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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

Dinosaur Adventure

Drumheller | Daryl Reid

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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3-Day Northern Lights Excursion

Discover and photograph the dancing lights of Aurora Borealis on a 3-day tour that includes accommodation. An onsite professional photographer will help you learn to photograph the night sky. From $668 per person based on double occupancy. Book spring dates through May or book early for fall/winter dates starting Sept.

Expires: 2018-05-27
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Jasper Planetarium and Telescope COMBO

From May-Oct, enjoy the Planetarium and Telescope experiences for one low price! Join astronomy experts for a live tour in the dome theatre. Then, come outside to tour the largest telescope in the Rockies, see imagery from the video telescope, sky photography tips, and weather permitting, views through telescopes.

Expires: 2018-10-28
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Adventure Borealis

Fort McMurray, Alberta

Adventure Borealis offers premier outdoor adventures in the heart of the oil sands. Our local Metis guides help ensure your memories of an outdoor experience in Fort McMurray will last a lifetime. Our years of outdoor experience and knowledge of the region will provide a safe and enjoyable experience.

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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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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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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 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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