Enjoy Dark Skies at Leadville & Twin LakesJune 21, 2023
This summer, enjoy the magic of dark skies near Leadville and Twin Lakes, Colorado. Far away from city lights, you can marvel at bright moonlight or thousands of stars. Bring a telescope to peer into the universe. Or time your visit for meteor showers and watch fireworks in space.
Where to Go
Consider these star-struck locations:
- Twin Lakes, Colorado, is a small village surrounded by miles and miles of national forest. Slip into the trees or along the shoreline just out of sight of Highway 82. There you’ll find a spectacular view of the cosmos.
- Leadville’s East Side Mining District offers above-treeline views of the wide heavens. No camping or sleeping in cars overnight is allowed in the Mining District, to protect the fragile tundra from camping impacts.
- Climbing a 14er? Start your hike before dawn to be down before afternoon thunderstorms arrive—and to catch an unforgettable view of the stars.
Twin Lakes Dark Sky – Saturday Night Programs
Are you intrigued about the night sky? Ever wondered about stories behind the stars?
In two free programs, join Joan from the Forest Service for a safe night hike and stargazing on the shores of Twin Lakes. Learn how to see and hike in the dark. Listen to stories of the past and present and learn how to reduce light pollution.
Meet at the Red Rooster boating/ fishing site on Highway 82 in Twin Lakes.
- Please install the app “Stellarium” on your phone prior to coming to the program.
- Please dress in layers and wear sturdy shoes.
- Bring a camp chair or blanket and a headlamp that has a red (or low-light color) setting!
Children must come with an adult for this free, fun program. The program may be cancelled if there is rain or lightning.
Get starry-eyed with these resources:
- 2023 space calendar with dates for the new moon, full moon, meteor showers, and more.
- Moonrise, sunrise, and sunset times and moon phase chart (While these times are for the Leadville National Fish Hatchery, we have found the moonrise times listed to be earlier than actual moonrise. Please use this as a general guide.)
- Constellations you can see from Colorado
- How to make your own telescope
- Interactive map of sky brightness or NASA Blue Marble Navigator to see how bright your home sky is
Help Preserve our Dark Skies
Did you know that 99% of Americans live somewhere with light pollution?
On your vacation, you’ll have the chance to really see the night sky. Consider minimizing the use of lights on your trip to give your eyes, and your fellow campers’ eyes, a break. Doing so will also avoid confusing wildlife and night birds and let moths follow their usual patterns. Better still for your arms and ankles, using fewer lights will attract fewer bugs—and encourage them to stay flying in the forest for wildlife’s midnight snacks.
Consider these tips for a dark sky vacation:
- Point lights down at the ground. Use a top shield where possible to keep light from escaping upward.
- Use warm lights instead of blue tones. Minimize use of devices with blue light—better for your sleep and wildlife’s.
- Limit outside light use. Consider keeping lanterns and outside RV lights off and using patio string lights only at home. For safety concerns, consider a motion sensor light.
- Tone down flashlights. Use a flashlight or headlamp on low if possible, and use a red lens or setting for night vision.
- Use curtains. Close RV curtains and tent flaps and shades when staying in comfy hotel, motel, B&B or rental. Doing so will help keep the night sky natural, deep in the Colorado Rockies.