Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, U.S., is among the most recognizable parks in the world. Consisting of some 4,926 square kilometers(1,217,262 acres) of U.S. federal lands on the Colorado Plateau, the Park preserves 446 kilometers (277 miles) of the gorge of the Colorado River from its low-water crossing at Lee’s Ferry in the northeast to the entrance to Lake Meade in the far west. The canyon is an enormous natural structure standing up to 29 kilometers (18 miles) wide and almost 2 kilometers (1 mile) in depth.
Given the Grand Canyon’s remarkably dark night skies and U.S. National Park Service (NPS) efforts to make visitors aware that “half the park is after dark”, an authentic and meaningful dark-skies experience is available to over 6 million visitors annually. The Park is situated in some of the most remote and rugged territory left in the lower 48 U.S. states; this landscape thwarted most historical attempts at development and has left the Canyon’s surroundings largely unpopulated. However, its historically high rate of visitation left a legacy of over 5,000 light fixtures in the Park. 2016 the park was awarded Provisional International Dark Sky Park status and the NPS and the Grand Canyon Association embarked on a multi-year effort to bring all of those fixtures into compliance with IDA requirements. In June of 2019, Grand Canyon National Park completed this project and was awarded full status in time for the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the National Park.
Click here to find ideal environmental conditions for viewing the night sky at Grand Canyon National Park (36.10043, -112.09028). Don’t forget to plan your trip during the new moon and astronomical twilight to enhance the viewing experience!
CBS This Morning (12 August 2016): “Why Grand Canyon’s new distinction is ‘life-changing” for stargazers’
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