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Northern Lights & Dark Skies Nature & Wildlife

Technically, the northern lights are what happens when electrical particles from the sun collide with gases in Earth’s atmosphere. But you don't need to know the why to appreciate the beauty. The astronomical greens, reds, purples and yellows of the aurora borealis are hypnotizing. • Only here: Alberta is home to some of the world’s largest dark sky preserves, including Wood Buffalo and Jasper national parks. That means there’s no artificial light around to obscure the extraterrestrial view. • Good to know: Your best shot to see the aurora borealis is September through mid-May. Visit for the Jasper Dark Sky festival in mid-October and, in addition to the view of the stars, you’ll get hands-on science and astronomy events. 

Jasper National Park | Ryan Bray

Dinosaur Provincial Park | Andy Best

Northern Light & Dark Sky Preserve Options

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Jasper Dark-Sky Preserve

Jasper, Alberta

Due to its vast size and location, the 11,000-sq km Jasper National Park is considered the world's largest accessible Dark-Sky Preserve. It's also one of best places to stargaze in the Canadian Rockies. Every October the park holds a Dark-Sky Festival that includes both free and ticketed events and workshops. You can learn about the constellations, listen to indigenous songs and stories and even pick up some tips for photographing the spectacular starlit sky.

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Beaver Hills Dark-Sky Preserve

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

This 300-sq km dark-sky preserve, just east of Edmonton, encompasses Elk Island National Park and neighbouring Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area. By reducing artificial light, the preserve increases the visibility of the night sky. Whether you stargaze around the campfire or attend the preserve's annual Star Party in September, you'll find that the night sky shines brighter in Beaver Hills.

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Cypress Hills Provincial Park Dark-Sky Preserve

Elkwater, Alberta

Due to its high elevation and lack of urban light pollution, Cypress Hills was the first designated Dark-Sky Preserve in Alberta. Every August the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada holds a Summer Star Party that's considered one of the largest stargazing events in the country. The park also offers a variety of camping options, so cosy up by the campfire and gaze in wonder at the starlit sky. If the conditions are right, you may even see the Northern Lights.

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Tours

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SunDog Tour Co.

Jasper, Alberta
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Providing memorable sightseeing, activity and transportation services. From daily sightseeing excursions, to group tours, to airport shuttles, to coach touring and conference services, our staff of holiday planners specialise in making your time in the mountains unforgettable.

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Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures

Banff, Alberta
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Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures is a Banff based, locally operated business offering custom designed tours, workshops and seminars in Banff National Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountains. We are knowledgeable and super enthusiastic about developing your photography skills and enjoyment of our amazing scenery in this world-class travel photography destination. We are passionate about the wider photography community and actively engage in educational, environmental and wildlife events and projects, both independently and through partnerships. Rocky Mountain Photo Adventures is a proud sponsor of the iconic Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

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Rocky Mountain Adventure Bike Touring Company Ltd

Edmonton, Alberta

Have you ever wanted to ride an adventure motorcycle through the beautiful Canadian Rockies and not take the tourist highways? Rocky Mountain Adventure Bike Touring Company specializes in guiding riders along the interesting and adventurous paths less travelled, in a unique, all-inclusive package.

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Events

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Jasper Dark Sky Festival

Jasper, Alberta
2018-10-12 To 2018-10-21 MST

In 2011, Jasper was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, due to its limited light pollution that creates ideal conditions for dark sky viewing. The Jasper Dark Sky Festival began with the goal of celebrating and preserving this status. At 11,000 square kilometers, Jasper National Park is considered to be the world’s largest accessible Dark Sky Preserves.From October 13-22, 2017, Jasper's Dark Sky Festival invites astronomers at every level to gaze upon the wonder of one of the world's largest dark sky preserves. As daylight hours begin to recede, October is the ideal time to celebrate the skies with the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival presented by Rocky Mountaineer, an ever-growing festival aimed at connecting all ages to our universe and beyond.Power Down. Look up.2017 Headliners:Brian Cox, Phil Plait, Bob McDonald, Natalie Panek, Rob Thacker, John Rennie and the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra Strings

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Perseid Meteor Shower

Jasper, Alberta
2018-08-10 To 2018-08-13 MST

Aug 10 (pre-peak, still lots of meteors possible) Aug 11 (peak) Aug 12 (peak) Often regarded as the BIG annual meteor shower of the year, the Perseids can have up to 60-80 shooting stars visible per-hour (up-to a meteor every 45-seconds or so, on-average) Your experience starts inside The Jasper Planetarium, then, come outside for a 10-minute shuttle ride into Jasper Dark Sky Preserve for an all-weather telescope experience. Here you'll receive a tour of the largest, most powerful telescopes in the Rockies at a special dark sky location, recent Jasper sky imagery from our new video telescope, tips on how to use your DSLR camera to photograph auroras and the Milky Way if weather permits and a live guided tour of meteors as they fall, plus objects in our Solar System and deep space as seen through our telescopes. Includes Q&A with our LIVE astronomy experts Various start-times - Tour begins in our planetarium at Marmot Lodge, 86 Connaught Dr. then shuttle departs for dark sky viewing area - See jasperplanetarium.com for details $89/adult, $29 youth (4-15)

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Milky Way Days

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
2018-09-02 To 2018-09-02 MST

Canada has always been a land of vibrant skyscapes. As part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, skies above Elk Island National Park are naturally dark and regularly show-off twinkling stars or dancing Northern Lights. Taking place over two days at two different locations, the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve’s 13th annual Star Party will be your gateway to the stars. Featuring volunteer astronomers to provide you with stargazing tips, guest speakers to cause you to marvel at the sky, and local musical performances to fill the air with festive spirit, this 2 day event will keep your whole family entertained.

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