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Courtesy of Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands recognized internationally for stunning starscapes

By Faith Heaton Jolley | Posted - Sep. 1, 2015 at 9:22 p.m.


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CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK — Canyonlands National Park recently received the rare award of having one of the darkest skies in America.

Canyonlands was awarded the Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark-Sky Association on Aug. 31. Only 26 other national parks and monuments in the world have received the award, including three others in Utah. The award is reserved for "the darkest of dark skies and the most stunning of starscapes."

"The Milky Way stretching across the park's incredibly dark night sky is a sight many visitors will never forget," Canyonlands National Park Superintendent Kate Cannon said in a statement. "With this gold-tier designation, the International Dark-Sky Association recognizes the importance of the natural darkness found here."


The Milky Way stretching across the park's incredibly dark night sky is a sight many visitors will never forget. With this gold-tier designation, the International Dark-Sky Association recognizes the importance of the natural darkness found here.

–Kate Cannon, Canyonlands National Park Superintendent


Efforts to preserve natural darkness in Canyonlands began several years ago when park officials began to revamp and replace park lighting with "night-sky friendly" bulbs and fixtures, Canyonlands officials said. Nearly 100 percent of the park's lights are now "night-sky friendly" and officials said they are committed to mitigating light pollution within park boundaries.

In commemoration of the award, the National Park Service will host a public ceremony and astronomy event at Island in the Sky on Sept. 18.

Three tiers of dark sky ratings are awarded: gold, silver and bronze. A gold-tier level means there is natural, non-polluted or near-natural light.

In 2007, Natural Bridges National Monument in southeast Utah received the first gold-star rating in the world and Hovenweep National Monument in southwest Colorado and southeast Utah was awarded a gold star in 2014. Capitol Reef National Park received the award in April 2015.

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Faith Heaton Jolley

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