Stargazing in Westcliffe, CO

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An International Dark Sky Community

In 2015, The International Dark Sky Association named Westcliffe / Silver Cliff the world’s 9th International Dark Sky Community. It’s the first in Colorado–and the highest elevation Dark Sky Community, period. 

Astronomy enthusiasts and photographers come to Westcliffe from around the world to admire and capture our magnificent skies. You’ll commonly hear visitors remark, “I’ve never seen so many stars…”  But truly, no matter how long you live here, you’ll never grow accustomed to just how majestic the skies are on a clear night. It’s one of the few places where you can see the Milky Way in-town with your naked eye.

Even better, our skies bring the community together. Smokey Jack Observatory is home to one the powerful telescopes in Colorado, hosts frequent events, classes, and even private or public ‘Star Parties.’

Smokey Jack Observatory

Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley, a non-profit organization who helped champion Westcliffe / Silver Cliff as a Dark Sky Community, also built an observatory.

Run by volunteers, Smokey Jack Observatory is located in The Bluff Park near downtown Westcliffe. It features a roll-off roof and a state-of-the-telescope powered by software that does the hard work of tracking and finding objects for you.

Don’t miss the New York Times’s video feature on the observatory.


Star parties

Smokey Jack Observatory hosts frequent Star Parties, many based on astronomical events, throughout the year. You’ll want to bookmark their event calendar. Star Parties are free and open to public. You can also request a free, private Star Party hosted by a trained Star Guide.

Speaker series

Dark Skies Inc. of the Wet Mountain Valley is passionate about preserving the exceptional quality of the skies in Custer County. They often host educational programs and bring in fascinating speakers, including astronomers.

Photography classes

If you’re passionate about photography, you’ll love the astrophotography classes frequently hosted in Westcliffe. Throughout late spring and summer, you can find workshops hosted by various photographers. Many classes are composed of small groups who meet to photograph the skies until sunrise, concluding with a team breakfast.

In the news

Denver Post

New York TImes

Colorado Towns Work to Preserve a Diminishing Resource: Darkness

explore more

Dark Skies of the Wet Mountain Valley / Smokey Jack Observatory

Be sure to bookmark their event calendar.

3Peaks Photography & Design

3 Peaks hosts popular night sky workshops, led by Colorado Springs photographer, Michael J. Pach. Check their website for their next available dates.