Ridgway is the second community on the Western Slope to receive the designation. 

Colorado just got another internationally recognized place to gaze to the heavens and really, really see the stars.

After years of working to meet requirements, Ridgway was recently announced by the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) as an "International Dark Sky Community." 

"The award-winning International Dark Sky Places (IDSP) Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting [polices] and public education," said the IDA. 

An IDA International Dark Sky Community is a town, city, municipality, or other organized community that shows exceptional dedication to the preservation of the night sky through the implementation and enforcement of a quality outdoor lighting ordinance, dark sky education, and citizen support of dark skies. Dark Sky Communities excel in their efforts to promote responsible lighting and dark sky stewardship and set good examples for surrounding communities.

The criteria for this distinction is intense and takes a lot of work by the local communities. It took Ridgway over two years to complete the process. 

"IDA designates International Dark Sky Places following a rigorous application process requiring applicants to demonstrate robust community support for dark sky protection and document designation-specific program requirements. Applications are reviewed bimonthly by an IDA standing committee composed of dark sky experts and previously successful program applicants. Regular status updates ensure that designated places continue their commitment to dark sky preservation," said the IDA. 

Ridgway joins previously designated-sites Norwood on the Western Slope, as well as Silvercliffe, and Westcliffe in this distinction. In addition, the Great Sand Dunes and the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park have received dark sky designation. 

“We are excited and honored that IDA has elected to welcome Ridgway into the IDA Dark Sky Places Program,” said Ridgway Mayor John Clark in a statement. “It’s an incredible accomplishment. The town’s policies and community actions will help to protect and preserve the region’s incredible night skies for years to come. I’d like to send a huge thank you to the Ridgway Ouray Community Council for their tireless efforts to see this through.”

Dark Sky Communities are particularly amazing because they offer unparalleled stargazing, meteor shower viewing, and more. Many of Colorado's designated communities and parks offer programs to enjoy the night sky to its fullest. 

Have you visited a Dark Sky Designated Place in Colorado? Let us know in the comments!