National Park Service

The luminous glow of light pollution prevents nearly 80 percent of people in North America from seeing the Milky Way in the night sky.

That's according to a new atlas of artificial night sky brightness that found our home galaxy is now hidden from more than one-third of humanity.

It's getting harder to see the stars in North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and it's due to flares, drilling rigs and all the lights from the Bakken oilfield.

Since 2010, scientists with the National Park Service have measured a 500 percent increase in the amount of anthropogenic light there — no other national park in America has seen such a rapid increase in light pollution.

Kent Friesen is standing in a dark field in the North Dakota Badlands, peering into a huge telescope.

The cost of getting into some national parks increases on Thursday.

The rates will go up despite the fact that visitation at parks is up, which means bigger crowds, congested traffic and busier visitor centers. But more people aren't translating into a big boost for park budgets. For example, visitation at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is up 20 percent so far this year and Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion are also seeing double-digit increases. The parks are also seeing the strain. About 100 parks are planning an entrance fee hike.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Courtesy of Greg Owens

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is now an International Dark Sky Park. 

"Being an international dark skies park means the Black Canyon has exceptional starry nights [and] an environment that's great for people and wildlife, but it’s also a place where an exceptional amount of astronomy education takes place," said Nick Myers, a lead interpreter at the site.


Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET

Visiting a national park this summer?

Be prepared to pay more for the experience. Many national parks across the country, faced with tight budgets and delayed maintenance, are increasing entrance fees.

The National Park Service says 106 of the 128 parks that charge entry fees are raising those fees or planning to do so in the coming year.

The list includes many of the most popular parks such as Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon, as well as monuments and historic sites.

Black Canyon Astronomy Festival Kicks Off

Jun 17, 2015
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Courtesy of Greg Owens

The sixth annual Black Canyon Astronomy Festival starts today and runs through Saturday, June 20. 

The festival takes place at the south rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park outside of Montrose. The event is put on with the help of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.

KVNF's Laura Palmisano spoke to Art Trevena, the group’s vice president, to learn more about this year’s festival. 

Colorado National Monument
National Parks Service

A new federal report finds in 2014 national parks saw a record number of visitors. And, those tourists generated nearly $30 billion in economic activity. 

Colorado has a dozen national parks. More than 6 million people visited these sites last year, according a National Park Service report. 

It says tourists contributed more than $370 million in visitor spending to local gateway communities. And, the study says that spending supported 5,800 jobs in the state. 

Overall, NPS estimates national parks had an economic impact of $552 million on Colorado’s economy.  

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
NPS

A new report estimates national parks need $11.5 billion to address maintenance and repair projects. The National Park Service report finds Colorado parks alone could use more than $200 million dollars.

KVNF’s Laura Palmisano speaks to Sandra Snell-Dobert, a spokesperson for Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area. 

Black Canyon of the Gunnison
J. Schwartz

A new report found areas managed by the National Park Service received over 273 million visitors last year and those visitors spent $14.6 billion in local gateway communities.

The NPS report found tourism at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area had an economic impact of $43.5 million in 2013. 

NPS To Offer Tours At Blue Mesa Reservoir For First Time

May 29, 2014
Blue Mesa Reservoir, NPS
NPS

    

The National Park Service will not offer Morrow Point boat tours in June this year. 

Park officials said this winter’s generous snowpack in the upper Gunnison Basin means the Bureau of Reclamation will have to send a lot of water downstream this summer. 

Brant Porter, a Curecanti park ranger, said the water management scenario for the Gunnison River from Blue Mesa to Black Canyon is not compatible for boat tours at the reservoir.