Blog Post May 12, 2020

Celebrate Dark Skies at These 27 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.

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

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These 27 national parks have all earned designations as International Dark Sky Parks and Sanctuaries. 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.)


Arches National Park, Utah


Big Bend National Park, Texas


Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida


Buffalo National River, Arkansas


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


Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah


Flagstaff National Monuments, Arizona (Sunset Crater Volcano, Walnut Canyon and Wupatki National Monuments)


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


Great Basin National Park, Nevada


Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado


Hovenweep National Monument, Colorado and Utah


Joshua Tree National Park, California


Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, Maine


Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah


Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona


Tonto National Monument, Arizona


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.

This is an updated version of a previously published story.