SPRINGDALE, Utah — Utah's "Mighty Five" have all earned the International Dark Sky Park designation after it was announced Thursday that Zion National Park has earned the honor.
Zion's new status comes after a years-long certification effort, according to the International Dark-Sky Association.
A Dark Sky Park is defined as "a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment."
“Zion has taken its place alongside the other ‘Big Five’ parks that are rightly counted among the crown jewels of the U.S. National Park Service,” said IDA Executive Director Ruskin Hartley. “The high degree of international visibility of these parks and their popularity ensures that over 10 million visitors a year will learn about the importance of protecting their night skies.”
Because of the land surrounding the park being protected against development, the natural nighttime darkness is perfect for the designation.
“Zion National Park is committed to preserving the park’s night skies for all future generations and to educating visitors about the importance of this valuable resource,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, park superintendent.
Zion joins Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef National Parks in earning the honor.