SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah – Rainbow Bridge National Monument and the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) announced Monday that the monument has been designated an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.
The designation is the first of its’ kind in the National Park Service.
The monument, one of the smallest in the National Park Service, encompasses just 160 acres of land. It can be accessed only by boat on Lake Powell or by backpacking from Navajo Mountain.
“This designation is an important step to ensure we protect the entirety of the landscape at Rainbow Bridge National Monument, which is sacred to many of the Native American Tribes in the area,” said William Shott, Superintendent of Rainbow Bridge National Monument and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Six area Native American Tribes, including the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, San Juan Southern Paiute, Kaibab Paiute, and Ute Mountain Ute, consider the site sacred.
IDA established the dark sky program in 2001 to encourage the protection of night skies throughout the globe and encourages responsible light usage and public education.
“In the span of this remarkable natural bridge, we see symbolically represented the arch of the Milky Way across the night sky, a reminder of the long-held value of both Rainbow Bridge and the natural night sky to native peoples of the area,” said International Dark-Sky Association Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend.
For more information about the IDA, visit the International Dark-Sky Association’s website. For more information about night skies in national parks, visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/night/. To learn how you can get involved in night sky preservation in Glen Canyon or to learn more about scheduled astronomy and night skies programming, visit https://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/nature/night-skies.htm.