Dark Sky Preserves

Sky light, sky bright
First star I see tonight
Wish I may, wish I might
Have this wish I wish tonight.

There’s something magical about a starry night – and no better place to witness the full spectacle than out in the backcountry. Far from the neon glow of civilization, the richness of our solar system is revealed and anything seems possible.

Arizona's deserts are perfect for stargazing. Photo: M.Kopp

Some of my favorite places for stargazing include southern U.S. deserts – probably because the nights are warmer than northern climes and there’s no immediate need to huddle in a toasty sleeping bag.

That being said, I just read that another favorite place of mine – Jasper National Park – has been named the world’s largest dark sky preserve. Dark sky preserves are designated wilderness areas with critical lighting restrictions.

Year-round, the night sky beckons. Being outside, it’s only natural to extend the enjoyment of daylight into darkness.

Dark Sky Preserves & Protected Areas Around Observatories (U.S. and Canada):

  • Beaver Hills, Alberta
  • Bruce Peninsula Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ontario
  • Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania
  • Cypress Hills, Alberta/Saskatchewan
  • Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
  • McDonald Observatory, Texas
  • Gordon’s Park, Ontario
  • Jasper National Park, Alberta
  • Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia
  • Kitt Peak, Arizona
  • Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick
  • Lake Hudson State Recreation Area, Michigan
  • McDonald Creek Provincial Park, British Columbia
  • Mont Megantic Observatory, Quebec
  • Mount Carlton Provincial Park, New Brunswick
  • Mount Hopkins, Arizona
  • Mount Laguna, California
  • Natural Bridges National Monument, Utah
  • Palomar Observatory, California
  • Point Pelee National Park, Ontario
  • Potawatomi Wildlife Park, Indiana
  • Torrence Barrens, Ontario

Did You Know?
The study of the effects of darkness on biology is called scotobiology (after the Greek word for dark).

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