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Dark Sky Tourism Definition

A sustainable and stewardship-promoting form of ecotourism combining elements of astrotourism, cultural heritage tourism, nature and wildlife tourism, health and wellness tourism, along with night sky stewardship, responsible use of the nighttime environment, and best lighting practices.

Actions include planning, traveling to, and staying in very particular places (dark sky destinations) with very recognizable dark sky features - like exceptional natural darkness free from artificial light; well-designed, inviting, and responsibly lit spaces; as well as artistic accents, activities and events focused on the night sky, stargazing, astronomy, nocturnal environments, nocturnal wildlife, light pollution prevention, and responsible lighting practices; including cultural landmarks and experiences that authentically represent the stories and people of the past - to live new and different dark sky experiences which are not available in the place of residence while honoring the local inhabitants and respecting their culture and way of life.

Dark sky tourism includes learning to conserve the dark sky resource in order to experience the wonder and beauty of truly dark places with very little artificial light; as well as places with beautifully-designed and responsible outdoor lighting that is safe, effective, efficient, healthy and aesthetically-pleasing; welcoming the visitor to relax and enjoy the quiet and spectacular dark sky nightscapes, and to settle into the nourishing rhythm of the natural cycle of light and dark.

Dark sky tourism is a sustainable and ecotouristic practice, due to its connection to night sky preservation, wildlife protection, health and wellness benefits, cultural heritage, and overall stewardship of nature.

In Colorado, and throughout the world, dark sky tourism is bolstered by the prestigious work of the International Dark-Sky Association and its world-renowned dark sky places certification program. Colorado is currently home to 15 certified International Dark-Sky locations. See the official list here.

February 2022

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