Looking for something different to do this summer in Texas? We got just the thing, especially if you love the outdoors and star gazing. It is a little known fact that there are three state parks in Texas that are designated as Certified International Dark Sky Parks. You are probably asking “what the heck is that” and we’ll tell you.
By definition, a dark sky preserve is an area, usually surrounding a park or observatory that is kept free of artificial light pollution. The purpose of a dark sky preserve is generally to promote astronomy. An IDA International Dark Sky Park (IDSP) is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. The land may be publicly owned, or privately owned provided that the landowner(s) consent to the right of permanent, ongoing public access to specific areas included in the IDA designation
There are 36 such designated areas in the world, 27 of those in the U.S. and 3 in Texas. The award winning program makes designations only after a rigorous application process. Find your spot here http://darksky.org/idsp/finder/
Big Bend State Park is located in Southwest Texas along the Mexican border and became a Dark Sky Park in 2012. Enchanted Rock State Park is located just 18 miles north of Fredericksburg in Central Texas. It was designated in 2014, along with Copper Breaks State Park, 13 miles south of Quanah, Texas, in the Panhandle Plains. Copper Breaks park director, David Turner, hosts star walks throughout the year. Turner says, “The Park replaced many of its outdoor lights with more efficient, low light fixtures and retrofitted others to keep light from emanating upward, helping keep night skies darker and lowering energy bills”. For stargazing, these locations can’t be beat.
So if hitting the road and seeking the very best locations for gazing above is on your list of things to do this summer, check out the locations above and get going. When taking any trip be sure to make sure your car is in good working condition and you have a usable spare tire on board. Taking the time to plan ahead can insure a safe and fun trip for all involved. And if you need any information about defensive driving log into WirelessDefensiveDriving.com.