“Every time I’ve gone out there, another handful of drilling sites appear somewhere in the general vicinity,” said Steve Speth, longtime park astronomer and president of Friends of Chaco. “It’s really been kind of astounding.”
Chaco has long been considered by many night sky enthusiasts to be one of the best places in America to stargaze. Today, amidst this ancient landscape, visitors can experience the same dark sky that the Chacoans observed a thousand years ago. The protection of dark night skies is a priority at Chaco not only for the enjoyment of star-gazing visitors, but for the natural environment as well. Nocturnal wildlife relies on darkness for survival, and the natural rhythms of humans and plants depend on an unaltered night sky. By designating over 99% of the park as a “natural darkness zone”, in which no permanent outdoor lighting exists, Chaco is ensuring the preservation of these nocturnal ecosystems.
There are almost 100 miles of rural uninhabited land surrounding Chaco Culture National Historic Park in North Western New Mexico. The area has long been known as an epic place to view the wonders of the night sky. On Thursday, the park is celebrating it’s designation as an International Dark Sky Park. With virutally zero light pollution around, once the sun sinks below the horizon, visitors are engulfed in utter darkness.
Chaco Culture National Historical Park has just been named as the International Dark-Sky Associationʼs newest Dark Sky Park.