Voyageurs National Park designated a dark sky park

The milky way above Voyageurs.
The Milky Way galaxy is visible from just outside Voyageurs National Park in Crane Lake, Minn., in 2016. Voyageurs has now been recognized as a dark sky park.
Evan Frost | MPR News 2016

Updated: 11:10 a.m.

Voyageurs National Park is now officially one of best places anywhere to see the night sky.

The International Dark Sky Association has recognized the 218,000-acre national park in northern Minnesota as a dark sky park for its efforts to keep the park dark at night. The area has some of the darkest skies in the Midwest, which makes the night sky more visible to people on the ground.

Park officials developed a light management plan to earn the designation, including retrofitting lights used in the park. There are only about 80 such parks worldwide.

Tawnya Shoewe, the program manager of the interpretation department at Voyageurs, talks about the impact new certification will have.

"This kind of gives the area and the park this recognition for visitors to come and not have to travel to the western United States to see these amazing dark skies,” Shoewe said, “and here we are, right here, easy access to the east coast and the mid west and also it really creates an amazing place for wildlife by reducing our sky glow here."

Earlier this year, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness got a similar designation as a dark sky sanctuary, one of 13 such designations in the world.

The Superior National Forest is part of a broader, international effort to recognize and protect the dark skies over the Minnesota-Canada border. 

Quetico and La Verandrye Provincial Parks in Ontario are also pursuing dark sky designations. The goal is to create one of the world’s largest dark sky destinations. 

The International Dark Sky Association is a nonprofit that works around the world to reduce light pollution and protect night skies.