, attendance alone is usually not enough to complete them.  Most requirements also include some action or display of knowledge from the scout that they might have to perform on their own afterwards.

Program Helps Support Badge Requirements for: Estimated Time Required

Astronomy Preparedness & Safety

Learn how get ready for a night of astronomical observations and keep yourself and others safe while doing so. We will cover environmental hazards, equipment safety, and safe viewing of the Sun.

30 Minutes

Losing the Dark

Did you know that light pollution does more than make it hard to see stars at night? When used improperly lighting can make the night more dangerous rather than safer. It can disrupt and harm wildlife. It can even have negative effects on human health.

15 Minutes


Spectroscopy is the study of light and what we can learn from it. Concepts like color, wavelength, frequency, and photon energy will all make sense once you understand the spectrum. Learn about where light comes from and how it can change depending on what emits it, and what it interacts with on its way to us. An investigation of light can reveal the composition, movement, and temperature of anything, whether in the distant reaches of the universe, or directly in front of us.

Spectroscopy also allows scientists to study things that are extremely small, like molecules, atoms, and even smaller sub-atomic particles. Almost every branch of science uses the properties of light to learn about the world around us.

This program includes hands-on acitivies and examples to explore the spectrum and conecpts like Doppler Shift and the movement of electrons in atoms.

60 Minutes

Radio Astronomy

You can't visit PARI and not notice the giant, nine story tall, 85 foot diameter, radio telescopes! Built by NASA in the 1960's, they are the reason we exist. Radio Astronomy is a core part of who we are, and what it can reveal about the universe is fascinating. It allows the unseen to be discovered.

Astronomers use radio telescopes to pick up light that has much less energy than the colors of light we see with our eyes. This unseen light can reveal the composition, temperature, and movement of distant objects like nebulae, super nova remnants, and entire galaxies!

Learn how radio astronomy works and what we can learn with it. See how we study and make maps and images of things in space that cannot be seen or investigated with an optical telescope. We'll control one and collect data live in this program.

60 Minutes

The Sky Tonight - Planetarium Show

Does everyone see the same sky at night? This program looks at the evening’s sky, noting the classical constellations, the Moon and planets that might be visible. We note how stars appear to move as the night progresses. We'll talk about why we see the sky we do at out location and time of year, and why it looks different at different times and from different places on Earth.

60 Minutes

Lunar and Martian Geography

Have you ever looked up at the Moon and wondered why some parts are dark and some light, or where the Apollo missions landed? Do you know where the largest craters, valleys, and volcanoes ever found are located? Can you tell the difference between a rift formed by an earthquake and one carved by water? Do you know what a yardang is? Examine these topics with explorations of other planets and hands-on activities to learn about the formation methods of studing of our closest neighbors.

Add an optional, edible, addition to this activity for an extra fee and simulate lunar lava with gooey treats. Or, send each participant home with a 3D model of a lunar crater.

60 Minutes


Life on Earth is completely dependant on our star, the Sun. But the Sun can also be a source of danger! How does what happens on the Sun impact the Earth? Did you know that the Sun is made of many layers and has its own weather? Find out about sun spots, solar flares, and mass coronal ejections and what can happen to us here when they occur.

Learn about the cycle of activity on the Sun, how our magnetic field and our technology is affected, and some historic events that had shocking global impact!

If conditions allow, this program will conclude with a look through a solar telescope at the Sun. But, never look at the Sun on your own without the right equipment.

  • BSA Astronomy Requirements 7 and 1
  • Girl Scouts Senior Space Science Expert 1, 2
60 Minutes

Museum Tour

An educator will guide your group through our museum and share history, stories, and scientific facts about space and how we explore it.

The tour includes our NASA heritage gallery with satellites, a rocket engine, a lunar lander, and items flown in space that you can touch.

Next is our mineral and fossil gallery full of samples from North Carolina and around the world. See rocks, crystals, geodes, dinosaur bones, and more. We’ll talk about how geology and materials science are both necessary and important parts of space science and are made possible by studying rocks.

Our collection of meteorites is next with rocks from space that landed all over the world. Learn how we study and identify them and what they tell us about our solar system and beyond.

Finally our fluorescent tunnel will show you one of the ways energy and matter can interact that you normally cannot see. It also gives a preview of how some materials may look out in space or under the light of a different star. (Very large groups might not fit in the fluorescent tunnel).

90 Minutes

Space Past, Present, & Future

A journey through the history of the space program up to today, and a look at the exciting things being worked on now by NASA, space companies, and other countries around the world. We'll discuss the impacts space exploration has had on humanity and the surprising benefits it has had on our every day lives.

