Jackson Lake State Park. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Flickr)

Jackson Lake State Park. Photo Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife (Flickr)

Jackson Lake State Park recently became the only designated "international dark sky park" in Colorado found east of I-25.

Located in Morgan County, Jackson Lake State Park has long attracted amateur astronomers and is also home to a Celestron telescope – an automated telescope that allows users to easily find what they're looking for.

The process of becoming a designated dark sky park is rigorous, involving the park using $23,000 worth of grants to make changes necessary for the designation. This involved making changes to the park and working with Morgan County to eliminate possible light pollution. Over many months, a 37-page application was revised eight different times.

A few of the changes made included removing some light fixtures and altering others to have downward-facing dowels and compliant color temperatures.

Not only will changes reduce energy consumption, but they're also expected to have a positive effect on wildlife, including the local bats and birds. The designation is also expected to increase public interest in the visiting the park.

Of 150 designated dark sky places worldwide, there are just five dark site parks in Colorado and eight total locations. Other spots include the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Dinosaur National Monument, the Great Sand Dunes, Hovenweep National Monument, Norwood, Ridgway, and Westcliffe & Silvercliffe.

Jackson Lake State Park is located in Orchard, Colorado, approximately an hour and a half northeast of Denver. It's home to hiking trails, more than 250 campsites, and plenty of water recreation.

Director of Content and Operations

Spencer McKee manages the OutThere Colorado digital publication as the Director of Content and Operations. In his spare time, Spencer loves to rock climb, trail run, and mountain bike. Follow along with his adventures on Instagram at @spence.outside


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