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    Death Valley

    National Park CA,NV

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  • EXTREME SUMMER HEAT

    Expect high temperatures of 100 to 120 degrees F on your summer visit to Death Valley. Heat related illness is a real possibility. Drink plenty of water and carry extra. Avoid activity in the heat. Travel prepared to survive. Watch for signs of trouble. More »

  • Zabriskie Point Rehab Project Delayed Until Further Notice

    The popular vista site Zabriskie Point will be closed for major repairs over the 2014/2015 winter and spring seasons, but the exact date has not been determined. The site will remain open until further notice.

Lightscape / Night Sky

dark night sky
The Milky Way over the Racetrack Playa
Photo by Dan Duriscoe
 
Badwater Orion - photo by Tyler Nordgren

Badwater Orion

photo by Tyler Nordgren

Death Valley National Park harbors some of the darkest night skies in the United States. That dark sky is key to its certification as only the third International Dark Sky Park in the U.S. National Park System.

"Death Valley is a place to gaze in awe at the expanse of the Milky Way, follow a lunar eclipse, track a meteor shower, or simply reflect on your place in the universe," said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. "We greatly appreciate the International Dark-Sky Association certification. It illustrates the park's commitment to protect natural darkness and supports the wider mission to protect nightscapes in the entire National Park System."

"As the world becomes more urbanized," Jarvis added, "the value of a starry sky only increases and our ability to offer visitors these incredible experiences is an integral part of the National Park Service mission to preserve our nation's most cherished places for this and future generations."

Death Valley's natural darkness, along with National Park Service actions to reduce excessive outdoor lighting, led the International Dark-Sky Association to designate the park as the third and largest International Dark Sky Park.

"The Dark Sky Park designation represents not only the efforts of the park and its partners, but the dedication of avid amateur astronomers who have sought the park's world-class starry skies for decades," said Dan Duriscoe, of the National Park Service's Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division.

To qualify for the dark sky designation, the park improved external lighting at facilities in the Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells areas, reducing energy consumption, sky glow,and glare. The designation requires the park to sustain its efforts to protect night sky resources and visitor education. Implementation of the park's lighting guidelines will improve the natural character of the night and leave the stars untarnished in other areas of the park.

The park's actions to reduce unnecessary lighting also tie in with "Starry, Starry Night," one of the goals in A Call to Action-the National Park Service's stewardship and engagement priorities for its second century.

"At Death Valley the sky literally begins at your feet," said Tyler Nordgren, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Redlands (Calif.) and International Dark-Sky Association board member. "When my students and I look up at night from our southern California campus, we can usually count 12 stars in the sky. However, less than a five hour drive from Los Angeles there's a place where anyone can look up and see the universe the way everyone could 100 years ago."

In the winter and spring seasons, park rangers offer night sky programs and hold stargazing events with astronomy organizations. Using high-powered telescopes, visitors can explore the mysteries of Death Valley's dark, night skies.

Did You Know?

Telescope Peak

Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park was named by Dr. Samuel George in 1861. After climbing the 11,049 foot peak, Dr. George said that he could see so far that it reminded him of looking through a telescope.