While there are numerous Dark Sky-certified National Parks across the US, the stunning Rainbow Bridge National Monument just received the world’s fourth official Dark Sky Sanctuary designation – the first ever for a National Park System site. Rainbow Bridge already boasted one of the darkest skies on Earth, but with its new status, you can continue to see Rainbow Bridge’s night sky as it’s meant to be seen, free from the light pollution that has become a mainstay of modern life.
The International Dark Sky Association is a non-profit organization working to stop light pollution and mitigate its harmful effects on our health. The organization also helps identify places where you can see the night sky with reduced or no light pollution. On April 16, the association awarded its “sanctuary” designation to Utah’s Rainbow Bridge National Monument, ushering it into an exclusive list of the most light pollution-free places in the world.
Rainbow Bridge provides a particularly stunning natural environment. Dark Sky designated parks, reserves and sanctuaries must be remote enough that they aren’t impacted by light pollution nearby, and they must also adhere to strict lighting standards, such as shielding fixtures so light doesn’t escape upward and using warmer bulbs. But even amidst all the Dark Sky designations, sanctuaries are exceptional, with their status meant to increase awareness of the sites in order to preserve them for future generations.
“We’re thrilled to be the first National Park Service unit to receive this specific designation, as this will only fuel our night sky preservation efforts,” Rainbow Bridge National Monument superintendent William Shott said. If you want to visit this special place, you will need to have a boat to cross Lake Powell in Southern Utah, or get permission from the Navajo Nation to cross the tribe’s land.