National Parks are known for many things. They are places people can learn about important historical events, experience the culture of the area, and find a relaxing haven away from the stress of everyday life. They are also home to some of the best dark skies in the nation. Some of the more popular dark sky parks are Death Valley, Chaco Culture, and Natural Bridges. These dark sky parks are internationally classified by the International Dark-Sky Association because there is very minimal light pollution from surrounding areas. Now, being in Corpus Christi, there is a good amount of light pollution. Though there are only about 300,000 people, so by no means the light pollution of a city like New York or Boston, it is still enough to mask the night sky from within city limits. This is where Padre Island National Seashore comes to the rescue! Only 25 miles outside of the city, it has remarkably dark skies, especially as you travel down the 60 miles of undeveloped beach. Though not officially recognized as a dark sky park, just 1 mile down the beach I was able to see the Milky Way stretched across the sky!

Starry Starry Sky!!
Starry Starry Sky!!
The Milky Way!!
The Milky Way!!

I have never seen the Milky Way so majestic. Then, when a meteor flew straight across it leaving a trail upwards of 4 seconds long, my jaw dropped. It was just unbelievable. In that moment I forgot all about the mosquitoes eating me alive and was simply amazed. That is the kind of feeling a National Park can bring you. Breathtaking. Awe-inspiring. Magical. There are too many words I want to use to define it, but none of them can quite capture it. Going out onto the beach at night has now become part of the routine for me. I just can’t get enough.