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Reach for the Stars: Where to Go Stargazing in BC

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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.

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.

Along the Coast

Porteau Cove | @VanexusPhoto
Botanical Beach, Vancouver Island | @beckylynnsim

Watching the starts twinkling brightly above the ocean can feel magical, with the vastness of the Pacific dwarfed by the vastness of the cosmos. Porteau Cove Provincial Park, off the Sea-to-Sky Highway, is a popular viewing spot among stargazers. Light from the city of Vancouver, 45 minutes south, is largely blocked out by the Coast Mountains, and there are no other lights nearby. The Porteau Cove pier, which extends into Howe Sound, is the place to be once the sun goes down.

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.

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.

Northern Lights, Alaska Highway | @wildnorthphotos

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

 

At a Party

Mount Kobau, near Osoyoos

Mount Kobau | @douglas_drouin_photography

Serious stargazers can test their resolve at an eight-night star party (yes, really). The long-running Merritt Star Quest attracts amateur astronomers each year, and Mount Kobau, near Osoyoos, hosted its 35th annual Mount Kobau Star Party in August of 2018.

Featured image: Destination BC/Ryan Dickie

POSTED BY: Tiffany Lewis

From: Richmond
Born and raised in British Columbia, Tiffany Lewis is a Destination BC staffer who lives just south of Vancouver near charming Steveston Village. Passionate about all things local, from food to cider to theatre, Tiffany loves spending her weekends exploring the province’s parks and beaches with her beautiful family.

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