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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

Fort McMurray

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

The aurora borealis is a breathtaking wonder with universal appeal. Northern Lights Outdoor Excursions provides visitors with the ideal way to make this the experience of a lifetime! This 3 day/2 night package includes two viewings of the aurora borealis in Fort McMurray.

Expires: 2018-02-15
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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.

Expires: 2018-02-08
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Jasper Dark Sky Package

Travel into Jasper National Park, one of the world's largest Dark Sky Preserves, and explore the wonders of the world beyond our atmosphere. From family-friendly activities to exciting Space Talks, this Festival will leave all participants wanting to learn more. Package includes overnight stay for 2 guests. Subject to availability.

Expires: 2017-10-20
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Tours

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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. We 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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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
2017-10-13 to 2017-10-22 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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Jasper SkyTram Star Sessions

Jasper, Alberta
2017-09-08 to 2017-09-09 MST | Show All Dates

Blast off with astronomy experts from The Jasper Planetarium for an exclusive dining and stargazing experience atop the Jasper Skytram. Your SkyTram flight will take you nearly 1 km closer to the stars above, to the Skytram Upper Station, where you'll have the chance to look through the most powerful telescopes in the Canadian Rockies, under the darkest skies in the Rockies. Join a guided tour of the Solar System, learning about planets, galaxies, and constellations, and if you're lucky, you might even see a meteor or the Northern Lights! You'll also have a chance to attend a special talk on Canada's dark skies or a quick workshop about how to photograph objects in the night sky with your DSLR camera. Cost Includes return Skytram Flight, 2 Course Meal, and Star Gazing Experience.

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