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Reach for the Stars: Where to Go Stargazing in BC

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Northern Lights in the Northern Rockies | Ryan Dickie

The night sky has always been a source of wonder and mystery for humankind. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, or when we’ve lost our way—literally or metaphorically—we look to the stars for order and serenity. To feel connected to the universe.

BC’s wide open spaces are filled with amazing locales to get away from the light pollution of the city and see stars numbering in the millions. Here are some great options to get you started.

Note: This story (originally published in 2018) was updated specifically for the unique travel circumstances of 2021. Information is accurate at the time of publication; we recommend you contact businesses directly to confirm availability and familiarize yourself with their COVID policies.

Near the City

Cattle Point in Victoria

Cattle Point, Victoria | @mikejmunroe

You don’t necessarily have to travel far from the city for an astounding nighttime view. Victoria, on Vancouver Island, is home to the Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park, part of a worldwide dark-sky movement that encourages urban areas to adopt regulations aimed at reducing light pollution. On a clear night, you can see the Milky Way.

On the mainland, about an hour east of Vancouver, the McDonald Park Dark Sky Preserve was established by the Fraser Valley Astronomers Society (FVAS). Situated between the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack, the park is largely protected from light pollution by the Sumas Mountains, and the FVAS hosts periodic public viewing sessions after dark.

Up a Mountain

Inland, some of the best views are found by heading skyward. East of Vancouver, Manning Park‘s Cascade Lookout is one of several locations in the park that offer excellent stargazing opportunities. Watch Manning’s events listings to find Dark Sky events such as a guided snowshoe fondue.

The Canadian Rockies are another great place to seek out stellar viewpoints. From the rugged peaks of BC’s southeast corner to the remote wilderness of the Northern Rockies, there are more stars visible to the naked eye than you can count, and the farther north you go the greater your chances of seeing the Northern Lights.

Along the Coast

Watching the starts twinkling brightly above the ocean can feel magical, with the vastness of the Pacific dwarfed by the vastness of the cosmos. On the west coast of Vancouver Island, the rocky shoreline and sandy beaches receive minimal light from nearby communities, and they face the open ocean. Bring a flashlight, and prepare to be dazzled.

In a Bathing Suit

Halcyon Hot Springs, Upper Arrow Lake | @adrianwagnerstudio

To experience inner peace at its most peaceful, how about floating on your back in a natural hot springs with a gazillion stars overhead. Make a week of it along BC’s Hot Springs Circle Route.

Ommmmm.

From Your Tent

Another great way to get your zen on is by camping under a blanket of stars, and BC boasts a staggering number of places to pitch your tent. Many of those campsites are a short hike from lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and more, so don’t forget to pack your camera.

Helmcken Falls in Wells Grey Provincial Park

Helmcken Falls, Wells Grey Provincial Park | @david_crombie

 

Featured image: Destination BC/Ryan Dickie

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