Santa Elena Canyon under the Milky Way in Big Bend National Park, Texas
© Stanley Ford/Shutterstoc
Big sky at Big Bend
Seventy-six years ago today, on June 12, 1944, Big Bend officially became a US national park. The park covers more than 800,000 acres in West Texas along the Mexico border. This vast area—big enough to swallow Rhode Island—contains mountain, river, and desert ecosystems, including the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the United States. Far removed from any urban centers and the light pollution that comes with them, Big Bend boasts some of the darkest skies you'll find in the Lower 48, earning it a designation as an international dark sky park. Even after 76 years, Big Bend still glows.