60 Minutes

Rocket Launch

A PARI staff member will guide you through building and launching a model rocket. PARI recommends Estes Rockets. They sell high quality model rocket kits and launch equipment in bulk kits that are great for a group of scouts. You can order the materials yourself, or you can ask PARI to order everything you'll need for you.

2.5 hours

Aerospace Engineering

Learn how rockets are designed and built, how we escape the gravity of Earth, and what it means to orbit a planet or Moon and how we make things do it.

60 Minutes

Journey to Mars

Did you know that we have begun a new Space Race? This time around we are aiming for Mars! Learn about how we prepare for this incredible journey. From how we adapt old technology to the creation of new, through the effects on the human mind and body, to the goals and rewards of reaching a new planet, this program will help you investigate humanity’s next great adventure.

2.5 hours

Space Science Careers

Take a tour through the many types of skills and abilities required to get people and technology into space. Do you know how many people it takes working here on Earth to support one astronaut going out into space, or to keep one research satellite or Mars rover running?

60 Minutes


Astrobiology is the study of life in space. It includes topics like the conditions necessary for life as we know it, like liquid water, the presence of oxygen, and bearable gravity; and the places in space where these conditions are found. Astrobiology makes use of physics, chemistry, astronomy, biology, molecular biology, ecology, planetary science, geography and geology to investigate the possibility of life on other worlds and help recognize biospheres that might be different from the Earth’s.

Where can humans survive in space, and where might they thrive? Are there places in our own solar system or beyond that might be capable of supporting life? Are there places here on Earth where strange or extreme conditions host life unlike what most of us have ever encountered? Can we grow food in space to sustain us, and stay safe from hazards? These are the types of questions astrobiologists answer.

60 Minutes

PARI Stream Excursion

PARI's campus is home to several springs and streams that make their way into the French Broad River. We'll find these on a map of the site and trace their paths. Then we'll hike two spots to observe what we find there and collect some sediment samples. Scouts will need to bring a clear glass or plastic jar with a lid for this activity.

90 Minutes

Astronomer Guided Evening Optical Telescope Viewings

PARI's knowledgable astronomers will operate some of our fantastic array of optical telescopes to show you the best of what the sky has to offer during your visit. We'll point out planets, constellations, galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and more. Our dark skies make even the faintest objects easy to spot on a clear night and the Milky Way is usually boldly visible overhead.

Because we must schedule specific staff to accomodate this program, Evening Telescope Viewings are not cancelled due to weather. If sky conditions are not favorable to view through optical telescopes, special alternate programming will be offered instead.

  • Girl Scouts Senior Space Science Expert 2
1 to 2 hours

Stellar Astronomy

This presentation covers how astronomers study stars. We will take a look at some of the physics and math we use to measure stars and find their distance, and classify them. We'll see how stars fuse lighter elements into heavier ones. Then, we'll journey through the life cycle of a star from its formation to its eventual death and transformation into something new.

  • Girl Scouts Senior Space Science Expert 1, 2, 4
60 Minutes

Accommodations and Visit options for Scouting Groups

How you choose to structure your scout’s visit to PARI is up to you.  We can create a program that fits your schedule, learning goals, and budget.

You can make your visit as short as a few hours for as long as a week or more.  Our flexible indoor and outdoor spaces for learning and activities, ample lodging offerings, and dining facilities make customization easy.

Once you choose the options you want, contact us and we’ll put together a quote for you.


PARI offers the following options for lodging:

  • Tent Camping in designated areas with nearby bathroom facilities.
  • Camper Parking in flat paved lots.  No utility hookups are available.
  • Dormitory Style Lodging with bunk beds and shared restrooms.
  • Private Cabin Rooms and Whole Cabins with bunk beds and queen beds and private restrooms.  Cabin rooms also include microwave, mini fridge, and coffee maker.


PARI offers the following options for dining:

  • Outdoor dining areas with picnic tables and designated fire pits so you can cook your own food.
  • Reservable indoor dining areas to eat your own food.
  • Bagged meals provided in our dining hall.
  • Hot meals with optional salad bar provided in our dining hall.

PARI can accommodate most allergies and dietary restrictions so long as they are provided to us at least a week before the arrival of your group.  

PARI provided meals may have a minimum purchase quantity.

Education and Recreation spaces for your own content

Are you working on other badges or activities?  Do you want to schedule some fun or relaxation during your visit?  We can provide the spaces and support for you to do so.

Other options that are available to reserve during your visit:

  • Recreation room with pool tale, ping pong, air hocky, foosball, board games, and puzzles.
  • Classrooms of various sizes with AV equipment and high-speed internet for presentations and video conferences.  
  • Hiking trails and mountaintops with scenic views of the Pisgah National Forest, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • Excursions led by some of our partners like rafting, tubing, and fishing.

Plan your visit to PARI

What a place to launch a rocket!