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.

An industry guide to Astrotourism | guides

What is Astrotourism? What are key terms? What is the product? What are sustainable tourism best practices? What does success look like? All you need to know to understand dark sky tourism and recreation in your area.

Utah Office of Tourism

Astrophotography 101 | guides

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, International Dark Sky Association Director of Public Engagement

An Essential Guide to Enjoying US National Parks Responsibly | guides

A guide to enjoying the great outdoors more ‘responsibly’ by practicing the principles of ‘leave no trace’, camping and wildlife safety, and fire prevention awareness and plenty of useful tips, practical advice, and other resources to stay safe in parks and recreate outdoors responsibly.

loveholidays

The Great Western Starry Way | websites & programs

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

Janet Muir

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 astrotourism, and highlights a variety of night sky conservation efforts throughout the Utah.

Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation

THE OUTDOOR RECREATION ROUndTABLE RURAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TOOLKIT | guides

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

OUTDOOR LIGHTING IN NATIONAL PARKS: LESSONS LEARNED AND BEST PRACTICES | guides

The 2015 National Park Service Lighting Training Workshop provided an opportunity for NPS staff to learn
about recent developments in LED and other adaptive lighting technologies that address the unique lighting
concerns in national parks, including energy efficiency, costs, public safety, and both natural and cultural
resource protection.

National Park Service

Dark Sky Tourism: Examples from the Four Corners States

Utah

UTAH OFFICE OF TOURISM PLACES TO GO: DARK SKY PARKS | websites & programs

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

Colorado

colorado stargazing media kit | websites & programs

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

Colorado Stargazing: Experiencing the Night

Arizona

STARGAZING IN ARIZONA | websites & programs

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

New Mexico

new mexico true dark skies trail | websites & programs

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

Dark Sky Tourism: Other Western States

Nevada

TRAVEL NEVADA: STARGAZING | Websites & programs

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

Idaho

CENTRAL IDAHO DARK SKY RESERVE: AMERICA’S FIRST INTERNATIONAL DARK SKY RESERVE | websites & programs

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

Montana

VISIT MONTANA: STARGAZING IN EASTERN MONTANA | websites & programs

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

Wyoming

TRAVEL WYOMING: STARGAZING IN WYOMING | Websites & programs

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

Oregon

TRAVEL OREGON: STARGAZING IN SOUTHERN OREGON’S DARK-SKY TERRITORY | websites & programs

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

California

VISIT CALIFORNIA: 7 GREAT PLACES FOR CALIFORNIA STARGAZING | websites & programs

It’s no secret that big, open skies are legendary in Montana – both by day and by night. Eastern Montana offers great opportunities 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)