Astronomy and Road Trips – 5 Parks Canada Destinations To See the Stars This Winter
Stargazing is not just a warm weather activity. If you love the idea of checking out a spectacular super moon and shooting stars in a clear night sky while on a winter road trip you are in luck.
Canada is home to some truly unbelievable Parks Canada destinations complete with Dark Sky Preserves that make these locations ideal for astronomy lovers. Be sure to plan accordingly with warm outerwear, boots, cozy blankets, and a big thermos with steaming hot drinks. For optimal viewing don’t forget to bring your binoculars or even a small telescope.
Jasper National Park – Alberta
Jasper National Park is the largest National Park in the Canadian Rockies and located in Alberta. Jasper is home to the Dark Sky Preserve program that makes a special commitment to preserve the night sky by reducing light pollution such as replacing old streetlights. The best locations to see the stars in Jasper are at Pyramid Island, Maligne Lake, Old Fort Point, and near the Athabasca Glacier. Jasper National Park is 370 km west of Edmonton and is the second largest dark sky in the world at 11,000 km. When driving, take the Trans-Canada Highway #16 as it’s the main route towards Jasper and runs right through the park.
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Point Pelee National Park – Ontario
Point Pelee National Park is also a dedicated Dark Sky Preserve and this destination has some great stargazing spots. Located in Leamington Ontario, you can drive along Highway 401 and exit # 48, look for the Point Pelee sign and follow the directions from there.
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Wood Buffalo National Park – Alberta / Northwest Territories
This huge park actually spans the Alberta border and the Northwest Territories. There is an all weather road along the Mackenzie Highway so you can drive to Fort Smith where the park’s headquarters are located. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is Canada’s biggest park and second largest protected area in the world. Not only that, Wood Buffalo is the first Dark Sky Preserve in Canada’s north and the world’s largest dark sky preserve. So dress warmly and don’t forget your camera, as you may just capture images of the Aurora Borealis lighting up the dark night sky for a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site – Nova Scotia
Another Dark Sky Preserve is located in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site in Nova Scotia, and is known as one of the top locations in the province for stargazing. There are meteor showers, the lunar eclipse, and excellent constellation viewing opportunities. In fact, Kejimkujik even has dark sky kits to rent for only $5 dollars a day. Be sure to check out the Sky Circle that provides a telescope and binoculars and you may even learn how the stars have inspired songs and legends from past centuries. If you are driving from Halifax it’s just over two hours. Drive south along Highway 103 and take Exit 13. The park is another 66 km further and you can follow the signs to Kejimkujik
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Waterton Lakes National Park – Alberta
Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta shares a boundary with Glacier National Park in Montana, USA. Both parks are seeking a Dark Sky Preserve designation. They want to reduce the amount of light that goes upwards to the sky at night, making it an even better stargazing destination. In the meantime, astronomy lovers will be thrilled at the view of the moon, constellations, and the Milky Way. Waterton is a great destination to look for the Big Dipper, ensuring your winter road trip is memorable. Waterton Lakes National Park is located about three hours drive from Calgary, in southwest Alberta.
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