The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has designated six official Dark Sky Sites in Alberta. Dark Sky Sites are areas in which no artificial light is visible. Light pollution in these areas is actively managed which reduces the artificial sky glow that comes from municipalities close by. Less artificial light allows for more spectacular views of the night sky.
The vast number of stars and planets that are visible from a Dark Sky Site is amazing. Of the six designated sites in Alberta, five of them are perfect for setting up camp and spending the night looking to the sky:
Beaver Hills at Elk Island National Park
Set up your RV at Elk Island National Park’s campground and then head down to Lake Astotin after dark to get a beautiful view of the cosmos. If you’re new to stargazing you might want to join the park interpreters for a guided tour of the night sky Fridays and Saturdays from mid-September until the end of October. The cost is $11.80 per person plus a valid park pass.
Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is home to a number of campgrounds perfect for setting up camp for a stargazing trip. If your RV is ready for some cold weather, consider visiting during October during their annual Jasper Dark Sky Festival.
If you visit during the summer, you will just have to stay awake a little later to catch a glimpse of the night sky. Pocahontas, Wilcox, and Icefield campgrounds are great spots to get the most out of the night sky.
Lakeland Provincial Park
There are four basic campgrounds in Lakeland Provincial Recreational Area, which is located adjacent to the provincial park. Five designated observing sites are located within the park and they can all be accessed by car. Lakeland Provincial Park is also an incredible place to view the northern lights.
Wood Buffalo National Park
Wood Buffalo National Park, which straddles the border between Alberta and the Northwest Territories, is the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve. Enjoy the wonders of the Milky Way and the northern lights from your campsite. Visit in August to catch the annual Dark Sky Festival. RV camping is available from May to September.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Cypress Hills was the first site in Alberta to be designated as a Dark Sky Preserve and is home to one of the largest stargazing events in the country. On the Saskatchewan side of the park, there is a dome observatory with three specialized telescopes as well as an outdoor telescope platform.
There are many beautiful campgrounds on both the Alberta and Saskatchewan sides of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. The higher elevation of the area makes it a perfect place for stargazing.
Adding stargazing to your RV trips is a great way to enhance any camping trip. Enjoy some time staring at the cosmos and learning more about the stars, planets, and constellations.