Do some serious stargazing at Colorado's designated International Dark Sky Parks.
Attention stargazers (and UFO trackers?), the Great Sand Dunes has something to show you: the beautiful, unspoiled night sky.
The National Park in southern Colorado has long been a stargazers paradise, and now it's been officially designated as an International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association. The Great Sand Dunes is recognized for the exceptional quality of its dark night skies and for the park’s commitment to preserving and educating about the night sky.
"According to NPS monitoring data, Great Sand Dunes is one of the quietest NPS sites and enjoys extremely pristine night skies owing to its remote location," says the International Dark Sky Association.
The Great Sand Dunes joins three other National Parks/Monuments in Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, and Dinosaur National Monument. All the parks with the designation offer a different world than what many people see in the daytime.
“A starlit night at Great Sand Dunes can bring opportunities for wonder, perspective, and a more intimate connection with the natural world than we have in the daytime,” says Park Ranger Patrick Myers. “Besides seeing countless stars, our other senses open up and we become aware of the unique sounds of owls and toads, the scent of piñon pines, and the soft feel of polished grains of sand.”
The dry air, high elevation, lack of light pollution, and after-dark park programs have drawn stargazers to the dunes for decades, so the international recognition is well-deserved.
“We are thrilled with receiving this recognition as an International Dark Sky Park,” says Great Sand Dunes Superintendent Pamela Rice, “Great Sand Dunes has some of the darkest skies measured in the West. We invite you to come out and experience this treasure for yourself.”
Have you been to the Great Sand Dunes National Park? Share your experiences with us in the comments.