You’ll be seeing a lot of stars after dark when you come to Jasper. The world’s second-largest dark-sky preserve ranked third on a travel website’s list of best Canadian stargazing destinations. | Tourism Jasper photoScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 11, 2022 at 12:00

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Jasper has ranked as third on a list of the best stargazing destinations in Canada, according to a travel website’s Instagram-based research.

Next Vacay placed Banff National Park at number one, while British Columbia’s Glacier National Park came in second. Jasper, it said, is known for its big blue skies and endless views.

“When the sun goes down, a whole new adventure begins at Jasper National Park,” it reported, according to its study that was emailed to the Fitzhugh

“Pyramid Lake is the best-known stargazing spot within a short drive of the town of Jasper, while Mount Edith Cavell is a prime spot edged closer to the stars.”

It added that the best time to stargaze in Jasper National Park is on crisp, clear winter nights or during a new moon. Next Vacay counted 556,371 stargazing shots on the social media site that were posted using #jaspernationalpark. 

“It’s easy to see why stargazing is increasingly becoming one of the more popular activities in this tourist hotspot,” the report added.

Jasper’s count still comes in at less than half of the Instagram photos for #banffnationalpark at 1,183,143.

Next Vacay looked at all of Canada’s national parks to find the best places to stargaze by searching Instagram hashtags while taking into consideration air pollution levels, star visibility and other parameters when making their list.

Four out of the top 10 stargazing spots were in Alberta, three of which were in the mountains including Waterton Lakes National Park. The only spot elsewhere in the province was Elk Island National Park, another dark-sky preserve just as Jasper National Park is.

A dark-sky preserve is a protected area that commits extra measures to protect and preserve the darkness by reducing or eliminating light pollution in all forms. Parks Canada stated that it protects more dark skies than any other agency or jurisdiction in the world. 

According to Parks Canada’s website, dark-sky viewing tips include checking the weather before heading out, taking along a star chart (or downloading a stargazing app to your device) and bringing a pair of binoculars or telescope. 

Some celestial sights can be seen by the naked eye, such as the Perseid Meteor Shower this week. It is anticipated that the peak viewing will be on the very late night of Friday, Aug. 12 to the very early morning on Saturday, Aug. 13, according to Tourism Jasper’s website found at jasperdarksky.travel. The full moon also occurs on that night so it is “recommended that you set an alarm just before the moon sets around 4 a.m.,” the site says.

Stargazing tourism has seen a boom in recent years, says Naveen Dittakavi, co-founder of Next Vacay along with his wife Shaylee.

“People have been amazed by the stars since the beginning of humankind, so it’s no surprise that we have seen demand for stargazing soar in the past year,” he said.

“A whole new world opens up at night, and there’s something magical about these celestial beings that bring a sense of calm, and help you put life into perspective.”

According to Scouts Canada, Jasper National Park has it all for camping: great scenery, proximity to water, multiple activity options available, abundant wildlife, absolute quiet and, of course, washrooms. | Supplied photoScott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 05, 2022 at 06:00

Scouts Canada declares Jasper as Canada’s ‘most epic’ camping destination

By Scott Hayes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

If you’re looking for the country’s best camping, Scouts Canada says you don’t have to look far.

A survey of more than 46,000 of its Scouts volunteers, Scouting youths and their parents resulted in 39.5 per cent of them voting Jasper National Park as the ‘most epic’ camp destination in Canada.

“We are all in need of a solid summer getaway this year, why not try something different like camping with front-row seats to panoramic view?” said Mike Eybel, a volunteer Scouter of seven years, in a prepared press release from Scouts Canada.

“With camping emerging as an adventurous and affordable option for many Canadians, we wanted to make sure that every Canadian knows where the most epic campsites in the country are, and which criteria they should consider when searching for a spot.” 

The second spot on the list was Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on Vancouver Island with 34.6 per cent of the poll. Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park came in third with 32.9 per cent, followed by Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador with 27.3 per cent and 22.5 per cent for Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. 

Jasper’s top spot status was further enhanced by the fact that it came in at only second on the list of where survey respondents had actually camped. Algonquin Provincial Park was first at 42.9 per cent, while Jasper National Park registered 32.6 per cent. 

The survey was prepared as camping increasingly has become the most viable vacation option for summer 2022, the release indicated. It also explored some of the reasoning behind what people are looking for in order to find the best campsite for any level or type of adventure.

As for what makes a campsite most ideal, the Scouting community responded that getting a view “worthy of a screensaver” was overwhelmingly the most important criteria at nearly 85 per cent.

That was followed by proximity to water at 63.9 per cent, activity options available (such as fishing, paddling, hiking, biking, etc.) at 57.0 per cent, wildlife at 39.3 per cent, absolute quiet at 39.3 per cent and availability of washrooms 26.4 per cent.

Part of the survey was to help promote Scouts Canada’s online tools to get more families and youth groups out into the great outdoors before school starts in September.

“Our seasoned Scouting community has named the most epic places to camp; now Canadians can also challenge themselves to visit as many of them as possible with our interactive map, Camping Dream Destination Guides and the Canadian Camper’s Bucket-List,” Eybel said.

Canadians can view comprehensive information on Canada’s top camping locations, pictures and booking information by visiting Scouts Canada’s website at www.scouts.ca/EpicCampsites.

These items reprinted from the Fitzhugh, Jasper, Alberta