SIA Guide to Celebrating Earth Day, Dark Sky Week, and National Parks Week

Saguaro National Park night sky


The first Earth Day, 50 years ago, gave us the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the EPA. So much has changed on our planet since then, yet the vital message of Earth Day, that healthy human communities require healthy ecosystems, is still true and there is more work to do. This year we observe Earth Day from home in the midst of a pandemic and an escalating climate crisis, both driven by human activity. We are faced with enormous challenges and also vast opportunities to chart a different future, to relate differently to the amazing world around us.  

Here in the Sky Islands we’re reveling in our dark skies and diverse nocturnal wildlife, reflecting on the importance of National Parks and other protected open space to provide safe haven for wildlife and to keep human communities safe, and celebrating the amazing diversity of life on earth. This week is also National Parks Week and International Dark Sky Week. Take a few moments to be immersed in the wonderfulness of this world and to take action to keep it thriving with life.  

Whether by learning more about the National Parks here in the Sky Island Region to honor National Parks Week or learning about nocturnal wildlife to celebrate Dark Sky Week, we’ve got a line-up of virtual experiences for you to help you celebrate Earth Day at home this year!  

Earth Day:

Celebrate Earth Day with a virtual talk by Program Director, Emily Burns, on the Secret Life of Nocturnal Wildlife:

What—When the sun sets, a diversity of wildlife roam through the night. Wildlife cameras detect the heat and motion of animals passing by and provide conservation scientists a new window into the nocturnal world of animals. In this talk, we will learn about which species emerge at twilight to forage under the stars through a virtual tour through the saguaro cactus forest of the Sonoran Desert up to the oak woodlands of the sky island mountains that cross the US-Mexico border. From sleek bobcats to grey fox on the prowl, we’ll look at how often mammals in Southern Arizona are active at night.

When—Wednesday, April 22 at 1:00pm MST

Where—Tune in live on YouTube HERE or Facebook HERE


Dark Sky Week: 

International Dark Sky Week celebrates the night, and the work to protect the night sky from light pollution. You can join International Dark Sky Week Virtually to reconnect with the night and explore the universe around us. 

Check out the full line up of dark sky speakers all week HERE

Check out many dark sky activities you can do from home HERE




National Parks Week:

National Parks and Monuments in the United States encompass some of our most loved natural treasures like Yellowstone, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. They provide wildlife protected open space with room to roam and in some places, offer exceptional quality starry nights. We’ve got some real gems here in the Sky Island Region – Saguaro National Park, Chiricahua National Monument, Tumacacori National Historic Park, Fort Bowie National Historic Park and Coronado National Memorial. If you haven’t visited these places before or can’t make it this year because we’re staying home to stay safe, you can still revel in some beauty.

Virtually tour Chiricahua National Monument with Arizona Public Media HERE

Watch National Geographic’s Best of Saguaro National Park HERE


Movie Night:


Are you hankering for a movie night featuring nature? Check out the titles below that you can stream at home this week in celebration of Earth Day:

  1. Take an immersive journey into the magical world of fungi. Fantastic Fungi is available to stream from the non-profit Loft Cinema in Tucson. Available HERE
  2. Take a micro view into the secret world of insects in the film Microcosmos with guests The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. Available HERE
  3. International Wildlife Film Festival. Available HERE 


Species of the Sky Islands

Test your knowledge of the plants and animals in the Sky Islands, and meet some new friends at our SPECIES GALLERY