Go Somewhere Dark
Alberta is home to the world’s two largest dark sky preserves – Jasper National Park and Wood Buffalo National Park. Here you can see countless constellations, the planets, and the backbone of the Milky Way, all visible with the naked eye.
Jasper National Park is the most accessible dark sky preserve in the world. Against the darkest sky, endless amounts of stars sparkle in the sky creating breathtaking vistas. Experience the awe on your own or explore with someone special with Jasper Park Lodge’s Star Gazer Astronomy Package, fostering the romance in the starry night.
Visit in October and take part in the Jasper Dark Sky Festival where you can gaze through fat telescopes to see faraway galaxies, take part in an interactive astronomy presentation and learn the secrets of night photography. While you’re at it, watch for the infamous northern lights.
The northern lights are the most surreal natural phenomena on earth and Alberta is a prime location to seek the midnight glow of the Aurora Borealis. The aurora is best seen in the winter months when solar activity is highest from just about anywhere away from urban light pollution, particularly our dark sky preserves. Swirling swatches of colour dancing across the night sky make the northern lights a unique experience you have to see to believe. Nothing sends chills up your spine like seeing for yourself nature’s own light show.
Setting the Scene
Just east of Edmonton, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Recreational Area and Elk Island National Park play host to a combined dark sky preserve of 293 square kilometers, called Beaver Hills. Winter camping is available in Elk Island National Park, where you’ll see plenty of bison in their shaggy winter coats with a starry, colourful backdrop deep in the night.
Even Southern Alberta is treated with starry skies and occasionally northern lights at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Given its elevation, the area is a dark sky preserve, too.