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Utah’s East Canyon State Park Named World’s Newest International Dark Sky Park

Utah’s East Canyon State Park Named World’s Newest International Dark Sky Park Image

The night sky over covered wagons on display at East Canyon State Park in Utah, U.S., evokes conditions when pioneers passed through the area in the mid-nineteenth century. Photo by Ryan Andreasen.

East Canyon State Park in northeastern Utah, U.S., has been accredited as an International Dark Sky Park. This designation means that East Canyon State Park has beautifully dark night skies that allow visitors to clearly view the Milky Way and other celestial objects. It is the fourteenth overall International Dark Sky Places Program designation in Utah, and the fifth International Dark Sky Park for Utah State Parks.

“With today’s announcement, Utah State Park leads the state park systems of the United States in terms of total designations,” said IDA Executive Director Ruskin Hartley. “Not only is this an important achievement for East Canyon State Park, but it is a testament to the commitment shown by Utah State Parks to elevate the importance of dark-sky protections among its constituent park units.”

In order to be designated as an International Dark Sky Park, park staff, interns, and volunteers, had to meet the stringent programming, monitoring and infrastructure requirements set forth by the International Dark Sky Association. In 2014, the East Canyon Dark Sky Team started hosting fun and informational “Star Park Academy” courses for the public.

The Dark Sky Team began measuring the quality of the darkness within the park in 2016. From 2017-2019, they worked on changing out old park lights for new dark sky-friendly fixtures that have low Kelvins, low lumens, full cut-off shielding, motion detectors and timers. Changing lighting helped enhance the natural darkness within the park.

East Canyon now joins Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Antelope Island and Steinaker State Parks in attaining official recognition for their dark sky stewardship. Three additional Utah State Parks have submitted their International Dark Sky Park applications and four more parks are currently working on their applications.

East Canyon State Park will host a ticketed, socially-distanced dark sky event in early October to celebrate their designation. For more information, check the park’s event webpage in mid-September at: https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/east-canyon/events/.

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