A Letter from Bob Hackett about Dark Sky Tourism in Southern Oregon
Southern Oregon’s Pursuit of Dark Sky Certification
Many of you have followed the growing development of night sky tourism in Oregon, known as “dark sky tourism” or “astrotourism.” With our small population and remote landscapes, vast swaths of Southern Oregon boast pristine night skies that are becoming a stand-out destination. 80% of the American population–and more than a third of the world’s population–cannot see the Milky Way at night. With night sky visitors spending significantly more time and resources in the areas they visit, we are very excited about the future opportunity of night sky tourism in Southern Oregon.
DarkSky International is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving pristine night skies and reducing light pollution across the globe. Here in Southern Oregon, several groups are actively working with DarkSky’s International Dark Sky Places program to create certified dark sky places that will distinguish our region as a true dark sky destination. Crater Lake National Park, the Oregon Caves National Monument, and the remote areas of Lake County’s Oregon Outback are all in the process of creating certified dark sky places.
Introducing the DarkSky Approved Lodging Program
There is a new way for the tourism industry to engage in night sky tourism that we feel will also be a significant asset to our destination and the lodging properties in our dark places. The new DarkSky Approved Lodging program highlights overnight visitor accommodation with exceptional or distinguished quality starry nights and a nighttime environment preserved through on-site DarkSky Approved lighting. They include camps, seasonal campgrounds, hotels and resorts, retreat centers, properties promoting ecotourism, and astrotourism lodges that are located in dark-sky locations.
Travel Southern Oregon is dedicated to offering technical assistance to our lodging partners who are located in a certifiably dark location and who wish to become DarkSky Approved Lodging properties. It is not a simple process—nor is it overly complicated. Interested lodging properties should Read the DarkSky Approved Lodging Guidelines to begin their exploration. Regional DMOs may also find ways to support lodging partners in pursuing this approval.
Embracing the Night Sky
We are positioning Southern Oregon as the premier night sky destination in Oregon. Providing a truly exceptional visitor experience requires our partners all across the region to embrace these new opportunities. We stand ready to provide as much technical support as possible, including purchasing shared regional Sky Quality Meters, in this new destination development project. Please reach out to us directly if you have questions.