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IDA Announces Pipe Spring National Monument as International Dark Sky Park

Rangers, interns, and park visitors enjoying the 2017 solar eclipse at Pipe Spring National Monument.

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) and the National Park Service are pleased to announce Pipe Spring National Monument as an International Dark Sky Park. IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation program in 2001 to recognize excellent stewardship of the night sky. Designations are based on stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach.

Pipe Spring is ideally set within a remote area with clean air and low light pollution, benefitting from very low housing and business developments in the area of the monument. It is located on a 40-acre tract of land in Mohave County, in the northernmost part of central Arizona. This is an area in the intermountain west of the United States known for its vast expanses of cliffs, plateaus, and beautiful dark skies. 

“We are very pleased to announce the designation of Pipe Spring National Monument as an International Dark Sky Park,” said IDA’s Executive Director, Ruskin Hartley. “This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of Pipe Spring’s night skies and their commitment to the cultural significance many of the native tribes in the region have for the night sky.”

Pipe Spring is encompassed within the Kaibab Paiute Reservation boundaries, which is a certified International Dark Sky Community. The park was supported throughout the certification process by many park partners, including Zion Natl Park Forever Project and the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians, the first International Dark Sky Nation in the world.

Pipe Spring is a prime location to educate and offer the opportunity for local communities to engage in dark sky awareness. It also makes an ideal location for visitors to experience supreme views of the naturally dark sky. 

Over the years, Pipe Spring National Monument has been able to develop strong astronomy and dark sky interpretation programs. Events hosted by Pipe Spring include full Moon Ranger-guided hikes, annual star parties held in collaboration with the Southwest Astronomy Festival, planting a native garden according to the full moon cycle during monsoon season—a traditional method used by the Southern Paiute people, light pollution talks at the Kanab, UT library, a night sky board posted daily in the visitor center for the public to obtain information about the current night sky, and outreach to surrounding National Park Service groups to provide traditional and culturally concise information, specifically related to the local Southern Paiute people and their views of the cosmos. They currently have three telescopes used for star parties, solar viewings, and full moon hikes. The monument also utilizes astronomy binoculars to help in educating visitors about the night sky. All educational interpretive programs hosted by Pipe Spring positively display how important the naturally dark sky’s protection is to the local ecosystems and environment.