Emmet County's International Dark Sky Park featured in "Midwest Living" magazine

Dark Sky Park in Emmet County (Courtesy Photo)

Emmet County is one of 25 places in America to visit in 2012 because of its dark skies at night.

That's according to a national magazine, â??Midwest Living.â??

The county has just one of nine dark sky parks in the world, and the national recognition is just a part of the excitement the designated park is receiving.

"Emmet County has succeeded in providing this new, exciting park," says Emmet County Director of Communications Beth Ann Piehl.

Emmet County's Headlands property was designated the ninth â??International Dark Sky Parkâ?? in the world in May of last year, its just one of six in the United States. That designation has snowballed, the latest, a mention in â??Midwest Livingâ?? magazine with a readership of more than four million people.

â??Since this article came out in â??Midwest Livingâ?? magazine, our web traffic has at least doubled in the last few days, so it's really exciting," says Piehl.

"Two-thirds of the United states lives where they can no longer see the Milky Way, that's devastating," says Mary Stewart-Adams, the Headlands International Dark Sky Park Program Director.

The article calls the Headlands International Dark Sky Park "an outdoor planetarium." The area has no light pollution, and what you can see once it's dark is remarkable. Since it opened, thousands have already made their way north to get a view, and many thousands more are expected.

â??They're tired of not seeing the night sky, I mean it's something that belongs to all of us," says Stewart-Adams.

For places like Mackinaw City, this designation is just going to be another reason for people to come visit the city, other than to catch a ferry ride to Mackinac Island or pick up that famous fudge. A local hotel manager says in the ever-evolving world of tourism, this is big.

"If it's a "been there, done that," and we don't continue to offer new activities, then they won't come back," says Heather Tamlyn, Mackinaw Cityâ??s Holiday Inn Express manager.

Tamlyn says just in the past few days, the excitement of the park has grown. Sheâ??s had calls from families and even tour groups who want to stay at night after gazing at the stars.

â??It's a huge selling point and great for the area," says Tamlyn.

And the selling point is just going to get larger. Several townships along the Emmet County coast want to follow the dark sky park lead.

"The dark sky coast is something that is going to be an exciting development in the coming months, and we'll see more of it," says Tom Bailey, Executive Director of Little Traverse Conservancy.

Every month, the dark sky park has a special presentation to talk about the stars in the sky.

The next one is scheduled for January 28th.

To learn more about Headlands International Dark Sky Park, CLICK HERE.