Blog Post Jennifer Errick Apr 17, 2018

Celebrate Dark Skies at These 18 National Parks

Lay out a blanket after the sun goes down and see a clearer view of the universe at these designated dark-sky parks.

This week is International Dark Sky Week. National parks are some of the best places in the world to appreciate dark night skies because the National Park Service works to protect these places from the increasingly prevalent effects of light pollution.

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Dark-Sky National Parks

These 18 national parks have been recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association for their dark night skies.

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These 18 national parks have all earned designations as International Dark Sky Parks. This distinction recognizes “an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment,” according to the International Dark-Sky Association.

Looking for vacation inspiration? Many of these parks have astronomy programs where people of all ages can learn more about the wonders of the night sky — and all of them have places to lay out a blanket and simply enjoy the darkness.

(Click the images to enlarge them.)


Big Bend National Park, Texas

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

Craters of The Moon National Monument, Idaho

Death Valley National Park, California

Glacier National Park, Montana

(and Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada; together, these two parks make up Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, the first International Dark-Sky Park spanning an international border)

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Arizona

Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Hovenweep National Monument, Colorado and Utah

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah

Additional U.S. dark-sky parks, not pictured

Learn more about how you can fight light pollution and support dark skies on the International Dark-Sky Association website.

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