During the day Alberta offers some truly stunning views, but when the sun dips behind the horizon, the night offers its own magic.
From skies dotted with twinkling stars to the spectacular Northern Lights dancing across the horizon in hypnotizing hues, the province’s dark sky preserves afford unique viewing opportunities. In fact, Alberta is home to some of the world’s largest dark sky preserves – meaning there’s no artificial light nearby to obscure views.
As we stay close to home for now, it’s the perfect time to gather ideas for future adventures. If your imagination is captivated by the night sky, here are a must-visit star-gazing destinations.
Jasper Dark Sky Preserve – Jasper, Alberta
Located in Jasper National Park, the Jasper Dark Sky Preserve is actually the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world. And, because there’s a town within the limits of the preserve, they’re actually the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve!
With a commitment to preserve and protect the night sky and reduce light pollution in all forms, it explains why the Jasper Dark Sky Preserve is one of the best places to stargaze in the Canadian Rockies.
They even hold a Dark Sky Festival every October, boasting free and ticketed events and workshops, where attendees can learn about the constellations, listen to Aboriginal songs and stories, and even pick up some tips for photographing the spectacular starlit sky. This year, the event is scheduled from Oct. 15 to 24 – mark your calendars so you don’t miss out on these remarkable views.
Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve – Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
Located east of Edmonton, the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve encompasses Elk Island National Park as well as the neighbouring Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. At more than 300 sq.km., by reducing artificial light pollution, it’s an ideal spot to look up and enjoy clear panoramic views of the star-dotted sky and northern lights. Whether it’s stargazing around the fire, or joining the preserve’s annual Star Party in September, you’re sure to be transfixed by skies above.
Cypress Hills Provincial Park Dark Sky Preserve – Elkwater, Alberta
Located in Cypress Hills Provincial Park, a high elevation combined with a lack of urban light pollution made Cypress Hills the first designated Dark Sky Preserve in Alberta. Every August, the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada gathers to host their annual Summer Star Party – one of the largest stargazing events in the country. With a variety of campsites available, you can cosy up by the fire as you gaze upwards to the stunning starlit sky. Make sure to visit between October to May for the best chances of viewing the Northern Lights, although if you’re a night owl, you can also catch a glimpse of them late at night during summer months.
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