Dark Skies East of Edmonton

Spending your evenings under the stars can be a truly rewarding pastime. The night sky has a way of stretching the limits of our creativity, it can ignite our imagination.
There are many areas east of Edmonton where the skies are dark and the stars are bright. Some are very public and offer a great deal of safety for those uncomfortable venturing too far into the dark and others are more remote and require a bit of adventure to get to. Here are four great locations for viewing the night sky east of Edmonton.

Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve

Located within an hour east and southeast of Edmonton, the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve actually encompasses a number of well-known parks: Elk Island National Park, Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area and Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. This was the first area given dark sky preserve status in Alberta but unfortunately, the increasing light pollution from the city has made each of these sites far brighter in recent years and none are darker than a bright Bortle 4, bordering on Bortle 5, on the light pollution map. Still, these areas are wonderful locations to visit for people who have only known bright city nights and who don’t wish to venture far from home.


Bortle Scale
Before venturing out we highly recommend you familiarize yourself with the Bortle scale of light pollution to see just how dark the skies are in each of the locations you may be travelling to.
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The Fabyan/Battle River Trestle Bridge

Located just 15km northwest of Wainwright, the Fabyan/Battle River Trestle Bridge was built in 1908 and for a short time was the longest steel trestle in Canada. Trains still pass over this bridge daily and day or night, it’s a wonderful location to visit. The trestle is located in a dark Bortle 4 area, bordering on Bortle 3 and would make an excellent location to view a very strong aurora show that’s visible in the north west as well as a great spot to view the annual Perseids meteor shows each August. Capturing a train in your photos would just be icing on the cake!
Photo Credit: Shane Turgeon

Highways 14 to 45

Central Alberta has some of the worst light pollution in western North America and finding truly dark Bortle 1 or 2 skies requires significant travel away from the more densely populated areas. Thankfully there are some wonderfully dark Bortle 2/3 locations east of Edmonton between the Highway 14 and 45 corridors. The sparsely populated rural back roads between Kinsella on Highway 14 and Myrnam to the north on Highway 45 offer some of the darkest skies within a two hour drive of Edmonton for those willing to make the trip or for those lucky enough to live nearby.


If you are venturing to these areas to enjoy the night sky, don’t be surprised if you raise the suspicions of the folks who live in the area. