Jasper National Park is the perfect location to embrace the night – whether you want to sleep under a blanket of stars, stare into the mesmerizing milky way or watch the awe-inspiring aurora.
In 2011, Jasper was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Due to its limited light pollution, Jasper’s sky offers ideal conditions for dark sky viewing. Every October, Jasper celebrates and preserves this status with the annual Dark Sky Festival, but that’s not the only time you can appreciate the beauty of the park’s night sky!
Whether it’s the middle of winter or the beginning of spring, Jasper is the ideal place to immerse yourself in dreamy mountain nightscapes and gaze out into the universe.
According to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a dark sky preserve as an area in which no artificial lighting is visible, and active measures are in place to educate and promote the reduction of light pollution to the public and nearby municipalities. Sky glow from beyond the borders of the preserve will be of comparable intensity, or less, to that of natural sky glow.
Jasper National Park is one of 17 designated Dark Sky Preserves in Canada. We are the second largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, and we are the largest accessible Dark Sky Preserve - meaning there’s a town within the limits of the preserve.
At 11,000 square kilometers, the opportunities for stargazing are endless. Want to narrow down your options? Here’s a list we compiled of Jasper’s top 10 stargazing spots to get you started!
Logan Parratt - @l.parratt
As a year-round destination for star seekers, Jasper’s businesses offer some exceptional dark sky themed experiences to get visitors pumped about stars, planets and the universe!
The Jasper Planetarium has been feeding the curious minds of Rocky Mountain star gazers with special events, digital planetarium tours, and guided telescope viewing opportunities (with the largest, most powerful telescope in the Rockies!)
The planetarium’s experienced astronomy guides will personally take you on the Rockies’ only 100% sit-down tour for a world-exclusive look at the heavens over the lakes, canyons, glaciers and mountaintops of Jasper Dark Sky Preserve.
Blast off with astronomy experts from the Jasper Planetarium for an exclusive dining and stargazing experience atop the Jasper Skytram with Skytram Star Sessions. 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.
Offering dark sky photo tours from fall through spring, Jasper Photo Guide (led by Jasper photographer, Jeff Lewis) will take visitors on 2-4-hour trips to different locations within the park, depending on the night.
For those looking to spend some more time capturing Jasper’s spectacular beauty, Jasper Photo Guide also offers 3-day intensive photography workshops that often include dark sky shooting and editing.
Need some pointers before you head out to take photos in the park? Read Jeff’s photo tips blog here.
Visit Maligne Canyon at night for a different, mesmerizing journey with Maligne Adventures or Sundog Tours. Under a full moon, the canyon is like a cast diamond, glowing and twinkling before you. Strap on a headlamp, and look up at the stars. Behind a curtain of ice your guide will hold up a spotlight illuminating 30 metre ice pillars in a natural light display. The sweeping ice formations shimmer blue and green—the colours of one of the finest winter walks in the Canadian Rockies.
Stay on the lookout for stars – and beer! Stop by the pub before or after your stargazing session for a refreshing craft beverage brewed straight from Jasper’s glacial waters. If you happen to be in Jasper during dark sky month in October, Jasper Brewing Company produces specialty dark sky beers (like the previously offered Dark Sky Dark Rye Lager) and offers brewery tours for those looking to learn all about the beer-making process.
Jamie Walter @jwalter1337