An opportunity arose while we were traveling in North Carolina to visit the first and currently only dark sky park in the southeast U.S. Set in the Blue Ridge Mountains and Pisgah National Forest the park has a well protected buffer zone of darkness. The park itself is a 6-acre property of the Mayland Community College. Previously a landfill capped in 1994, the site is a uniquely programmed space of methane energy harvesting and artist studios.
At this time the park has funding and plans in place to install a large scale telescope and observatory in 2015. The EnergyXchange programming of the site is operational and open M-F 10am-4pm and Sat 9am-12pm. When we contacted the program director Jon Wilmesherr he told us the park is available to pedestrian traffic all night. So we drove up after dusk and hiked into the site. Having only visited the site under the cover of the stars the park may be might different during the day but the idea of knowing a place in darkness is welcoming.
The small scale of Blue Ridge makes it comparable to The Headlands and Lake Hudson Dark Sky Parks in Michigan but the programming is uniquely different yet complimentary to the dark sky objectives. The appropriation of the dark sky designation by such a differentiated site use sets precedent to the alternative applications of darkness. While surrounded by wilderness the occupation of the site is infrastructural introducing dark sky landscapes to new and productive locations.
To find out more about the park click > here!