Dark sky tourism is quickly becoming a travel trend, with many opting for the night sky over a gorgeous view at sunrise - and, sometimes, the two go hand-in-hand. Arizona is home to one of the first internationally recognized Dark Sky cities, Flagstaff, which was officially given the title back in 2001. Six more cities and regions were soon to follow, many of them beloved Arizona destinations: Sedona, Big Park/Village of Oak Creek, Camp Verde, Fountain Hills, Cottonwood, and the Kaibab Paiute Reservation.According to the Arizona Office of Tourism, the Dark Sky Association (IDA), based out of Tuscon, has been working hard at raising awareness regarding light pollution. With Earth Day on April 22nd this year, and International Dark Sky Week to follow, this is why Arizona is quickly becoming a dark sky tourism hotspot.
Dark Sky Tourism: What It Is, And How Arizona Is Blazing The Path To Turn Down Light Pollution
So, what is dark sky tourism? As its name implies, it's an interest in visiting some of the world's darkest places in order to observe the night sky in its purest form. Also referred to as 'celestial ecotourism,' dark sky tourism truly is as magical as it sounds. It can be done solo or as a group, accompanied by storytelling or absolute silence, and is unique in the sense that it can't be done everywhere.
Few are aware of the fact that, according to the Arizona Office of Tourism, 83% of the world's population currently lives under a sky that is light-polluted. This means that many people have never even had the chance to experience a truly dark night sky, let alone appreciate the beauty that can come from one. When this delicate balance between day and night is disrupted, it could lead to catastrophic consequences, many of which are unbeknown to the humans who live just below it.
Light pollution can be hazardous to wildlife by interfering with their natural biological patterns, can add to the current climate crisis that planet earth is facing, and, of course, prevents onlookers from experiencing the night sky as it should be. This is why the IDA is working around the clock to bring awareness to the issue, thus, bringing awareness to the efforts - and payoff - that Arizona is currently experiencing as a result.
Arizona's International Dark Sky Week & How You Can Appreciate Its Nighttime Views
With International Dark Sky Week taking place from the start of Earth Day on April 24th this year and ending on April 30th, there's plenty that one can enjoy in Arizona in celebration of both. However, for those lucky enough to live in or near a recognized International Dark Sky City, there's plenty to appreciate all year round. Below are some of the events that one can look forward to, along with their corresponding city. While the events are in observation of the nature-themed holiday, these cities are perfect destinations to visit any time of the year for dark sky enthusiasts!
Page, AZ: Stargazing At Horseshoe Bend
This event begins on Saturday, April 30th, and will continue on through the summer of 2022. On this day, those in attendance will have the chance to observe the moon phases from the comfort of the Horseshoe Bend parking lot. Although the major event begins on April 30th, those interested are invited to continue to return through the summer to observe other celestial events or just to appreciate the night sky.
- Where: Horseshoe Bend parking lot
- When: After sunset
Scottsdale, AZ: Full Moon Meditation Sessions At Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa
In partnership with Abundant Space, a Scottsdale-based mediation center, full moon meditation services are now being offered at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa. These meditation sessions will be offered in the Desert Garden area, a new addition to an already beautiful hotel. The sessions will take place during the time of the full moon, and guests can sign up once each month for the 30-minute sessions. The goal of the meditations will be to set new intentions, followed by guided breathwork designed to promote relaxation and stress relief.
- Where: Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa, Desert Garden
- When: During the full moon each month
Tempe, AZ: Astronomical Art On Display In Honor Of Earth Day
For fans of art, especially local art, Tempe is the place to be during Earth Day and International Dark Sky Week. The display, which was revealed on April 19th, can be found at Tempe Market and includes a four-foot-in-diameter globe that's made entirely of recycled cardboard.
No matter how one chooses to celebrate Arizona's landscape, visitors always walk away with a feeling of profound beauty for what's out there. When the lights go out, it's incredible what one might see - especially when they happen to be in an International Dark Sky City.