Since 1998, Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley, a 501(c)3 non-profit, has been working to reduce local light pollution and create public awareness of a valuable and irreplaceable part of our Western heritage. They have worked effectively to demonstrate that the clear night sky above us is a tremendous natural resource to be preserved and treasured. It is one of the few experiences that serves to connect all peoples, providing a powerful sense of awe and wonder when viewing the night sky as our ancestors once did.
In 2015, Silver Cliff and Westcliffe were recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as the ninth certified Dark Sky Community in the world; the first in Colorado, and with an elevation of 7,900′, the highest anywhere!
The Smokey Jack Observatory (SJO), located in The Bluff Park at the end of Main St, has become a top destination for people from all around the globe when visiting the Wet Mountain Valley. Visitors can view the heavens from the SJO with its state of the art, 14” computer-automated telescope. Free public Star Parties are at the SJO throughout the year celebrating various astronomical events along with reserved Star Parties from April-October for up to 10 visitors per night. All Star Parties are hosted by a trained Star Guide and can be booked online. (Unfortunately the SJO is closed in 2020).
Whether you are a serious amateur astronomer or someone who just wants the opportunity to enjoy a night sky free of light pollution and learn more about the awe-inspiring Universe right above us, you’ll have a special and unique opportunity when you visit one of Colorado’s most pristine night skies here in the Wet Mountain Valley.