STARRY NIGHTS OF SOUTHERN IDAHO
It’s true – on any given night in southern Idaho, you can look up to the dark night sky and be awed by a seemingly endless blanket of stars spreading as far as the eye can see. Yes, you read that right! Millions – no billions - of stars will take your breath away. You see, in October 2017, our little mountain town of Ketchum, Idaho was declared an International Dark Sky Community that is part of the 1400 square mile wide Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. One of only 12 designated Dark Sky Reserves in the in the world, this stargazing utopia extends north to Stanley and southeast through Carey to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.
Yes. Stargazing is at its best in our neck of the woods. And, our Dark Sky Reserve has “Gold Tier” status which in “star-speak “means our area is about as dark as it gets for a picture-perfect night viewing. Welcome to Idaho – a place rightfully called heaven on earth.
So, where do you start? The truth is, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy a dark and brilliant sky. After a day of hiking, an excellent dinner, and a stroll through downtown, simply look up. Our altitude and very little light pollution help mother nature show us her stuff. Nightly, shooting stars are a common occurrence as the Milky Way unfolds before your eyes.
Want to be “star-struck” from a different perspective? Whether plotting constellations or you want to be amazed, here are some options.
A family night of stargazing can happen just about anywhere around town. How about a picnic at Atkinson’s Park which includes the play structures at Hemingway Elementary, BBQ’s, a covered patio with picnic tables, and open space for viewing? Similarly, a picnic on Penny Hill located on the corner of Dollar and Sun Valley Roads is also a star-tastic option. There are no tables at Penny Hill so bring your blanket. Want to lay in wait? Why not park yourself on the lawn in front of the Sun Valley Pavilion or venture to Sun Valley Lake where on a clear night you can enjoy the stars reflection on the water. In the mood to head uphill? A quick hike up Knob Hill in downtown Ketchum or up Lower River Run on Baldy is the way to go.
If you want to venture out to the middle of nowhere (after all, you are in Idaho and remoteness is our specialty), a stargazing adventure outside of town will take some planning. If you have a car, driving out Trail Creek makes for optimal dark sky viewing. A trip south to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve will also impress. But, here is the truth. Whether walking through town or heading someplace more strategic, Idaho’s night skies are waiting and will not disappoint.