In the Canadian Rockies’ mountain towns of Banff and Lake Louise, you don’t have to wander too far off the beaten path to find a sense of wilderness and isolation. The mountain skies and landscapes here are ever-changing, with mountain peaks that dance with the light, clouds that take on a life of their own, and distinct seasons that bring their own unique lens to these vistas.
Come nightfall, another world emerges as the skies come alive with natural wonders. With little to no light pollution, the milky way can be seen as plain as day, like a paintbrush across the sky. Mountain range silhouettes seem to encircle a bowl filled to the brim with an abundant blanket of stars and planets, meteors and constellations. And at times, you’ll even be lucky to see one of Canada’s most beautiful night displays – the Northern Lights.
Night sky gazing is a wonderful way to take pause, embrace the moment, and revitalize the spirit. It’s an easy escape to get far away from the distractions of everyday life, to embrace nature’s energy, and to appreciate the simultaneous grandeur and simplicity of our world.
Here are five easily accessible locations in Banff National Park that are perfect to curl up for an evening of stargazing.
1. Vermilion Lakes
Vermilion Lakes are located just outside the Banff townsite. Despite their proximity, a journey down to the end of Vermilion Lakes road will still have you feeling far away. Take your pick of three lakes, each with a unique perspective on Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain. Chances are you’ll have a dock all to yourself.
2. Cascade Meadows
Mountain meadows are perfect for taking in the massive expanse of the night sky all at once. Located along the Lake Minnewanka loop, Cascade Meadows offers breathtaking views of the night sky, perfect for getting lost in the universe. With few mountains blocking the view to the north, it’s also the perfect stage for a Northern Lights performance.
3. Two Jack Lake
Two Jack Lake serves up the best seats for views of the Rundle range, spanning the distance between Banff and Canmore. Although you will get a bit of night glow from these two neighbouring towns, it blends in seamlessly with the night sky. The starlight still shines through for a magical night display.
4. Lake Minnewanka
Just a fifteen-minute drive or taxi ride from the town of Banff, Lake Minnewanka is the second longest lake in the Canadian Rockies. Its vast expanse makes it perfect for stargazing, and it’s a prime viewing location to see the Northern Lights when they come out and dance.
5. Castle Mountain Junction
Halfway between the town of Banff and village of Lake Louise, you’ll find the iconic landmark, Castle Mountain. This is also where the Trans-Canada Highway meets Highway 93s, bringing you to neighbouring Kootenay National Park. The unique summit features are a whimsical contrast to the night sky above.
What to Bring
It gets chilly in the mountains, especially during the winter nights. For the perfect night of stargazing in Banff, there are a few essentials to pack along.
Packing a couple of camping chairs in your trunk is key for an enjoyable stargazing experience.
Down jackets, warm socks, gloves, and blankets will help stave off the chill as you settle into your stargazing nook.
You may want to stay awhile on this night sky outing. Pack along a thermos of hot chocolate to keep things cozy.
While the flashlight on your phone will do just fine to find your way, it’s best to keep these distractions in your vehicle for the best experience.
Ready for your next winter escape to Banff and Lake Louise? Book your winter ski vacation, by calling 1-844-754-2443 to speak with a reservation specialist. Or, go online to access to some exceptional Ski & Stay Package deals.