Watoga State Park has become the first site in West Virginia to be designated a Dark Sky Park by the International Dark Sky Association, providing new opportunities for astronomy tourism and programming and nocturnal wildlife observation.
The designation includes neighboring Calvin Price State Forest and nearby Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park, both of which are managed by Watoga, West Virginia’s largest state park. Combined, the three southern Pocahontas County parks total 19,869 acres.
Watoga is one of 112 tracts of public land worldwide to be awarded Dark Sky Park status. To receive the designation, multiple night sky surveys are taken at candidate parks to determine if the degree and quality of darkness meets International Dark Sky Association standards. Next, parks must meet stringent outdoor lighting standards, then establish innovative community outreach programs to form new partnerships and initiate new educational programs.