Seeing stars in Canada’s clearest skies
Toronto can keep their film stars and movie sets. Canada’s brightest stars are still the sparklers you’ll see only beyond the big city lights. From reflective lakes and sloping valleys to rugged mountain ranges and hilltop observatories, we’ve scoped out the best vantage points for encountering the cosmos across the country.
Plan a trip to these glittering destinations and enjoy stargazing across Canada. Surround yourself in meteor showers sprinkling light across the sky, and try to spot Cassiopeia and Ursa Major. You might even get a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis while you’re at it. Check out this list of the top 10 stargazing spots—in no particular order—and keep your eyes on the sky!
1. Vermilion Lakes, Banff, AB
Located in Banff National Park, the Vermilion Lakes glisten along the winding Bow River. Sit on a peaceful dock at sunset and stick around to watch the constellations reflect off the surface of the water.
2. Garibaldi Provincial Park, BC
Sprinkled with several picturesque peaks, Garibaldi Provincial Park is a peaceful place to stare up at the sky from your own mountain top. Stay on the northern edge of the park in nearby Whistler, and wander a short distance into the wild.
3. Jasper National Park Dark-Sky Preserve, AB
Located in the Canadian Rockies, Jasper is one of the most star-crazed destinations in Canada, thanks to low light pollution and frequent Northern Lights sightings. The Jasper Planetarium and telescope host events and curious amateur astronomers. Visit in October and join the celestial celebrations at the annual Dark Sky Festival.
4. Mont-Mégantic International Dark-Sky Preserve, QB
In 2007, Mont-Mégantic National Park was named the first international dark-sky preserve in the world. Relax to the songs of several indigenous birds who thrive thanks to the low levels of artificial light. Stay in Sherbrooke, the nearest city, and take the scenic route. Hint: It’s all scenic route.
5. Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park, NB
When you can’t decide between a beach getaway and a stargazing excursion, make your way to the Bay of Fundy. Hopewell Cape provides a unique setting with natural rock formations and high tides. At night, the stars shine so bright that they illuminate the surrounding cliffs and giant pillars. You might even want to go on a Hopewell Rocks Night Photography Excursion with Creative Imagery, where you’ll get tips for perfect night shots from esteemed professionals.
6. Whiteshell Provincial Park, MB
Drive 130 km east from Winnipeg and you’ll find Whiteshell Provincial Park. This relatively small patch of land is known for its rainbow-hued sunsets, but don’t hurry back to the city too soon. Swirls of the Milky Way are especially visible over this region.
7. Wood Buffalo National Park, NT
This park is huge—the largest national park in the nation—stretching from northern Alberta to southern Northwest Territories. It also holds the title for the largest Dark-Sky Preserve in the world, with an area of 44,807km²! Observe herds of majestic wood bison in their natural habitat, and keep an eye out for the northern lights shimmering over the planes.
8. Point Pelee National Park, ON
When you arrive at the southernmost tip of Ontario, you’ll swear you’ve stepped into a beach paradise. This lush corner of Leamington dips into Lake Erie, so when you stand at the point, you’ll be surrounded by deep teal-blue water. Take a telescope or watch the water glow with the reflection of thousands of stars.
9. Big White Mountain Ecological Reserve, BC
Whether you spend your day hiking, kayaking, or skiing, steal away for secluded star-watching in the Big White Mountain Ecological Reserve. For a breathtaking view that’s available to all travellers, visit Okanagan Observatory, a handicap-accessible facility located between Big White Mountain and the nearest city, Kelowna.
10. Grasslands National Park, SK
Grasslands National Park sits far from the bright lights of Regina and Moose Jaw, but close enough for day trips or staying in the city. Bring the family for an easy hike over gentle rolling hills and listen to the wind rustle through the long grass as you teach the younger generation about the galaxy.
If you’ve been wishing for a gorgeous getaway, we know where you can find some shooting stars… Pack your bags and get ready to stay out late for the best stargazing in Canada. Whether you’re planning an outdoor adventure in your home state, or embarking on a cross-country, the sky’s the limit.
Header photo via Flickr/ビッグアップジャパン