On March 18 Massacre Rim was recognized for the quality of its starry nights and its nighttime environment, showing that it meets the strict standards set by the International Dark-Sky Association to become a Dark Sky Sanctuary, according to the IDA website.
The area is just over 101,000 acres in the far northern area of Washoe County near the California and Oregon borders, and it is only the fourth place in the U.S. to become a Dark Sky Sanctuary.
The area is located 100 miles north of Gerlach, Nevada, which is featured in writer Oliver Roeder’s “The Darkest Town in America,” a chronicle of Roeder's search for the darkest place on the continent.
National Geographic reports that 80 percent of Americans cannot see the Milky Way due to light pollution, says the IDA, and researchers worry that humans are losing appreciation for the “dark sky blanketed in stars.”
Visitors can reach Massacre Rim via Route 8A heading east out of Cedarville.
Nevada State Route 34 goes across the western edge of Massacre Rim, while interior areas of Dark Sky Sanctuary are accessible only by rugged dirt roads that require a high-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicle.
"This designation literally puts Washoe County on the Dark Sky map,” Friends of Nevada Wilderness Executive Director Shaaron Netherton said. “We are just thrilled that this special place has been recognized for its natural values.”
Massacre Rim is home to wildlife like pronghorn, desert bighorn sheep, greater sage-grouse and birds of prey.
The area’s vistas give expansive and unobstructed views of the night sky.