GUNNISON, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado is home to the newest Dark Sky Park in the United States and it’s the second designation for the state this year. The Curecanti National Recreation Area is now an International Dark Sky Park. It’s the first National Recreation Area to be receive the designation.

Curecanti National Recreation Area

Curecanti National Recreation Area on July 13, 2020. (Photo by Karla Ann Cote/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

“There is a deep appreciation for dark skies in this community,” said Curecanti Superintendent Deanna Greco in a news release. “The National Park Service is strongly invested in their preservation, interpretation and protection.”

Gunnison and Lake City, the Gunnison Valley Observatory, the Black Canyon Astronomical Society, Western Colorado University and the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative all helped Curecanti in the certification process.

This designation emphasizes how special the dark skies of the Gunnison Valley are and how important it is to preserve this natural resource,” said Dr. M. Suzanne Taylor, president of the Gunnison Valley Observatory Board of Directors in the same release.

The International Dark Sky Places Program works to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to put in place lighting policies and do public education to protect dark sites.

At Curecanti, park rangers give astronomy programs at the Elk Creek campground and the Gunnison Valley Observatory. Children can pick up a booklet for a junior ranger night explorer program at the Elk Creek Visitor Center.

The program named Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in central Colorado a Dark Sky Park in June. Curecanti is Colorado’s 14th International Dark Sky Place.

Raetta Holdman