10 Awe-inspiring Stargazing Hot Spots in Canada

Skyline of Canadian landscape with purple starry sky above mountains in the distance and a still lake and trees on the horizo

Toronto may have their film stars and movie sets, but to see Canada’s brightest stars you’ve got to venture 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.

Plan a trip to these glittering destinations and enjoy stargazing all over Canada. Surround yourself in meteor showers sprinkling light across the sky, and try to spot Cassiopeia tossing wishes into the Big Dipper. 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 and keep your eyes on the sky!

10. Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park

Nearby city: Moncton, NB

Three people stand near the Hopewell Rocks during low tide after dark. They use telescopes to look toward the sky with lots of stars.

Image courtesy of Kevin Snair

When you can’t decide between a beach getaway and a stargazing excursion, make your way to the Bay of Fundy. Located 35 km southwest of Moncton, Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park provides a unique setting among natural rock formations and the world’s highest tides. At night, the stars shine so bright they illuminate the surrounding cliffs and giant pillars.

 

 9. Big White Mountain Ecological Reserve

Nearby city: Kelowna, BC

Dark night sky over Big White Mountain Ecological Reserve with thousands of stars with pine trees on the horizon.

Image courtesy: Gordon Peachy

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, and experience wheelchair-accessible stargazing near Kelowna.

 

 8. Point Pelee National Park

Nearby city: Leamington, ON

Three researchers looking up at the stars with telescopes from the waterfront at Pelee Point National Park at dusk.

Image courtesy of © Parks Canada / Scott Munn

When you arrive in Leamington, you’ll swear you’ve stepped into a beach paradise, even without an ocean shore. The lush, southernmost tip of Ontario dips into Lake Erie, and it’s surrounded by deep teal-blue water. Take a telescope and look out to the heavens or watch the water glow with the reflection of thousands of stars.

 

 7. Grasslands National Park

Nearby city: Val Marie, SK

Tipis under a starry sky with a touch of red light at the horizon in Grasslands National Park.

Image courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan/Robert Postma

Grasslands National Park sits far from the bright lights of Regina, but close enough for day trips 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. The nearest village, Val Marie, offers a serene retreat in the rugged landscape.

 

 6. Garibaldi Provincial Park

Nearby city: Whistler, BC

Traveller standing with arms stretched out under the stars and moon at Garibaldi Provincial Park, surrounded by snow and a tent, with mountain ranges in the distance.

Image courtesy of Leigh McClurg

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.

 

 5. Whiteshell Provincial Park

Nearby city: Winnipeg, MB

Looking out over the end of a wooden dock at Whiteshell Provincial Park. The water is perfectly smooth and the sky is sprinkled with stars.

Image courtesy of Doug Dance

Drive 130 km east from Winnipeg and you’ll find Whiteshell Provincial Park. This popular patch of land is known for its rainbow-hued sunsets, but don’t hurry back to the city before dark. Swirls of the Milky Way are especially visible over this region.

 

4. Mont-Mégantic International Dark-Sky Preserve

Nearby city: Sherbrooke, 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.

 

 3. Vermilion Lakes

Nearby city: Banff, AB

 Man in silhouette stands on frozen Vermilion Lake looking up at the Northern Lights and a starry sky with snowy mountains and trees on the horizon.

Image courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Located in Banff National Park, the Vermilion Lakes glisten along the winding Bow River. Sit on a picturesque dock at sunset and stick around to watch the constellations reflect off the surface of the water. Visit in late November, and plan your stay around the Banff Craft Beer Festival. There’s no better pairing than Banff stargazing and beer!

 

2. Jasper National Park Dark-Sky Preserve

Nearby city: Jasper, AB

Young woman in winter wear looks through the lens of a large telescope at Jasper Planetarium. A dark sky with thousands of stars is above her.

Image courtesy of JasperPlanetarium.com

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 hosts events for curious amateur astronomers. Visit in October and join the celestial celebrations at the annual Dark Sky Festival.

 

1. Wood Buffalo National Park

Nearby city: Fitzgerald, NT

A white seaplane docked on the water at Wood Buffalo National Park under a starry sky and green northern lights.

Image courtesy of Mike Couvrette

This park is huge — the largest national park in Canada — 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 44,807 square kilometres! Observe herds of majestic wood bison in their natural habitat, and keep an eye out for the northern lights shimmering over the planes.

No one can deny Canada stargazing is among the best experiences in the galaxy — no exaggeration necessary! If you’ve been wishing for a gorgeous getaway, we know where you can find some shooting stars. Whether you’re planning an outdoor adventure in your home province, or embarking on a cross-country getaway, the sky’s the limit. Pack your bags and get ready to stay out late at the top stargazing spots in Canada.

Header photo via Flickr/ビッグアップジャパン

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About Author

Kohleun Adamson

Kohleun is a fan of high tea in Scottish villages and low tide on Coronado Beach, and she can’t get enough of rolling vineyard vistas. These days it’s no easy feat to pull her away from the California coast, but she can be wooed with Moroccan cous cous and ancient palace ruins. As a writer, Kohleun has a passion for sharing the intricate details of a journey well traveled, whether it involves crossing continents or exploring close to home.

4 Comments

  1. Amazing picture, thanks! Light pollution is a huge issue in the UK. I live in London, and you can basically forget about stargazing here. Few of my friends even started a petition to urge the Government to do something about it, but guess we just have to accept the fact that we need to travel a bit to enjoy our hobby.. -Jack

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