Summer Milky Way, Steel Creek, Buffalo River National Park. Eilish Reding Palmer.

Today, human habitat is often an artificial urban asphalt, concrete and steel world softened here and there with small some greenery. Our alienation from nature comes at a price for our physical, emotional and mental well-being. Our National Parks, forests, and monuments are reservoirs of nature to which we can escape.

Unfortunately, our estrangement from nature is such that much of it has slipped from our consciousness. For many, this includes nature’s grandest spectacle, the universe passing over our heads every night hidden in a veil of urban light. How many visitors to our wild places sit by the campfire at night never thinking to step away and look up? There can be no experience more soul cleansing than to lie in contemplation of a star-filled dark sky with a chorus of night creatures serenading as the Milky Way slowly wheels overhead.

The International Dark Sky Association believes that the opportunity to have that experience is as important as any other element of our natural places. Hence, IDA’s Dark Places program.

The Arkansas Natural Sky Association is working with the Buffalo National River to obtain Arkansas’ first Dark Sky Park accreditation. Highlighting the park’s dark sky resource will extract new value and add a new constituency dedicate to the river’s protection.

To gain accreditation, we must document the skies over the 150-mile length of the park. The Arkansas Canoe Club has agreed to help recruit members to assist in this, but anyone can participate. To learn how, and join in Click here.