Huerfano, Custer, Alamosa, Mineral and Hinsdale counties announced they are jointly launching The Dark Sky Tour of Colorado after receiving a$25,000 Colorado Tourism Office grant.

The tour will connect several Colorado locations known for their dark skies and stargazing opportunities, according to a press release.

It will also highlight dark sky events, develop daytime itineraries so visitors can take advantage of other tourism assets at each destination and encourage conservation and preservation of natural and cultural resources.

Within the five counties, visitors will find International Dark Sky Association Designated Communities, areas just starting the designation process and others in between.

The relative lack of light pollution, high elevations, low humidity and clear skies provide optimal conditions for stargazing, tourism officials said.

The Dark Sky Tour will “draw the type of low-impact, appreciative visitors we seek. Our diverse landscape, heritage, arts and outdoor activities allow travelers to create a memorable travel story,” Charley Ellison, Custer County Tourism Board treasurer, said.

The counties are partnering with Colorado marketing agency VistaWorks to help build and promote the tour, which agency officials said is not only the first of its kind in Colorado but one of the first in the nation.

During the Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT) session in Alamosa earlier this year, dark skies was identified as one of the leading topics that was new, interesting and had the highest potential for economic and environmental impact.

While the tour is in its infancy, organization leaders plan to expand participation and geographic representation as it grows.

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