2022 Global Dark Sky Directory

The darkest skies have the least light pollution from nighttime lighting and other sources. Light pollution is a worsening problem over time as more people means more development and the continued spread of lighting. The Bortle scale is one measure of determining sky brightness (light pollution) at night. A number of places are protected for their dark skies - these generally are at national and state parks and forests around the world. The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) vets dark sky locations and are a good place to start in your search for truly dark skies. Bear in mind that there are LOTS of other locations that are "dark enough" as well, they just haven't been approved by the IDA (yet), which is a 2-3 year long process.

Sanctuaries & reserves listed on this page are IDA-certified sites that have the darkest skies for stargazing, with parks being next. IDA Sanctuaries and reserves are the darkest, with IDA parks being the second darkest...but being IDA-certified does not imply a specific Bortle value. One IDA sanctuary can be Bortle 1, while another may be Bortle 3.

Besides using IDA has a dark-sky resource, here are a couple other tools for determining how dark a location is for astronomy and astrophotography:

U.S. nighttime lights satellite map

US night lights satellite image

2019 satellite image showing US light pollution. See full interactive map at Blue Marble Navigator.


U.S. light pollution map

US light pollution map

2015 map showing US light pollution based on Bortle scale/SQM data. See full interactive map at LightPollutionMap.info.


U.S. dark sky sanctuaries & reserves

IDA-designated sanctuaries and reserves in the United States that have the darkest skies.

NAME LOCATION
Central Idaho Dark Sky Ketchum USA
Katahdin Woods & Waters Millinocket USA
Boundary Waters Canoe Martin Landing USA
Medicine Rocks Ekalaka USA
Cosmic Campground Gila USA
Massacre Rim Vya USA
Black Gap Marathon USA
Devils River State Del Rio USA
Rainbow Bridge Lake Powell USA


U.S. dark sky site list

Comprehensive list of dark-sky sites (including IDA-sanctioned locations) in the U.S. by state, with Bortle numbers where known:

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY

  • Alabama dark sky sites
  • Alaska dark sky sites
  • Arizona dark sky sites
  • Arkansas dark sky sites
  • California dark sky sites
  • Colorado dark sky sites
  • Connecticut dark sky sites
  • DC dark sky sites
  • Delaware dark sky sites
  • Florida dark sky sites
  • Georgia dark sky sites
  • Hawaii dark sky sites
  • Idaho dark sky sites
  • Illinois dark sky sites
  • Indiana dark sky sites
  • Iowa dark sky sites
  • Kansas dark sky sites
  • Kentucky dark sky sites
  • Louisiana dark sky sites
  • Maine dark sky sites
  • Maryland dark sky sites
  • Massachusetts dark sky sites
  • Michigan dark sky sites
  • Minnesota dark sky sites
  • Mississippi dark sky sites
  • Missouri dark sky sites
  • Montana dark sky sites
  • Nebraska dark sky sites
  • Nevada dark sky sites
  • New Hampshire dark sky sites
  • New Jersey dark sky sites
  • New Mexico dark sky sites
  • New York dark sky sites
  • North Carolina dark sky sites
  • North Dakota dark sky sites
  • Ohio dark sky sites
  • Oklahoma dark sky sites
  • Oregon dark sky sites
  • Pennsylvania dark sky sites
  • Rhode Island dark sky sites
  • South Carolina dark sky sites
  • South Dakota dark sky sites
  • Tennessee dark sky sites
  • Texas dark sky sites
  • Utah dark sky sites
  • Vermont dark sky sites
  • Virginia dark sky sites
  • Washington dark sky sites
  • West Virginia dark sky sites
  • Wisconsin dark sky sites
  • Wyoming dark sky sites


  • Worldwide dark skies

    Worldwide nighttime lights satellite map

    Worldwide nighttime lights satellite image

    2019 satellite image showing worldwide light pollution. See full interactive map at Blue Marble Navigator.


    Worldwide light pollution map

    Worldwide Bortle light pollution map

    2015 map showing worldwide light pollution based on SQM/Bortle data. See full interactive map at LightPollutionMap.info.


    Worldwide dark sky sanctuaries & reserves

    IDA-designated sanctuaries and reserves that have the darkest skies.

    NAME LOCATION
    River Murray Swan Reach Australia
    The Jump-up QLD Australia
    Mont-Megantic Notre-Dame-des-Bois Canada
    Gabriela Mistral Elqui Valley Chile
    Cranborne-Chase Wiltshire England
    Exmoor North Devon England
    Moore's Reserve South Downs England
    North York Moors Pickering England
    Yorkshire Dales Bainbridge England
    Alpes Azur Mercantour Beuil France
    Cevennes Cassagnas France
    Pic du Midi Hautes-Pyrenees France
    Rhon Biosphere Hilders Germany
    Westhavelland Milower Land Germany
    Kerry Reserve Kerry Ireland
    NamibRand Namib Desert Namibia
    Aoraki Mackenzie South Island New Zealand
    Aotea Great Barrier Island New Zealand
    Rakiura Stewart Island New Zealand
    Niue Niue
    Pitcairn Islands Pitcairn Islands
    !Ae!Hai Kalahari Twee Rivieren South Africa
    Brecon Beacons Brecon Wales
    Snowdonia Betws-y-Coed Wales


    Worldwide dark sky parks

    IDA-designated parks that have the darkest skies.

    NAME LOCATION
    Warrumbungle NSW Australia
    Naturpark Attersee-Traunsee Austria
    Quetico Atikokan Canada
    Petrova gora-Biljeg Croatia
    Vrani Kamen Daruvar Croatia
    Mon and Nyord Denmark
    Bodmin Moor Cornwall England
    Northumberland Northumberland England
    Eifel N. Rhine-Westphalia Germany
    Winklmoosalm Bavaria Germany
    Bukk Miskolc Hungary
    Hortobagy Hungary
    Zselic Hungary
    Ballycroy County Mayo Ireland
    Mayo Park County Mayo Ireland
    Ramon Crater Negev Israel
    Iriomote-Ishigaki Okinawa Prefecture Japan
    Kozushima Island Kozushima Village Japan
    Davagh Forest County Tyrone N. Ireland
    OM Park County Tyrone N. Ireleand
    De Boschplaat Terschelling Netherlands
    Lauwersmeer Netherlands
    Wai-Iti New Zealand
    Cairngorms Scotland
    Galloway Forest Scotland
    Tomintoul & Glenlivet Moray Scotland
    Yeongyang Firefly South Korea
    Albanya Girona Spain
    Hehuan Mountain Nantou County Taiwan
    Elan Valley Estate Powys Wales