GUNNISON, Colo. — The Curecanti National Recreation Area, just west of Gunnison, is officially an International Dark Sky Park.
The National Park Service and International Dark Sky Association made the announcement on Aug. 5.
Curecanti is the first National Recreation Area to get the certification, which recognizes the high quality of its night skies and opportunities for astronomy-based interpretive programming for visitors.
Curecanti park rangers currently lead astronomy programs at the Elk Creek campground and the Gunnison Valley Observatory, and children are welcome to participate in the junior ranger night explorer program from home or by picking up a booklet at the Elk Creek Visitor Center.
The towns of Gunnison and Lake City, the Gunnison Valley Observatory, the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, Western Colorado University, and the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative all supported the certification.
“This designation emphasizes how special the dark skies of the Gunnison Valley are and how important it is to preserve this natural resource,” said Dr. M. Suzanne Taylor, president of the Gunnison Valley Observatory Board of Directors.
To learn more about the Curecanti National Recreation Area, click here.
In June, Colorado's Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument was also named an International Dark Sky Park. For a full list of Dark Sky communities, parks, reserves and sanctuaries in Colorado and beyond, click here.
Founded in 2001, the International Dark Sky Places Program was founded to preserve and protect dark sites. Each location must go through a rigorous application process to earn the certification.