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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

New Mexico’s Chaco National Park earns ‘dark sky’ designation

Minimal light pollution makes this park a top destination for stargazers.

by: Trent Knoss

The New Mexico skies. (Photo: Jared Tarbell via Flickr)
The New Mexico skies. (Photo: Jared Tarbell via Flickr)

Looking for pristine night skies? New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a good bet, according to the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), which awarded Chaco its rare ‘Dark Sky Park’ designation.

In a press release, the IDA praised Chaco’s commitment to keeping artificial illumination levels to a minimum and noted the park’s robust public education programs about the dangers of light pollution. The park keeps all of its bulbs pointed downward and shies away from blue-tinted lights. “Warm lights and amber fixtures have been shown to have much less impact,” IDA spokesman Scott Kardel told BACKPACKER, adding that redder spectrums produce less ambient glare.

Chaco is the 12th park to earn the IDA’s Dark Sky Park distinction, joining a select group that includes Big Bend National Park in Texas and Natural Bridges National Monument in Utah.

(via IDA)

Found your perfect starry sky? Capture it in all its glory with these tips from a pro nighttime photographer.


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