Blog Post Mar 26, 2024

See a Sky Full of Stars at These Certified Dark-Sky Parks

Lay out a blanket after the sun goes down and see a clearer view of the galaxy 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 national parks have been recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association for their dark night skies.

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Dozens of national parks around the country have earned designations as International Dark Sky Parks and Sanctuaries. These distinctions by DarkSky International recognize 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.

In late 2023, Saguaro National Park in Arizona earned certification as an Urban Night Sky Place, one of only nine in the world. This certification recognizes sites that are near or surrounded by large urban areas, and whose planning and design actively promote an authentic nighttime experience in the midst of artificial light. The only other National Park Service unit with this distinction is Timpanogos Cave National Monument in northern Utah.

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


Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah


Buffalo National River, Arkansas


Canyonlands National Park, Utah


Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina


Capitol Reef National Park, Utah


Capulin Volcano National Monument, New Mexico


Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah


Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico


Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona


Craters of The Moon National Monument, Idaho


Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado


Death Valley National Park, California


Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah


El Morro National Monument, New Mexico


Flagstaff Area 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


Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Site, Texas


Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky


Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado


Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah


Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona


Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona


Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Utah


Saguaro National Park, Arizona


Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Utah


Tonto National Monument, Arizona


Tumacácori National Historical Park, Arizona


Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota


Zion National Park, 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.

This is an updated version of a previously published story.