It’s normal to feel small in a big city. Skyscrapers, all-hours excitement, and endless noise are par for the course when you’re in a major metropolis. But there’s a difference between feeling small and realizing just how big the world is. To truly get a sense of scale, you need to look to the stars. Sometimes, that’s easier said than done. Because in a city, you often can’t see them.
Luckily, the All-New Volvo V60’s expansive panoramic moon roof comes standard, which means seeing the stars is as easy as driving away from the light pollution, pulling over, and looking up. But for the best experience, you’ll want to drive just a little bit farther to the nearest dark-sky preserve. There, you’ll get an unfiltered look at the sky as it was meant to be seen. Unburdened by streetlights and buildings, you’ll be swept away by the vastness of a black sky sprinkled with bright stars.
Here are a few of our favourite places to stargaze in Canada.
Jasper National Park’s Dark Sky Preserve
At a whopping 11,000 square kilometres, Jasper, Alberta’s Dark Sky Preserve is one of the biggest in the world. And while it’s technically just empty space, Jasper makes the absolute most of it; with campgrounds a short walk away, programs year round and even a month-long Dark Sky Festival every October, Jasper’s Dark Sky Preserve will leave you absolutely speechless.
Grasslands National Park
When we think of Saskatchewan, we think of the prairie flatlands and horizons that stretch as far as the eye can see. Grasslands National Park, located outside of Val Marie, a town so small its population tops out at around 160 in the summertime, takes that principle to the skies. Billed as the darkest sky in Canada, the park’s West and East Blocks give Canadians an unrivalled spot to stargaze.
This Quebec park has been one of the premier places to spot the stars dating back long before it was established as a Dark Sky Preserve back in 2007. Not only does it house the second largest telescope in Canada (found on the highest drivable point of Eastern Canada), but as an International Dark Sky Reserve, it’s also made key contributions towards preventing light pollution and waste.
Fundy National Park
You’re likely aware that the Bay of Fundy is home to the highest tides on the planet, but did you know it’s also home to Nova Scotian stargazers? Designated a Dark Sky Preserve by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Fundy National Park is the ideal setting to see the constellations, and if you’re a night-sky devotee, you can sign up for Milky Way Madness, which uses a giant tracking telescope to help you see beyond the stars.
Lion’s Head, Bruce Peninsula
A stone’s throw from Tobermory’s beautiful beaches, Lion’s Head’s dark sky preservation might be even clearer than the Bruce Peninsula’s famously blue water. During the day, these skies are filled with thousands of migrating birds, but by night the many limestone cliffs are blanketed by some of the darkest skies in Ontario. It’s perfect for a one-night trip, but camping under the constellations will also blow your mind every time you look up.
Wood Buffalo National Park
The northernmost spot on this list, the Wood Buffalo Dark Sky Preserve in Alberta, just a hop south of the Northwest Territories, is worth the extra mileage. Aside from the overwhelming size of the preserve, it’s one of the only ones in Canada that regularly features cameos from the Northern Lights.
McDonald “Dark Sky” Park Preserve
Nearby Sumas Mountain makes sure that light pollution from neighbouring towns stays out of this B.C. park. One of the more exclusive preserves on this list, McDonald Park is taken over by the Fraser Valley Astronomer’s Society, which opens it up to stargazers for special events throughout the year.