Mesa Verde National Park Certified as 100th International Dark Sky Park
The National Park Service and the International Dark-Sky Association are pleased to announce Mesa Verde National Park as the 100th International Dark Sky Park. This certification recognizes the exceptional quality of the park’s night skies and provides added opportunities to enhance visitor experiences through astronomy-based interpretive programming.
“We are happy to announce our work to advance the preservation of Mesa Verde’s night skies and provide visitors opportunities to experience the wonder of starry nights,” said park Superintendent Cliff Spencer. “This recognition is the result of great work accomplished by employees of Mesa Verde National Park and the Mesa Verde Museum Association. National parks are some of the best places in America to see a breathtaking array of stars, planets, and neighboring galaxies.”
Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE. Today, the park protects over 52,000 acres and nearly 5,000 known archeological sites. Mesa Verde’s rugged and wild environment of pinyon-juniper woodlands and deep canyons is home to over 1,000 species, including several that live nowhere else on earth. Mesa Verde’s exceptionally dark skies are an important part of the cultural landscape of the park that holds special significance to Mesa Verde’s 26 affiliated tribes.
Mesa Verde now joins a growing set of 169 International Dark Sky Places in 21 countries around the world, including 37 other sites administered by the National Park Service. These diverse Dark Sky Places have all followed a rigorous application process that demonstrates robust community support for dark sky certification.
The International Dark Sky Places Program was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks, and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting polices and public education. International Dark Sky Park certification promotes public education and astronomy-based recreation in parks while improving energy efficiency and reducing operational costs through outdoor lighting upgrades, which in turn creates economic opportunities for neighboring communities through astronomy-based tourism.
Mesa Verde’s application garnered widespread community support, including from the city of Cortez, towns of Dolores and Mancos, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, and the Mesa Verde Country tourism bureau.
The International Dark-Sky Association advocates for the protection of the nighttime environment and dark night skies by educating the public about night sky conservation and by promoting environmentally responsible outdoor lighting. More information about the International Dark-Sky Association and the benefits of dark skies may be found at DarkSky.org.
The certification does not carry any legal or regulatory authority. The certification demonstrates a commitment by parks to improve night skies through the use of more energy efficient, sustainable lighting. Certification also reaffirms the park’s commitment to educate the public and gateway communities about the importance of dark sky-friendly outdoor lighting and opportunities to work together toward common goals.
Mesa Verde National Park offers public night sky programs throughout the year and is an excellent place to learn about and enjoy the wonders of the night sky. Mesa Verde will celebrate the certification achievement with programs at the park when we are able to safely gather again.
Mesa Verde 2021 Tours
Mesa Verde is excited to announce that our cliff dwelling tour season will soon begin! After suspension of tour operations in 2020 due to the pandemic, we are so excited to return to some of the park’s most spectacular sites: Long House, Cliff Palace, Mug House, Square Tower House, and Spring House.
Things will look a little different this year. Tour operations will be modified to improve safety, with reduced numbers to improve distancing between family groups.
Tour tickets will only be available online at recreation.gov or by calling 877-444-6777. Tickets will be available 14 days in advance of the tour date, starting at 8:00 am MST, on a rolling daily window. The first tours will be offered on May 2nd. Tickets for May 2nd will be available starting this Sunday, April 18th.
We anticipate that demand for tickets will be very high and recommend reserving tickets as soon as they become available.
For more information on tours and tickets, please visit our website at www.nps.gov/meve.
The Mesa Verde Voices Podcast series has won the prestigious Colorado Broadcasters Association Award of Excellence for Best Radio Podcast and a Certificate of Merit for best use of Digital/Social Media for medium media markets in Colorado. The podcasts are produced by KSJD Radio in Cortez, Colorado in collaboration with Mesa Verde National Park, and with support from Mesa Verde Museum Association and a matching grant from the National Park Service.
Mesa Verde Voices is a podcast connecting modern people to the people who lived around Mesa Verde hundreds of years ago. The fourth season of Mesa Verde Voices launches April 30th, with episodes released on Fridays and is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, and mesaverdevoices.org. This season focuses on answering some of the most frequent questions that visitors ask when visiting Mesa Verde National Park, including why cliff dwellings were constructed and why they tend to get all the attention even though they weren’t the largest communities in the region, what rock art, petroglyphs, and pictographs, may have meant and still means to the descendants of the ancestral pueblo people.
Mesa Verde Voices fourth season to be released on April 30th.
Since the podcasts were first released in 2017, they have been downloaded over 58,000 times.
This is an excerpt from the Mesa Verde Museum Association’s Member Newsletter. To find out more about MVMA and how to get your own copy delivered, visit the Mesa Verde Museum Association website.