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Rainbow Bridge National Monument Designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary

Rainbow Bridge National Monument Designated as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary
April 16
12:25 2018

NPS Photo by Brent and Dawn Davis

Rainbow Bridge National Monument and the International Dark-Sky
Association (IDA) are excited to announce the designation of Rainbow Bridge National
Monument as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. This designation is the first of its kind in the
National Park Service and distinguishes Rainbow Bridge National Monument for the quality of
its naturally dark night skies and the site’s cultural heritage.

“This designation is an important step to ensure we protect the entirety of the landscape at
Rainbow Bridge National Monument, which is sacred to many of the Native American Tribes in
the area,” said William Shott, Superintendent of Rainbow Bridge National Monument and Glen
Canyon National Recreation Area. “We’re thrilled to be the first National Park Service unit to
receive this specific designation, as this will only fuel our night sky preservation efforts.”

Located in south-central Utah, Rainbow Bridge National Monument is one of the smallest units
in the National Park Service and encompasses just 160 acres of land. It is accessible only by boat
on Lake Powell or by backpacking in from Navajo Mountain. At least six area Native American
Tribes, including the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, San Juan Southern Paiute, Kaibab Paiute, and Ute
Mountain Ute, consider the site sacred.

IDA established the International Dark Sky Places program in 2001 to encourage the protection
of natural dark night skies around the globe through responsible lighting policies and public
outreach and education. Rainbow Bridge National Monument joins a host of National Parks on
the Colorado Plateau with International Dark Sky Park designations recognized by the IDA and
celebrated for their naturally dark skies.

“We are pleased to honor and respect the status of Rainbow Bridge as the first Traditional
Cultural Property accredited through the IDA International Dark Sky Places Program,” said
International Dark-Sky Association Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend. “In the span of this
remarkable natural bridge, we see symbolically represented the arch of the Milky Way across the
night sky, a reminder of the long-held value of both Rainbow Bridge and the natural night sky to
native peoples of the area.”

 

The designation will be celebrated with astronomy events throughout the year, the first of which
will be held on April 21, 2018 at the Lake Powell Resort in Glen Canyon National Recreation
Area’s Wahweap District from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time). This event
coincides with the final day of International Dark-Sky Week, the first day of National Park
Week, and the year’s second National Park Service Free Entrance Day.

In addition to these special events, visitors to the park can participate in a variety of astronomy
programming ranging from star parties to solar viewing. These programs provide visitors an
opportunity to learn about Glen Canyon’s skies and the continued efforts of the National Park
Service and International Dark-Sky Association to preserve natural night skies.
For more information about the IDA, visit the International Dark-Sky Association’s website. For
more information about night skies in national parks, visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/night/. To
learn how you can get involved in night sky preservation in Glen Canyon or to learn more about
scheduled astronomy and night skies programming, visit
https://www.nps.gov/glca/learn/nature/night-skies.htm.

 

Rainbow Bridge National Monument has been designated an International Dark-Sky
Association Dark Sky Sanctuary. This designation is the first of its kind in the National Park
Service system and distinguishes Rainbow Bridge National Monument not only for the quality of
its naturally dark night skies, but also the site’s rich cultural heritage.

 

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