It is awe-inspiring to look up and see the canopy of stars unfurl across the night sky. But the number of places you can get a complete view not encumbered by light pollution is shrinking. Thankfully, places such as Mesa Verde National Park are stepping up to protect the night sky.
The International Dark Sky Association recently recognized the Colorado national park for its work to protect its pristine nighttime views. Mesa Verde joins a select group of places to earn the title of dark sky park, the Associated Press reported.
“We are happy to announce our work to … provide visitors opportunities to experience the wonder of starry nights,” said Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer in a press release. “National Parks are some of the best places in America to see a breathtaking array of stars, planets and neighboring galaxies.”
But becoming a dark sky park means completing a multiyear application process. That’s because the sites must meet rigorous standards for light pollution and controlling light in the area. As well as upgrading essential outdoor lighting with energy-efficient bulbs, the AP said.
Indeed, these sites “proactively reduce their impact on the night sky through adopting policy, conducting lighting retrofits, and undertaking outreach related to light pollution,” according to Adam Dalton, the International Dark Sky Places program manager.
Mesa Verde Joins a Small Group of Dark Sky Parks
Mesa Verde National Park is the 169th dark sky park in the world, spread out across 21 countries. The process to earn the designation is so difficult few earn it. However, those that do provide visitors and stargazers with views like no other.
In the U.S., Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park, Montana’s Glacier National Park, Big Bend National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona and many other national parks have earned the distinction.
See the full list of dark sky parks here.