Environment

Dark Sky Parks in the United States

There are over 60 dark sky parks, preserves, and communities across the United States.

Light pollution is a continuous reality for many cities around the world. The use of artificial lighting during the night has led to disruptions in the nocturnal environment. These disruptions cause problems for plants, animals, and even humans by interfering with the natural night-day cycle. With rising awareness on the importance of a dark sky in the night, astronauts and national organizations have created areas away from interference by artificial light called dark sky parks. These areas exist in categories such as communities, reserves, preserves, and sanctuaries. Dark sky parks help astronomers in studying the night skies and for stargazers who wish to enjoy the night skies. There are over 60 dark sky parks, communities, and reserves in the United States located in various states as designated by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Dark Sky Parks in the United States

Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve

Dark Sky Reserve was designated in December 2017 as the first dark sky reserve in the US. The reserve, which is located in central Idaho, occupies an area of about 1,400 square miles. The reserve boasts as the third largest dark sky reserve in the world.

Chaco Culture National Historical Park

The Chaco Culture National Historical Park was listed in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is found in the county of McKinley, New Mexico. In 2010 it was designated as an International Dark-Sky Park. The park has an area of about 13,750 hectares and attracts about 39,175 visitors. The management of the park has initiated vigorous preservation efforts against light pollution including the initiation of the Chaco Night Sky Program.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is a dark sky park located in Utah. The park occupies an area of 527 square miles. Designated in 2015, the park attracts thousands of visitors who wish to enjoy an unpolluted night sky. The park’s management has established conservation measures such as the use of night-sky friendly lights in the night.

Dripping Springs

Dripping Springs is a dark sky community formed by the residents of Dripping Springs City in Texas. The dark sky community was designated in February 2014 and occupies an area of 117 square miles. Residents of the city are subject to the Outdoor Lighting Ordinance, which helps in protecting the night-sky of the city.

Death Valley National Park

Located in California, the Death Valley National Park is a popular destination for stargazing. The national park is endowed with one of the darkest skies in the country. The park was listed as a dark-sky park in 2013 following efforts to protect the night sky from light pollution by the bordering Las Vegas.https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/dark-sky-parks-in-canada.html

Conservation Efforts

International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the National Parks Service, and several other organizations around the US have initiated efforts to conserve the night-skies from the rising use of artificial lighting. Some of these efforts include mass education on the dangers of light pollution on wildlife and human beings, promotion of nighttime recreation activities such as stargazing and nighttime photography. IDA designates dark-sky areas by processing applications and selecting those that meet the set criteria including meeting the Borte Scale requirements. The Borte scale is a numerical scale which runs from 1 to 9. Other dark-sky parks in the world include Beaver Hills and Fundy National Park in Canada, Westhavelland Nature Park in Germany, Kerry International Dark-Sky Reserve in Ireland, Albanyà in Spain, Warrumbungle National Park in Australia, Iriomote-Ishigaki National Park in Japan, and NamibRand Nature Reserve in Namibia among many others.

Dark Sky Parks in the United States

Rank´╗┐LocationCategoryStateDesignated
1FlagstaffDark Sky CommunityArizona2001
2Natural Bridges National Monument Dark Sky ParkUtah2007
3Cherry Springs State ParkDark Sky ParkPennsylvania2008
4Borrego SpringsDark Sky CommunityCalifornia2009
5Clayton Lake State ParkDark Sky ParkNew Mexico2010
6Geauga Observatory ParkDark Sky ParkOhio2011
7HeadlandsDark Sky ParkMichigan2011
8Homer GlenDark Sky CommunityIllinois2011
9Big Bend National ParkDark Sky ParkTexas2012
10Chaco Culture National Historical Park Dark Sky ParkNew Mexico2013
11Death Valley National ParkDark Sky ParkCalifornia2013
12Beverly ShoresDark Sky CommunityIndiana2014
13Copper Breaks State ParkDark Sky ParkTexas2014
14Dripping SpringsDark Sky CommunityTexas2014
15Enchanted Rock State Natural Area Dark Sky ParkTexas2014
16Grand Canyon-Parashant National MonumentDark Sky ParkArizona2014
17Hovenweep National MonumentDark Sky ParkUtah/Colorado2014
18Mayland Earth to Sky Park & Bare Dark Sky ObservatoryDark Sky ParkNorth Carolina2014
19Oracle State ParkDark Sky ParkArizona2014
20SedonaDark Sky CommunityArizona2014
21Black Canyon of the Gunnison National ParkDark Sky ParkColorado2015
22Canyonlands National ParkDark Sky ParkUtah2015
23Capitol Reef National ParkDark Sky ParkUtah2015
24Horseshoe BayDark Sky CommunityTexas2015
25Pickett CCC Memorial State Park & Pogue Creek Canyon State Natural AreaDark Sky ParkTennessee2015
26Staunton River State ParkDark Sky ParkVirginia2015
27Thunder Mountain Pootseev Nightsky Dark Sky CommunityArizona2015
28UBarU Camp and Retreat CenterDark Sky ParkTexas2015
29Weber County North Fork ParkDark Sky ParkUtah2015
30Westcliffe and Silver CliffDark Sky CommunityColorado2015
31Big Park / Village of Oak CreekDark Sky CommunityArizona2016
32Capulin Volcano National Monument Dark Sky ParkNew Mexico2016
33Cosmic CampgroundDark Sky SanctuaryNew Mexico2016
34Dead Horse Point State ParkDark Sky ParkUtah2016
35Flagstaff Area National Monuments Dark Sky ParkArizona2016
36Goblin Valley State ParkDark Sky ParkUtah2016
37Grand Canyon National ParkDark Sky Park (Provisional)Arizona2016
38Great Basin National ParkDark Sky ParkNevada2016
39Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park Dark Sky ParkFlorida2016
40Salinas Pueblo Missions National MonumentDark Sky ParkNew Mexico2016
41Stephen C. Foster State ParkDark Sky ParkGeorgia2016
42Antelope Island State ParkDark Sky ParkUtah2017
43Big Bend Ranch State ParkDark Sky ParkTexas2017
44Cedar Breaks National MonumentDark Sky ParkUtah2017
45Central IdahoDark Sky ReserveIdaho2017
46Craters Of The Moon National MonumentDark Sky ParkIdaho2017
47Joshua Tree National ParkDark Sky ParkCalifornia2017
48Kartchner Caverns State ParkDark Sky ParkArizona2017
49KetchumDark Sky CommunityIdaho2017
50Newport State ParkDark Sky ParkWisconsin2017
51Obed Wild and Scenic RiverDark Sky ParkTennessee2017
52South Llano River State ParkDark Sky ParkTexas2017
53Waterton-Glacier International Peace ParkDark Sky Park (Provisional)Montana/Alberta (Canada)2017
54Anza-Borrego Desert State ParkDark Sky ParkCalifornia2018
55Camp VerdeInternational Dark Sky CommunityArizona2018
56Fountain HillsDark Sky CommunityArizona2018
57Petrified Forest National ParkInternational Dark Sky ParkArizona2018
58Rainbow Bridge National Monument Dark Sky SanctuaryUtah2018
59Steinaker State ParkDark Sky ParkUtah2018
60TorreyDark Sky CommunityUtah2018
61Tumacácori National Historical Park International Dark Sky ParkArizona2018
62Wimberley ValleyInternational Dark Sky CommunityTexas2018

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