Lightscape / Night Sky

Green-tinted photo of the Milky Way, a meteor, and some trees in silhouette against the sky.
Chiricahua is a great place to stargaze. Keep your eyes open for meteors!

NPS/ C. Bubar

Have you looked up lately and counted the stars? Chances are, if you live in or near a big city, you can only see a few of the millions of stars and planets that fill the night sky. Light pollution can obscure all but the very brightest stars, and most cities do not control excess or uneccessary night lighting. When you venture out into the more uninhabited areas, the night sky comes alive with an uncountable number of stars. The Chiricahua Mountains are in an area of spectacular, dark night skies. Some of the world's largest telescopes are located on nearby mountains for just this reason.

People have always looked to the stars - whether to navigate, to worship, or to mark the passage of time or season - it seems a timeless way to dream about and ponder at the vastness of the universe. A visit to the monument is not complete without looking skyward into the dark night sky!

Natural night skies, unhampered by light pollution, are an important resource the National Park Service strives to protect. Plants and animals (and humans) have evolved over millions of years to life with dark nights and bright days. When our eyes are exposed to bright lights at night, especially LED lights with a blue hue, our normal rhythms are disrupted. Exposure to light at night for humans can cause health problems. Light at night for animals turns night into day, with consequences for migratory birds, predator/prey relationships, and population sizes. Luckily, light pollution is completely reversible, unlike some of the other human-caused pollutions. See how you can limit light pollution today!

 
Night sky image showing natural and artificial light pollution, including city glow as well as the Milky Way arching over a hut on top of a mountain.
This image was taken in 2010, and shows the natural and human-caused light sources as observed from Sugarloaf Mountain. The light domes near the horizon are from Phoenix, Tucson, and Las Cruces. The Milky Way arches across the sky and looks like it ends at the fire lookout.

NPS Natural Sounds & Night Skies Division

 
Chiricahua National Monument is always open, so come experience dark night skies from Massai Point, Echo Canyon Trailhead, or even the campground. For really dark night skies, plan your visit to avoid the full moon. Check our calendar to see if any night sky programs will be happening when you visit.

Last updated: September 15, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

12856 E Rhyolite Creek Rd
Willcox, AZ 85643

Phone:

(520) 824-3560

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