The U.S. now has another official International Dark Sky Park.
Mesa Verde National Park, which spans more than 52,000 acres in southwestern Colorado and includes more than 5,000 known archeological sites, just became one of the world’s newest destinations to receive the designation. Take in its pictographs, petroglyphs, and ancient cliff dwellings by day, but once the darkness sets in, be prepared to be wowed from above.
This national park is an epic spot for stargazing, especially if your post-pandemic travel list includes basking under the glow of the gorgeous Milky Way. “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 superintendent Cliff Spencer said in a press release.
The park’s official dark-sky certification recognizes the exceptional quality of its night skies and its sustainable approach to lighting. Parks have to apply for the certification, a multiyear process that includes light pollution surveys, taking an inventory of light sources, and sometimes making energy-efficient upgrades, the Associated Press noted.
In the U.S., Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park, Montana’s Glacier National Park, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona are among the sites that have earned accolades from the International Dark-Sky Association, an organization aimed at combating light pollution around the world.
At Voyageurs National Park, visitors can even take in the stars — and if they’re lucky, the northern lights — from a houseboat.
Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.