Lonely Planet Writer

Arches National Park is now an International Dark Sky Park

Stargazers have a new place in the US to admire the night sky as Arches National Park has been named an International Dark Sky Park.

The Double Arch in Arches National Park, Utah. Image by Alan Dyer /VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The national park, located in Utah, is famous for its incredible rock formations and the highest density of rock arches in the world. While wind-worn sandstone is what the park is known for, now it is also being recognized for its commitment to protecting the night sky. 

The designation was awarded by the International Dark Sky Association, which recognizes areas that protect and preserve dark skies through responsible lighting policies and public education. There is a rigorous application progress for the program, but other recent additions in the US include the Grand Canyon and Great Sand Dunes National Park

Arches has held regular astronomy programs and events for years. It is one of four parks in the National Park Service’s Southeast Utah Group, the others being Canyonlands National Park, and Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments, which have all received international dark sky park certifications in recent years.

Balanced Rock at Arches National Park. Image by ©Photo by Mirko Liu/Getty Images

“I am grateful that the International Dark-Sky Association has recognized the southeast Utah parks’ efforts to share spectacular dark skies with the public,” said Kate Cannon, Southeast Utah Group superintendent. “The certification for Arches is the culmination of more than ten years’ effort to preserve and share dark night skies in southeast Utah.”

There will be a ceremony and star party held to celebrate on 21 September at the newly-completed Panorama Point stargazing area within the park. 

Want to plan a stargazing holiday in the US? Find out which US Dark Sky Park is right for you