Astrotourism & Recreation

Image by Bettymaya Foott

Astronomical tourism, or “Astro-tourism,” is a form of nature-based tourism specifically concerned with the viewing of celestial objects, space and the physical universe. Astronomy-based recreation and tourism are not only growing in popularity nationally, but offer opportunities for sustainable economic and community development.

The Astrotourism Toolkit includes resources regarding astronomy and dark-sky related tourism and recreation, including potential benefits and suggestions as to how and where to experience exceptional night skies.

Resources

Dark Sky Tourism TOOLKIT

What is Dark Sky Tourism? What is the product? What are sustainable tourism best practices? What does success look like? All you need to know to understand astrotourism in your area.

Utah Office of Tourism

ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY 101

Capturing images of our night skies is beneficial for communicating the issue of light pollution. Opening our camera shutters for long periods of time allows faint light to become quite obvious. When capturing images of the night sky, you will also capture the domes of skyglow on the horizon. Learn the basics with Astrophotography 101.

Bettymaya Foott, Director of Public Engagement at the International Dark Sky Association

THE ECONOMICS OF DARK SKY COMMUNITIES – WEBINAR (55:30)

This session from the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation’s Summit Speaker Series explores what it means to be a dark-sky-friendly community, delves into the economic benefits of astro-tourism, and highlights a variety of night sky conservation efforts throughout the Utah.

Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation

the great western starry way

From Glacier to Grand Canyon. From the Canadian to the Mexican border. Find your adventure.

The Great Western Starry Way

THE OUTDOOR RECREATION ROUndTABLE RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLKIT

Through interviews with over 60 practitioners – including elected officials, land managers, economic development specialists and business leaders – the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable has developed this toolkit to help your community build an outdoor recreation economy of its own.

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable

EXAMPLES FROM THE FOUR CORNERS REGION

UTAH OFFICE OF TOURISM PLACES TO GO: DARK SKY PARKS

Of the vast amount of International Dark sky Parks and Communities that are part of a catalog of the finest dark skies in the world, the highest concentration are in Utah.

Utah Office of Tourism

new mexico true dark skies trail

Did you know that New Mexico was one of the first states in the U.S. with a law that protects our night skies? Did you know that Travel & Leisure named New Mexico one of the world’s Top 10 stargazing spots? Are you ready to be an astrotourist?  

New Mexico True

Colorado stargazing (2020)

A guide for the best stargazing locations, events, and celestial objects visible throughout Colorado.

Colorado Stargazing: Experiencing the Night

STARGAZING IN ARIZONA

Arizona is home to more certified Dark Sky Places than anywhere else in the world. No country outside the U.S. can rival the state’s 16 dark-sky communities, places and parks.

Arizona Office of Tourism

OTHER WESTERN STATES

TRAVEL NEVADA: STARGAZING

Flush with thousands of glimmering stars, constellations, bright planets, galaxies, and beyond—all remarkably visible to the naked eye—Nevada speaks with some of the last true dark skies in America.

Travel Nevada

TRAVEL WYOMING: STARGAZING IN WYOMING

There is nothing quite like looking up and seeing the universe so close it seems as though you can reach out and touch it. In Wyoming, the night sky makes you feel small in the best possible way. With little light pollution and unobstructed views, the stars in the Cowboy State will seem just within reach. From viewing meteor showers to seeing the Milky Way, your celestial experience in Wyoming awaits.

Wyoming Office of Tourism

TRAVEL OREGON: STARGAZING IN SOUTHERN OREGON’S DARK-SKY TERRITORY

There are no crowds, no noise and not much in the way of bright lights in Southern Oregon’s Lake County — just a whole lot of quiet (except for the cattle). That makes it a spectacular place for outdoor adventuring — from hiking and biking to camping, fishing, paddling and more. Inhabited by the Burns Paiute Tribe for thousands of years, this remote 8,000-square-mile region — marked by its dry climate and high altitude — is also world-renowned for one of humankind’s most ancient pastimes: stargazing.

Travel Oregon

CENTRAL IDAHO DARK SKY RESERVE: AMERICA’S FIRST INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY RESERVE

The Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve is a treasured resource for local residents and for all Idahoans and visitors from across the world that come to experience the wonder of the starry night sky.

Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve

VISIT MONTANA: STARGAZING IN EASTERN MONTANA

It’s no secret that big, open skies are legendary in Montana – both by day and by night. Eastern Montana offers great opportunities for outdoor adventure that can be followed by a night of wonder under the stars. Much of Eastern Montana rates 1, 2 or 3 on the Bortle Dark-Sky Scale, meaning that with the right conditions, the Milky Way or even the Northern Lights can be seen by the naked eye..

Montana Office of Tourism

VISIT CALIFORNIA: 7 GREAT PLACES FOR CALIFORNIA STARGAZING

Get out and enjoy the outdoors at night — the Golden State shines bright after sundown

Visit California

“Crucially, from an economic standpoint, the single most important thing about dark-sky tourism is that it necessitates one or more overnight stays.”

Mitchell and Gallaway (2019)