6 locales near Park City with ‘Dark Sky’ status, combatting light pollution

NORTHERN UTAH — Utah celebrates Dark Sky Month in April, recognizing the critical role of natural darkness and the state’s efforts to preserve it through the designation of 25 official “Dark Sky Places.” Park City Council is also looking to approve a resolution to recognize the International “Dark Sky Week” from April 2-8 at their council meeting this evening to spread awareness of light pollution and the importance of the nighttime environment.

This initiative is significant due to the ecological hazards posed by light pollution, notably its impact on migratory birds that rely on the moon and stars for navigation but are misled by artificial lights. It’s no secret that Utah’s pristine night skies attract tourists, too, contributing to the state’s economy.

The officially recognized “Dark Sky Places” include state parks, national reserves, and monuments, such as those closest to Park City: Jordanelle State Park, Rockport State Park, City of Rocks National Reserve, Timpanogos Cave National Monument, East Canyon State Park, and Antelope Island State Park. These locations are celebrated for their commitment to dark sky preservation and offer various educational and recreational opportunities focused on the importance of natural darkness.

  1. Jordanelle State Park: Nestled east of the Wasatch Mountain range and designated as an International Dark Sky Park in 2021, Jordanelle State Park offers a variety of recreational activities along with special dark sky events, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to enjoy the natural night sky away from city lights.
  2. Rockport State Park: In 2021, Rockport State Park was also designated an International Dark Sky Park. It is located between the Wasatch and Uinta mountain ranges. It’s known for educational programming like the Scorpion Walk and Star Talk, which illuminate the benefits of preserving natural dark skies.
  3. City of Rocks National Reserve: Designated in 2023 as an International Dark Sky Park, this reserve is managed by the U.S. National Park Service and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation. It stands out for its educational initiatives and efforts to improve outdoor lighting to preserve the dark sky.
  4. Timpanogos Cave National Monument: This Urban Night Sky Place, designated in 2020, features a cave system within the Wasatch Mountains and is recognized for its night sky programs offered in partnership with local astronomy groups.
  5. East Canyon State Park: In 2020, East Canyon State Park was designated an International Dark Sky Park. It is located in a narrow canyon northeast of Salt Lake City. It offers night-sky programs that cater to both stargazers and nocturnal wildlife.
  6. Antelope Island State Park: As a Dark Sky Park designated in 2017, Antelope Island State Park is known for its efforts to conserve natural darkness despite its proximity to urban areas.

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