East Canyon State Park given international ‘dark sky’ recognition

(Photo by Shelby Stock | courtesy of Utah State Parks) The Milky Way seen over East Canyon State Park, southeast of Morgan, Utah. The International Dark Sky Association has designated the park an "International Dark Sky Park."

Add East Canyon State Park to the list of Utah places where one can look up at the stars with little or no interference from human-made light pollution.

The park, encompassing East Canyon Reservoir about 15 miles southeast of Morgan, is the latest Utah location to be receive recognition as an International Dark Sky Park.

The honor is given by the International Dark Sky Association, an advocacy group that aims to protect natural places from light pollution caused by human activity.

According to a news release from Utah State Parks, East Canyon’s park manager, Chris Haramoto, and his team have worked for the past six years to meet the association’s strict standards for programming, monitoring and infrastructure. Staff, interns and volunteers have been measuring the quality of darkness in the park, and replacing old lighting for fixtures that support dark skies.

East Canyon will celebrate its new designation with a ticketed, socially distant dark-sky event in early October.

East Canyon is the fifth Utah state park to receive the dark-sky recognition. It joins Dead Horse Point, Goblin Valley, Antelope and Steinaker state parks on the association’s list. Three more state parks have submitted their applications, and four more are working on their applications.

Four of Utah’s national parks — Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Capitol Reef — are dark-sky parks. So are four of the state’s national monuments: Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Hovenweep and Natural Bridges. Rainbow Bridge National Monument is listed as a dark-sky sanctuary. The association recognizes Helper and Torrey as dark-sky communities.