The bottom of the frame shows the silhouette of evergreen trees at night, and above them is a dark sky filled with stars

Reach for the Stars: Where to Go Stargazing in BC

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Wells Gray Provincial Park | Nic Collar

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

Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver | @alex_georgiades

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.

A small rocky islet sits just offshore. The last light from sunset is slightly visible on the horizon and there are a million stars in a clear blue sky. The Milky Way is visible.

Cattle Point in Victoria | @mikejmunroe

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

Ocean Village in Tofino | @bennnnnnnngie

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.


From Your Tent

A steep waterfall plummets over a horseshoe-shaped cliff. There is thick forest all around and the incredibly clear night sky reveals a million stars and the Milky Way.

Helmcken Falls, Wells Grey Provincial Park | @david_crombie

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.

Originally published in December, 2018.

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