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Why Dark Skies Matter

The San Luis Valley is renowned for its dark skies, and your actions can make a difference in protecting this spectacular natural resource. You are invited to witness the wonders of the universe from this extraordinary viewpoint. 

Preserving the Beauty and Benefits of Night Skies


Astronomy and Scientific Advancement: Dark skies offer ideal conditions for astronomical research. Artificial light pollution can disrupt telescopes and hinder our exploration of the universe. Preserving dark skies is essential for expanding our knowledge of space.

Human Well-being: Excessive artificial light at night disrupts natural sleep patterns and harms human health. It can lead to sleep problems, obesity, and other health issues. Dark skies promote healthier sleep and overall well-being.

Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Many cultures have rich traditions tied to the night sky. Protecting dark skies ensures the continuation of these cultural and historical connections.

Enhanced Quality of Life: Dark skies enrich communities and individuals by connecting them to the natural world through awe-inspiring views of stars and celestial objects.

Wildlife Protection: Artificial night lighting has a broad negative impact on wildlife, altering natural behaviors and ecological balance. This includes navigation, mating, foraging, and natural predation, fragmenting habitats and impacting diverse ecosystems.

Energy Efficiency: Lighting that spills into the night sky wastes energy and contributes to pollution. This inefficiency carries economic and environmental consequences, including increased greenhouse gas emissions and higher electricity costs. 

Economic Benefits: Areas with dark skies attract stargazers and astrotourists, benefiting local communities through tourism and educational programs.

Economic Benefits: Areas with dark skies attract stargazers and astrotourists, benefiting local communities through tourism and educational programs.

Preserving dark skies involves using energy-efficient lighting, shielding fixtures, and educating people about responsible outdoor lighting. This protects the environment, enhances well-being, and allows us to explore the wonders of the universe.

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What is a Dark Sky Reserve?

A Dark Sky Reserve is a protected area of land with exceptional starry nights and a nocturnal environment for scientific, natural, cultural heritage, or public enjoyment purposes. It has a “core” zone that meets minimum sky quality requirements and is surrounded by a periphery with policy controls to protect the darkness of the core.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
& Preserve

The park’s 149,164 acres of dunes, wetlands, grasslands, forests, and alpine tundra offer an array of opportunities to view the night sky and explore the park after dark. Great Sand Dunes was certified an International Dark Sky Park in 2019.


Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Reserve

The proposed Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Reserve in rural Colorado aims to become one of the world’s largest dark sky areas. This will be achieved through partnerships, lighting regulations, agreements, and
long-term planning to safeguard this beautiful night sky.

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Dark Sky Camping Guidelines

Use light responsibly to minimize the impact on your surrounding environment and ensure an enjoyable experience for all:

  • Light your site, not the night.

  • Shield your lights and point them down.

  • Use warmer color light (like red light) if light is needed.

  • Avoid unneeded and excessive light (like decorative lighting, landscape lighting, string lighting, etc.)

  • Consider stargazing as an alternative

  • to a campfire.

  • Refrain from driving in the camping areas from dusk to dawn.

  • After dark . . . Lights off, STARS ON!

What is Light Trespassing?

Light trespass is a form of light pollution that impinges on other people’s personal space. Examples include floodlights and string lights that illuminate a neighbor’s yard and beyond. Think carefully before installing outdoor lighting, keep outdoor lighting off when it’s not needed, and close your blinds at night to keep light inside. 


Do Your Part

Modern society requires outdoor lighting for safety and commerce, but nighttime lighting can be used wisely.


To minimize the harmful effects of light pollution, please follow the 5 Principles of Responsible Lighting:

  1. USEFUL – All light should have a clear purpose.

  2. TARGETED – Light should be directed only where needed, inside and outside.

  3. LOW LIGHT LEVELS – Light should be no brighter than necessary.

  4. CONTROLLED – Light should be used only when it is useful.

  5. COLOR – Use warmer colored lights where possible.


Wish Upon a Shooting Star

Up your stargazing party and plan to visit Saguache Couty during one of the annual prominent meteor showers.

Meteor showers are spectacular celestial events that occur when Earth passes through a trail of debris left behind by a comet. 



Peaking in early January, this short-lived shower delivers about 40 meteors per hour. Precise timing is key, and the radiant point is in Boötes.



This mid-April shower
provides around 20 meteors per hour, making it a rewarding option, though
not as active as others.



A reliable favorite, peaking in mid-August, producing an average of 60-100 meteors per hour. Best viewing after midnight with Perseus high in the sky.



Associated with Halley’s Comet, this October shower offers around 20 meteors per hour. Prime viewing is after midnight with Orion well-placed.



Known for its high meteor rate, often exceeding 100 per hour. It occurs in mid-December and is best viewed after midnight when Gemini is high.

For optimal meteor watching, avoid areas with artificial lighting and choose a safe, open location. Be aware of private property and closed gates, and keep an eye on weather forecasts and moon phases for clear, unobstructed views.

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