Gaze at the stars in Colorado’s incredible new dark sky parkAndrea Smith

Stargazers have a new destination to add to the list of places that might be fun to check out, now that Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado has been accredited as the 100th International Dark Sky Park.

Known for its rich archaeological and cultural values, Mesa Verde was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Puebloan people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE. It spans more than 52,000 acres and is unique among American national parks in its focus on maintaining this civilization’s cultural relics rather than its natural treasures.

Mesa Verde now joins a growing set of 169 International Dark Sky Places in 21 countries around the world, including 37 other sites administered by the National Park Service. Its new certification recognizes the exceptional quality of its night skies and provides added opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomy-based interpretive programming. The certification demonstrates a commitment by parks to improve night skies through the use of more energy efficient, sustainable lighting.

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Certification by the International Dark-Sky Association also reaffirms the park’s commitment to educate the public and associated communities about the importance of dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting and opportunities to work together toward common goals. Mesa Verde’s exceptionally dark skies are an important part of the cultural landscape of the park that holds special significance to Mesa Verde’s 26 affiliated tribes. Its rugged and wild environment of pinyon-juniper woodlands and deep canyons is home to over 1000 species, including several that live nowhere else on earth.

Further information on the International Dark-Sky Association can be found on its website here.

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