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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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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 neighboring 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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Jasper Dark Sky Preserve

Jasper, Alberta

Due to it's 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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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 cozy 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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Travel Offers

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Discover Stargazing Tour

Join an introductory, low-intensity tour involving a short walk to a secluded stargazing point. The focus is on discovering the night sky and spending most of your time actually stargazing, using quality telescopes, binoculars, and other stargazing equipment. Use promo code TA2018 to secure 10% off.

Expires: 2018-12-31
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Dark Sky Adventure Tour

The Dark Sky Adventure Tour is for the adventurous traveler! Featuring a longer and more-physically-demanding night hike, the Adventure Tour guides participants away from the lights, and into the backcountry, where they will have access to a telescope, binoculars, and other stargazing equipment. Use promo code TA2018 for 10% off.

Expires: 2018-12-31
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Jasper SkyTram Star Sessions

Blast off with astronomy experts from the Jasper Planetarium for an exclusive experience atop the Skytram, where you'll have the chance to look through powerful telescopes under the darkest skies in the Rockies. Package includes SkyTram admission, and a stargazing experience. Upgrade package to include a 3-course meal for $26.

Expires: 2018-10-27
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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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Lens on Nature

Fort McMurray, Alberta

Lens on Nature’s mission is to enable our guests the opportunity to immerse themselves and experience the remote beauty, history and culture of Fort Chipewyan, one of Alberta’s most isolated and northern communities. They offer carefully created, professionally guided three day adventures which include travelling a 280 km (174 mi) road made entirely of snow and ice to Fort Chipewyan, dog sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, historical tours and a chance of seeing aurora borealis. With each trip, guests receive a collection of inspiring images in a professionally designed hard cover book that captures the sense of authenticity of their adventure.

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Northern Lights Outdoor Excursions Alberta Ltd

Fort McMurray, Alberta

Our 2 nights/ 3 days package includes two viewings of the aurora borealis. A host of optional outdoor tours and activities are also available. Tour dates are offered throughout the winter and spring. We are a locally owned Fort McMurray company, with many years of hospitality experience, as well as a deep involvement in the Fort McMurray market and throughout the Wood Buffalo region. Together with our multi-lingual guides, we offer a team of experienced professionals, all dedicated to the comfort of each and every guest.

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Events

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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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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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