Colorado Tourism Office Announces Participants in New Dark Sky Certification Mentorship Program to Advance Stargazing Across the State

The first program of its kind to provide technical assistance to tourism partners from the state level in partnership with the International Dark-sky Association

DENVER — Today, the Colorado Tourism Office announced the four awarded recipients of the Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program. This brand new program is being administered by the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) and the International Dark-sky Association Colorado Chapter (IDA-Colorado) and seeks to advance strategies that help tourism partners across the state achieve International Dark Sky Place (IDSP) certification and enhance Colorado’s visitor experience. 

The partners who were selected include:

  • Friends of Brown Canyon
  • Ridgway State Park
  • San Luis Valley Great Outdoors (on behalf of the Sangre de Cristo Dark Sky Reserve)
  • Visit Durango (on behalf of the City of Durango)

"Thanks to our bipartisan efforts and a shared love of the outdoors, Coloradans across the state will be able to enjoy starlit skies free from light pollution," said Speaker-designate Julie McCluskie, D-Dillion. "The legislation we passed to create the CTO Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program will help communities to preserve ecosystems, boost sustainable tourism and protect our beautiful night skies. Working together, Colorado destinations will protect our Milky Way views, while enhancing the visitor experience for years to come."

Program objectives include increased collaboration between state and local tourism leaders, reduced energy consumption, economic impact from cost savings and increased property value, and increased awareness of the value of visible night skies and their benefit to local wildlife. Additionally, it will elevate local and regional quality of life through enhanced health and well-being, cultural heritage and sense of place, all while increasing the number of IDSP certifications in Colorado. 

As designated by the International Dark-Sky Association, Colorado is already home to 15 International Dark-Sky Association designations, including 10 dark-sky parks. This also includes three of the state’s four national parks and five dark-sky communities.

“Astrotourism is an emerging trend in Destination Stewardship and I'm proud that Colorado is the first state to offer a program like this,” said CTO Director Timothy Wolfe. “This program is designed to help locations around the state implement strategies that help achieve International Dark Sky Place certification and advance the global movement of protecting access to the night sky.”

Each participating organization in the program will receive 50 hours of free consulting from IDA-Colorado to implement activities that reduce light pollution and protect access to Colorado’s incredible night skies. Program participants will collaborate with representatives from IDA-Colorado to develop a scope of work that details how they will utilize the free consulting provided through the program. Example consulting activities include:

  • Understand how to structure a successful application for IDSP certification
  • Foster alignment between local stakeholders and buy-in for IDSP certification
  • Understand the requirements and successful language related to local ordinances and land use codes to reduce light pollution and energy consumption
  • Facilitate site visits to conduct assessments of local lighting infrastructure and measure darkness levels with a Sky Quality Meter
  • Host stargazing or other community dark sky awareness events
  • Develop, enhance and promote visitor experiences related to stargazing

This brand new program was made possible as a result of HB22-1382, which was signed into law on May 27, 2022. A panel of industry partners and representatives from both the CTO and IDA Colorado reviewed the applications and made the final awards based on demonstrated need, capacity to participate and demonstrated support from appropriate governing bodies.

For more information on the program, please visit the official program page at

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About the Colorado Tourism Office: 

The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) is a division of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade. The mission of the CTO is to empower the tourism industry by inspiring the world to explore Colorado responsibly and respectfully. The Colorado Tourism Office seeks to advance the strength and resilience of the entire industry through collaboration, inclusivity, innovation and leadership. In 2021, Colorado travelers spent $22.5 billion, generating $1.5 billion in local and state revenues, reducing the tax burden for every Colorado household by $690. For more information, please visit

About the International Dark-sky Association:

The International Dark-sky Association (IDA) is the recognized authority on light pollution and is the leading organization combating light pollution worldwide. IDA’s vision is that the night sky, filled with stars, is celebrated and protected around the world as a shared heritage benefitting all living things. The IDA Colorado Chapter fulfills the mission of the IDA within the geographical area of the State of Colorado. Learn more at and