COVID-19 still presents a very real and dangerous threat to public health. While much of Alberta’s outdoors have been reopened to visitors, it is recommended to plan ahead, check local restrictions and current public health measures, and avoid any areas that may be too crowded.
Since 2011, Jasper National Park has been designated as a Dark Sky Preserve, ensuring that the night sky as seen from the area is nothing but shining stars, a glowing moon, and clear constellations.
Every October, the Town of Jasper hosts the annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival to celebrate their designation, and to come together in appreciating the stunning night sky.
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Even after October is over, the nighttime views from the preserve are nothing short of remarkable, attracting visitors the world over to get a glimpse at their northern sights (and lights!).
For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available from Albertaparks.ca and AdventureSmart. Parks Canada visitor guidelines are available here. Always remember to leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, stick to designated trails, and refrain from feeding wildlife — and please note that irresponsibly taken selfies (even if they look great for the ‘gram) can be fatal.
Where is it?
The Jasper Dark Sky Preserve covers basically the same area as Jasper National Park, which covers a 13,000 sq km area of the Rocky Mountains.
It is north of Banff National Park, and west of Edmonton.
How do you get there?
The best way to get to the Jasper Dark Sky Preserve is to head to the town of Jasper. From Calgary, take Highway 1 west until you reach Lake Louise, then take Highway 93 north until reaching the town of Jasper.
The trip should take just under five hours (but be wary of road conditions, especially during the snowy months).
From Edmonton, you’ll simply need to head west on Highway 16 for about four hours.
Jasper National Park is a large area, and there’s a whole lot of natural beauty to be found… which we cover in other Awesome Alberta articles.
Once at Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve, however, visitors will find an area where residents, governments, and tourists (yes, that will include you) make a conscious effort to “reduce or eliminate light pollution in all forms,” according to Parks Canada.
What’s left is a night sky untouched by the usual human-made light so that the stars, auroras, and other celestial objects are able to shine on unimpeded.
Basically, what you’ll find is an unforgettable sight, and a priceless photo opportunity.
Just make sure you don’t accidentally have the flash on, please and thank you.