Starry-eyed surprise: The best dark sky preserves for stargazing (PHOTOS)

Mar 22 2022, 9:59 pm

Do you ever look up at the smoggy city sky at night and think about how much you miss the stars? A clear night sky near any downtown core is hard to come by, and if you really want a good look at the cosmos, you’ll have to adventure to one of Canada’s dark sky preserves. 

These spectacular sites guarantee you’ll be able to see stars, planets, and other celestial bodies you wouldn’t be able to spot from the city — weather permitting.

Light pollution map Canada

Light Pollution Map/Website

There are 26 dark sky preserves in Canada according to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, but there are only two in BC: Cattle Point and McDonald Park.

Ontario has the most, with eight preserves, and Alberta has six, followed by New Brunswick with four.

Bring a friend, and if you’re lucky, and you’ll both leave with a twinkle in your eye. 

Cattle Point, BC

@Zanderfro/Reddit

If you’re looking to connect with the night sky in BC, Victoria’s Cattle Point is the place to be. This scenic lookout only gets more gorgeous after the sun comes down and the stars pop out to say hello.

FVAS McDonald Dark Sky Park, BC

Abbotsford stargazing dark sky preserves Canada

Road Trippers/Website

This park only stays open to the public after dark when there’s an important astronomical event going on, so plan your trip wisely to avoid getting locked in after sundown. It’s a fantastic place to see the sky if you live in Vancouver and miss the view.

Jasper National Park, AB

Jasper stargazing dark sky preserves Canada

Alicia Beisel/Shutterstock

The Northern Lights can be seen here depending on when you go, but if you catch it, you’ll never forget how they dance around the snow-capped peaks. Jasper is full of astounding natural beauty, and this park is no exception.

Mont-MĂ©gantic International Dark Sky Reserve, QC

Megantic stargazing dark sky preserves Canada

Megantic Dark Sky/Website

Their mission is to create an environment free from light pollution, and they’ve done just that at Mont-MĂ©gantic International Dark Sky Reserve. In 2007, it became the first International  Dark Sky reserve certified by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Bruce Peninsula National Park, ON

Bruce Peninsula National Park stargazing dark sky preserves Canada

Facto Photo/Shutterstock

Located near the Georgian Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park has it all: sand, sea, forest, and tons of wildlife. Black bears, rare reptiles, and ancient cedar trees can be found on the cliffs by the ocean, along with flora like orchids and ferns.

Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve, ON

Torrence skywatching dark sky preserves Canada

Ontario Travellers/Website

Thanks to the people who run this park, the animals, plants, and star-watching are all intact at Torrance Barrens despite human encroachment on the area. Keep an eye out for the Andromeda Galaxy and the Northern Lights for memories you’ll keep forever.

Wood Buffalo National Park, AB

Buffalo Park stargazing dark sky preserves Canada

Travel Alberta/Website

Last but definitely not least, the world’s largest dark sky preserve: Wood Buffalo National Park. The Dark Sky Festival happens there every August, when “the Milky Way spills across the sky like a starry river.”

Its website says if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to catch the Northern Lights during your next stargazing getaway.

Before you head out, dress warmly, bring your own telescope (or binoculars), and get some gear. It’s also best to only use red light when you’re there to protect your vision and ensure you can see as clearly as possible.

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