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Valles Caldera National Preserve Receives International Dark Sky Park Certification

Valles Caldera Dark Skies Sign
Valles Caldera National Preserve Main Entrance. Photo by Marc Bailey.

Jemez Springs, NM – The National Park Service and the International Dark-Sky Association announced today that Valles Caldera National Preserve has been certified as an International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the preserve’s night skies and provides added opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomybased interpretive programming.

Located in the Jemez Mountains of northcentral New Mexico, Valles Caldera National Preserve is an excellent place to learn about and enjoy the wonders of the night sky, where it is possible to see the Milky Way, meteor showers, planets, and star constellations, unobstructed by light pollution.

“We are very excited about today’s annoucment,” said International Dark-Sky Association Executive Director Ruskin Hartley. “This designation demonstrates the commitment that Valles Caldera National Preserve has made to protecting the night and we commend their efforts.” 

International Dark Sky Park certification promotes public education and astronomybased recreation in parks while improving energy efficiency and reduced operational costs through outdoor lighting upgrades, which creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities through astronomybased tourism.

The night sky has inspired countless humans to dream, invent, and explore. With this certification, we are committed to preserving our dark night skies and sharing all that we can learn from them with our surrounding communities and visitors to Valles Caldera,” said Superintendent Jorge SilvaBañuelos.


Valles Caldera National Preserve sign with milky way and elk by Tyler Nordgren
Valles Caldera National Preserve Artwork by Tyler Nordgren

While the certification does not carry any legal or regulatory authority, it demonstrates a commitment by land managers to improve night skies through the use of energy-efficient, sustainable lighting. Certification also reaffirms a commitment to educating the public and gateway communities about the importance of darksky compliant outdoor lighting and opportunities to work together to preserve shared resources and values.

The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies and public education. Valles Calderanow joins more than 100 locations that have received dark sky certification. 

When once again safe to hold large gatherings, the preserve plans to host astronomybased events throughout the year, in collaboration with many partner organizations, including Los Amigos de Valles Caldera, Village of Jemez Springs, Los Alamos County, Pajarito Astronomers, and Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Details for these and other programs can be found on the Astronomy and Calendar of Events pages on the preserve’s website.

The International DarkSky Association’s mission is to preserve and protect the nighttime environment and our heritage of dark skies through environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. Learn more at

Contact: Kimberly DeVall, [email protected], 5054120826