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What we do International Dark Sky Places

Oregon Outback

An adult and child holding hands beneath a star-filled night sky.


Eastern Lake County (Phase 1 of the proposed Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary) is located in a remote and sparsely populated area of southeastern Oregon, regionally referred to as the “Oregon Outback.” Lake County comprises approximately 2.5 million acres and includes unincorporated communities and several early 20th-century homesteads. The Oregon Outback region is home to the indigenous Northern Paiute people and boasts one of North America’s oldest known human occupation sites and numerous ancient petroglyphs. The skies above the Outback are among the darkest in the world. According to the Light Pollution Science and Technology Institute research, the site is within the largest contiguous dark sky zone in the United States. 

Eastern Lake County is a stargazer’s paradise, with clear, high desert skies and few trees to obscure a sweeping expanse of the night sky over sage scrub rangelands, mountains, enormous freshwater and alkali lakes, and snow-white playas. Below the vault of stars are many geological wonders, like Abert Rim, one of the highest fault scarps (at 2,490 feet) in the United States and the longest exposed fault scarp (at 30 miles long) in North America. Several hot springs are found in the area. The Sanctuary provides priority habitat for an array of wildlife, including American pronghorn (aka antelope), bighorn sheep, sage grouse, white-tailed jack rabbit, and migratory birds navigating the Pacific Flyway. 

Phase 1 certification took an enormous collaborative effort to bring numerous stakeholders together to make it a success. Stakeholders representing federal, tribal, state, and county governments, non-profit and destination management organizations, businesses, and private individuals all worked together to inventory and retrofit private and public outdoor lights and hosted dark sky outreach programs and events. A joint Lighting Management Plan (LMP) was developed and adopted by all participating land managers and county officials, who signed a resolution committing to the provisions of the LMP. Night sky quality data was captured and evaluated to document darkness throughout the site and will continue to be monitored for impacts to night sky quality into the future.

In addition to programming and events in Lake County, the Oregon Outback Dark Sky Network (ODSN) is establishing public and private outdoor lighting demonstration sites within the greater proposed Oregon Outback International Dark Sky Sanctuary (OOIDSS) area and counties to the east. These sites will be primarily self-interpretive, with at least one guided event annually, and will feature dark sky maps and brochures highlighting the Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting

Long-term measures to protect the region from outside threats to the nocturnal environment are underway as ODSN advocates seek to expand the Sanctuary into other southeastern Oregon counties, including Harney and Malheur. With nearly ninety percent of the eventual OOIDSS being within protected federal and state public lands, ample outdoor recreational opportunities exist, including wildlife viewing, photography, hiking, stargazing, camping, bicycling, and hunting. Overnight accommodations include lodges, cabins, RV parks, and hotels. Guide services are available for remote adventures in the Outback. 


10,074.21 Sq. Km




International Dark Sky Sanctuary


Lake County Chamber of Commerce
126 North E Street,
Lakeview, OR 97630
Google Maps


Travel Southern Oregon: Oregon Outback Dark Sky Sanctuary


Bob Hackett
Dawn J. Nilson


Annual Reports


Click here to find ideal environmental conditions for enjoying dark skies near Lakeview, Oregon (42.19, -120.35).