Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor Program

Program Overview

As a result of HB22-1382, the Colorado Tourism Office and DarkSky Colorado seek to partner with tourism destinations across the state that are interested in advancing strategies that help achieve International Dark Sky Place (IDSP) certification and enhance Colorado’s visitor experience.

Participants in the Colorado Dark Sky Certification Mentor program will receive 70 hours of free consulting support from DarkSky Colorado to implement activities that reduce light pollution and protect access to Colorado’s incredible night skies. Successful implementation will increase Colorado’s competitive edge as a destination and provide a wealth of benefits for Colorado communities.

Program objectives include:

  • increased collaboration between state and local tourism leaders
  • reduced energy consumption and economic impact from cost savings and increased property value
  • increased local and regional quality of life through enhanced health and well-being, cultural heritage, and sense of place
  • increased awareness of the value of visible night skies and their benefit to local wildlife and ecology
  • increased number of IDSP certifications in Colorado

Program participants will collaborate with representatives from DarkSky Colorado to develop a scope of work that details how they will utilize the 70 hours of free consulting provided through the program. Example consulting activities include:

  • understanding how to structure a successful application for IDSP Certification
  • foster alignment between local stakeholders and buy-in for IDSP certification
  • understand the requirements and successful language related to local ordinances and land use codes to reduce light pollution and energy consumption
  • facilitate site visits to conduct assessments of local lighting infrastructure and measure darkness levels with a Sky Quality Meter
  • host stargazing or other community dark sky awareness events
  • increase outreach and education regarding the benefits of dark sky certification that improve quality of life
  • develop, enhance, and promote visitor experiences related to stargazing
  • support local partner organizations that provide long-term sustainability of dark sky programming

Program timeline:

October 3, 2023 Applications Open
November 9, 2023 at 4pm MDT Applications Close
December 15, 2023 Award Notifications
December 2023 Work Begins
June 2024 Program Completed


Registered non-profit organizations or local city, county, state, tribal, or federal governmental organizations are eligible to apply.

Program eligibility is limited to locations that have submitted a request to join the DarkSky Internationals designation pipeline. If you have not already done so, you can open a file on the DarkSky.org website. Note that there is a $250 application fee to open a file.

Applications on behalf of Colorado communities, parks, or reserves must also include a letter of support from the appropriate governing body that the proposed location is (e.g. a land management agency, Board of County Commissioners, Tribal Council, and/or Town Council).

How to Apply

Although not required, we encourage you to submit a brief LOI prior to completing a full application so that the Colorado Tourism Office and DarkSky Colorado can learn more about your interest in this program.

Applications will open Tuesday, October 3, 2023. Sign up for the CTO newsletter to receive information on the application.

Register here to attend an informational webinar on October 3 from 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.

A copy of the application questions is available for your review beforehand. 

Roles and responsibilities of program participants:

  • identifying a project champion currently leading the application who will work directly with the mentor
  • participation in planning meetings with the Colorado Tourism Office and DarkSky Colorado to develop a scope of work for 70 hours of free consulting
  • ongoing leadership within their destination to implement the scope of work, with the mentor acting as extended support team
  • timely responses to communications from the Colorado Tourism Office and DarkSky Colorado

As part of the application, you will also need to provide:

  • a Certificate of Good Standing from the Colorado Secretary of State
  • a letter of support from the land management agency, Board of County Commissioners, Tribal Council, and/or Town Council (if applicable)
  • letters of support from additional individuals and organizations are not required, but applications demonstrating broad community support are more competitive

Selection Process

A panel of industry partners and representatives from both Colorado Tourism Office and DarkSky Colorado reviews applications and recommends awards based on demonstrated need, capacity to participate, and demonstrated support from appropriate governing bodies. A representative from the Colorado Tourism Office will respond to your application within one month of the application deadline.


Type: Technical assistance and certification

For: Tourism partners

OEDIT division: Colorado Tourism Office

Program Manager

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