Dark Sky Community
Westcliffe and Silver Cliff are the only two incorporated settlements in the Wet Mountain Valley of southern-central Colorado. The combined total population of the contiguous towns was 1,155 at the time of the 2010 Census, spread over 43.3 km2 of land in Custer County. The area was once a booming center of population in Colorado; at the 1880 Census, Silver Cliff was the third most populous municipality in the state. Its early prosperity was driven by commercial mining in the area but is now heavily dependent on agriculture and ranching.
Situated between the parallel Wet Mountain and Sangre de Cristo mountain ranges, the towns are well-shielded from the most significant source of skyglow in the region, coming from cities along and near the Interstate 25 corridor (Colorado Springs, Cañon City, Pueblo and Walsenberg). The small population, largely rural setting, and limited outdoor lighting make for dark night skies over both towns.
“The Dimmer Switch” (Popular Science, Spring 2021)
SKYGLOWPROJECT profile of the Wet Mountain Valley (February 2021)
Japanese television profile (March 2017)
The Today Show (20 November 2016): “A Colorado town goes dark to let the Milky Way shine bright”
CNN Great Big Story (14 September 2016): “The Towns That Embraced Darkness to See Starlight”
“How a Colorado valley became the center of the Milky Way” (Colorado Independent, 9 September 2016)
“Colorado Towns Work to Preserve a Diminishing Resource: Darkness” (New York Times, 13 August 2016)