What is an "International Dark Sky" and Where Can We Experience This in Colorado?
Billions of stars, dazzling planets, and the milky way light up our sky every night, but, sadly, most people won’t ever experience Mother Nature’s light show the way that our ancestors did. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to see the blanket of stars above us due to urban light pollution.
Dark skies are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "places where the darkness of the night sky is relatively free of interference from artificial light."
Thanks to a dedicated group called the International Dark-Sky Association and special efforts to preserve the night sky, places like Colorado are working towards making sure future generations are able to enjoy the celestial show in all of its glory. This organization encourages communities, parks and protected areas to introduce lighting policies that work to preserve and protect dark sites around the world.
Colorado is currently home to eight international Dark Sky Parks and seven Night Sky Communities.
Colorado Dark Sky Parks
Florissant Fossil Bed National Monument offers a free Night Sky Program once a month April - December of 2023. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
- Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument
- Mesa Verde National Park, 2021
- Curecanti National Recreation Area, 2021
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
- Dinosaur National Monument
- Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
- Jackson Lake State Park
- Hovenweep National Monument
Colorado Dark Sky Communities
A dark sky community is a town, city, municipality or other legally organized community that has shown exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky. Not every town can become a true dark sky community. In fact, the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has only certified 33 communities in the world as International Dark Sky Communities, seven of these communities are in Colorado. The towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff lead the way as the state’s first certified Dark Sky Communities. They're also two of the highest altitude International Dark Sky communities in the world. The seven Colorado Dark Sky Communities are listed below.
- Nucla/Naturita, Colorado
- Crestone, Colorado
- Slumgullion Center
- Silver Cliff