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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. 

Dinosaur Provincial Park | Andy Best

Northern Light & Dark Sky Preserve Options

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Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta

This 300 sq km (116 sq mi) 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 to be 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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Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

Jasper, Alberta

Due to its vast size and location, the 11,000 sq km (4,247 mi) Jasper National Park is considered to be 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 aboriginal songs and stories, and even pick up some tips for photographing the spectacular starlit sky.

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Holiday Packages

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Northern Lights and Winter Rockies

Combine a 3-night stay in search of the aurora borealis at Fort McMurray - one of the best places in Canada to view this natural phenomenon - with a leisurely exploration of the Canadian Rockies.

Offered By: Discover the World

Expires: 2019-04-05
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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 vacation planners specialize in making your time in the mountains unforgettable.

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SunDog Tour Co.

Jasper, Alberta
TripAdvisor Traveller Rating:

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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 vacation planners specialize in making your time in the mountains unforgettable.

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Alta-CAN Aurora Tours

Fort McMurray, Alberta

Join Alta-CAN Aurora Tours in Fort McMurray for our signature Aurora Borealis tour to see the spectacular northern lights. The three-night all-inclusive tours, available in Fall, Winter and Spring, include accommodation, transfers to our private viewing site, two meals and professional photography tips.

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Events

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Jasper Dark Sky Festival

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

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 Oct. 12-21, 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. Power Down. Look up.

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Snowshoe & Stargaze

Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
2018-12-22 To 2018-12-22 MST | Show All Dates

Trek over snow and gaze into a star-filled sky. Following a short guided hike on snowshoes you'll enjoy snacks around a fire and learn about the night sky above. Register in advance and meet at the Astotin Lake Beach Parking Lot. Cost per person: $29.80.

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