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Dinosaur National Monument: An International Dark Sky Park

Image of Island Park and the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument, Utah.

Dinosaur National Monument is best known for the Quarry Exhibit Hall at the famous Carnegie Dinosaur Quarry, where guests can view over 1,500 remarkably preserved dinosaur bones. These bones belong to some of the most formidable creatures to ever walk the earth, including the long-necked Apatosaurus and the spike-backed Stegosaurus.

But the vast wilderness that make up this national monument harbors another wonderful secret. At night, billions of stars light up the sky just as they have for millennia.

The monument is a designated International Dark Sky Park, which means that guests can look forward to more fun activities after the sun goes down.

One of the last frontiers for night sky conservation

The International Dark Sky Association (IDA), a non-profit dedicated to combating light pollution and conserving the night skies, granted the designation in 2019. IDA recognizes that the monument’s natural darkness contributes to visitors’ enjoyment of the night sky.

In an age where light pollution disrupts the night sky’s natural illumination, creating negative consequences for the ecosystem and human health, the monument is as relevant as ever.

The fifth of its kind to be recognized as a Dark Sky Park in the state, its star-splattered skies are just as marvelous as the fossils in its quarry.

The Dinosaur National Monument rolled out its Dark Sky Park public program schedule in early 2019, offering visitors 35 opportunities to rediscover the monument after dark.

The program kicked off with a special presentation in front of the Quarry Exhibit Hall on the evening of May 4, 2019.

Things to do after dark

Guests can enjoy natural darkness by going stargazing or embarking on moonlit hike through the monument. This allows you to appreciate the beauty of the night free of excessive artificial light from smartphones and computer screens.

The regular schedule of night activities from June to September of this year include:

  • Stargazing with Telescopes
  • Night Hikes Under Moonlight
  • Night Sky for the Naked Eye
  • Annual Skies Over Dinosaur Astronomy Festival

Night activities at the monument are guided by knowledgeable volunteers and rangers.

If you missed their program, you can always spend the night under the stars at any of the six camping sites at the monument.

You can pitch a tent or park your recreational vehicle (RV) at the following campgrounds:

  • Green River – Here you’ll find an accessible but basic campsite with flush toilets and no hookups.
  • Split Mountain – The camping ground features a boat ramp, picnic tables, campfire rings, and flush and vault toilets.
  • Rainbow Park – Only tent camping is allowed in the campsite, which has its own boat ramp.
  • Echo Park – The park is perfect for picnics and cookouts, however it’s not suitable for RVs and trailers. There’s one group site that can accommodate up to 25 campers.
  • Deerlodge Park – Located along Yampa River, this campground is prized for its boat ramp located at the head of Yampa Canyon.
  • Gates of Lodore – Open year round, this campsite has a boat ramp and picnic facilities.

To experience the wilderness, you can try backcountry camping at Ely Creek.

Click here for more information on overnight camping in Dinosaur National Monument.

Bask in the beauty of Northwest Colorado’s starlit skies. King Homes and Land Realty is here to offer professional real estate advice. Contact the team for more information.