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What we do International Dark Sky Places

City of Rocks National Reserve

The dark night sky is a shared cultural heritage and should be preserved for future generations. Shoshonean ancestors looked up at these starry skies in City of Rocks just as modern visitors can do today. Photo credit: Savana Jones.


City of Rocks National Reserve is located near the Utah/Idaho border in Cassia County, Idaho. The Park was established in 1988 to protect National Historic Landmark sites containing segments of the California Trail and Salt Alternate Trails/Kelton Road and to preserve the “scenic quality of the area.” The U.S. National Park Service and the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation jointly manage the site.

The Park comprises 14,407 acres, of which 10,000 are under federal ownership, 3,767 are private lands, and 640 are state-owned. This certification applies to the federal and state-owned lands within the Park. The site is unique because its visitor center and headquarters are located a short distance to the east at the Park’s sister park – Castle Rocks State Park.

This accomplishment results from years of hard work and dedication from site staff and partners. Among the many achievements inspired by this certification is the development of new educational programs emphasizing the value of natural darkness. The Park now hosts star parties, dark sky junior ranger programs, constellation tours, and telescope viewing opportunities throughout the year. Outreach supplements on-site programming and includes a course with activities titled “Dark Matters” designed for elementary students.

Site management worked with Castle Rock State Park to upgrade all lighting to follow the 5 principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting and installed interpretive signage to highlight the importance of dark-sky friendly lighting. Future actions will focus on combating lighting pollution from growth in nearby communities, private development near the Park, and impacts due to increasing wildfires in the region.

The Park is open to the public year-round and offers camping and outdoor activities, including climbing, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and stargazing under pristine starry skies.




International Dark Sky Park


City of Rocks Visitor Center
3035 S Elba-Almo Road
Almo, ID 83312
Google Maps


Austin Zollinger

Land Area

43.05 km2


Annual Reports


Click here to find ideal environmental conditions for viewing the night sky at City of Rocks National Reserve, (42.1049, -113.7092). Don’t forget to plan your trip during the new moon and astronomical twilight to enhance the viewing experience!