Dark Sky Park in Utah’s Canyonlands

The ‘Doll House’ in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park
Photo by Dan Duriscoe / NPS

Dark Sky Park

Dark Sky Park in Utah’s Canyonlands

How cool is this? Utah’s Canyonlands, Dark Sky Park is on my places I must see and photograph list, which is getting rather long might I add. I have not done much open shutter photography yet, although I do plan on attempting some more here in the near future, which I will of corse share with you all when I do. I find open shutter photography to be beautiful and mesmerizing when capturing  the night sky or lights against a dark backdrop. The photo above taken by Dan Duriscoe / NPS. is just stunning and encourages me to step out of my comfort zone and try new things when it comes to my photography such as capturing the night sky in all its brilliance. I found this to be a great read and so I am now sharing it all with you.

I did not write this, I am sharing it with you from Astronomy Magazine. You can click on the link provided at the bottom of this article to get more information and check out all of the neat things that Astronomy Magazine’s website has to offer.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) has granted Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park status to Canyonlands National Park, an honor reserved for the darkest of dark skies and the most stunning of starscapes.

“It is truly a pleasure to recognize efforts at Canyonlands to expand the reach of dark skies protections across the Colorado Plateau,” IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend said. “The Park’s achievement helps bring the awe-inspiring experience of an authentically dark, natural night to over half a million visitors a year.”

Canyonlands was established in 1964 and provides many opportunities to both view superlative scenery from perspectives above the Green and Colorado rivers and to descend into the midst of these scenic landscapes to experience remote wildness and solitude. The stunning scenery of Canyonlands doesn’t end when the sun sets. The Milky Way stretching across the park’s incredibly dark night sky is a sight many visitors will never forget.

Efforts to protect darkness in Canyonlands began several years ago with a focused effort to revamp and replace park lighting with night-sky friendly bulbs and fixtures. Nearly 100 percent of park lights are now ‘night sky friendly’. Darkness is also recognized in park management documents that clearly state the value of night skies and the park’s commitment to protecting them.

Visitors from all over the world attend programs at the Island in the Sky and Needles districts where rangers use storytelling and telescopes to introduce the wonders of the universe to people who might not be able to see the stars where they live. In many parks, astronomy events are the most popular ranger-led programs, and ‘astrotourism’ enhances overnight and year-round economic benefits to nearby communities.

The National Park Service (NPS) jointly manages Canyonlands National Park with Hovenweep National Monument, which became an International Dark Sky Park in 2014, and Natural Bridges National Monument, named the world’s first International Dark Sky Park in 2007. These three park sites in southeast Utah work together to provide special protection to some of the darkest skies in the United States.

Canyonlands is a member of the growing Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Park Cooperative. Established in 2012, America’s first Dark Sky Cooperative links communities, tribes, businesses, state agencies, federal agencies, and citizens in a collaborative effort to celebrate the view of the cosmos, minimize the impact of outdoor lighting, and ultimately restore natural darkness to the area. The Dark Sky Park Cooperative encourages community-based, landscape-scale approaches to conservation to solve today’s land management challenges.

“Canyonlands represents the NPS dedication to lead the way in protecting natural darkness as a precious resource on the Colorado Plateau,” notes Nate Ament, Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Park Coordinator.

Canyonlands joins other IDA Dark Sky Places already designated on the Colorado Plateau, including Flagstaff, AZ; Hovenweep National Monument, UT/CO; Natural Bridges National Monument, UT; Capitol Reef National Park, UT; Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, AZ; and Chaco Culture National Historical Park, NM.

As a newly designated International Dark Sky Park, Canyonlands remains committed to mitigating light pollution within park boundaries and showcasing the dark night skies to visitors. On September 18, Canyonlands and the Friends of Arches and Canyonlands Parks group will host a public ceremony and astronomy event at Island in the Sky.
Click on the link provided to get more information.

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