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Backcountry hidden pleasures:   Our guide to unique lodging adventures in San Diego’s beautiful backcountry

By Miriam Raftery, East County Magazine

Photos credited to ©Dennis Mammana/

January 22, 2018 (Borrego Springs) – Night sky photographer Dennis Mammana made this announcement Friday on Facebook: “Proud to announce that our thousand-square-mile Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has just received its official designation as an International Dark Sky Park. That means that the Dark Sky Community of Borrego Springs is now completely surrounded by an official Dark Sky Park!”

The designation follows a 2009 designation of Borrego Springs as an International Dark Sky Community. At 650,000 acres, Anza-Borrego is the largest state park in California, with two-thirds protected as designated wilderness area. 

The parks Acting District Superintendent Norb Ruhmke calls the announcement “exciting news” adding that the park has made improvements to light fixtures to protect wildlife and enable visitors to enjoy the beauty the desert has to offer at night.”

According to the Dark Sky Association, Anza-Borrego’s commitment to protecting and interpreting the night skies was a factor in the designation.  The park and the Borrego Springs community together are located in a “pool” of natural darkness in the Southern California desert, as shown on a map at New World Atlas of Artificial Sky Brightness.

IDA Executive Director J. Scott Feierabend says of the designation, “We’re very pleased with the outcome for Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It builds significantly on the previous designation of Borrego Springs as an International Dark Sky Community, and strengthens dark-skies protections for both. As a result, many millions of people in southern California continue to be able to access and enjoy a nearby, dark night sky.”

You can enjoy the dark skies experience on Borrego Night Sky Tours offered by Mammana and other programs in the park. Learn more at

Learn more about Anza Borrego Desert State Park at

East County Magazine gratefully acknowledges the County of San Diego for providing a Community Enhancement Grant to support our “Backcountry Hidden Pleasures” weekend getaways coverage.

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Dark Sky

Great news. When I was a kid I could see the Milky Way from Lemon Grove. Today it's difficult to see even from Mt. Laguna due to light pollution.
Don't use outdoor lights that are brighter than necessary, use lights that are shielded and point down.
My sister lives in a rural area and a neighbor installed a high pressure sodium light in his yard, destroying the night sky viewing.