I spent much of my childhood in rural settings, specifically near Hillside, Colorado. The night skies in this rural part of Southern Colorado are unparalleled, just ask +5280 Magazine. Like many rural inhabitants, I took those skies for granted until I moved to an urban setting where the city lights blocked out my connection to the stars.
While many areas boast similarly about their skies, few have actively & strategically fought the light pollution creeping in through growth and sprawl. This is not the case in our community. Through the incredible effort of a small group of volunteers who spent many years of dedicated work and their own capital, our community has accomplished something historic.
In 2015 Westcliffe and Silver Cliff were certified as International Dark Sky Places and noted to be towns at the highest elevation in the WORLD to receive this designation. Check out CNN’s video of this dark sky movement.
Many popular destinations have been affected by light pollution – eradicating the ability to see the beautiful night skies. As travelers, it is much more difficult for us to find places to take camping trips or rural adventures and experience unobstructed views of the constellations – have you visited any of the same places your parents took you as a kid? If so, you probably know what I mean.
Luckily, just 2.5hrs southwest of Denver, the Dark Skies Group of the Wet Mountain Valley in Southern Colorado, has preserved this experience for everyone, for generations to come.
We hope you will join us for an evening of stargazing in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains!
Here is how your How-To Guide for an excellent adventure to our valley:
Step 1: Reserve the Smokey Jack Observatory in Westcliffe, Colorado for your private star party. The volunteers will assist you in your star gazing experience. Though the Star Parties are currently free, please make a donation online to support the future Dark Skies efforts.
Step 2: Book a Cozy Cottage or Beautiful Suite or Dark Sky Motel with gorgeous mountain views at www.discoversoco.com and plan out your daytime activities using the Explore Southern Colorado Travel Guide.
Step 3: Pack up the family and hit the road to Westcliffe, Silver Cliff, and Hillside, Colorado and be prepared for the experience of a lifetime.
Step 4: Visit us again when your dark sky cravings become too much to bear, we would love to host you for any season of the year!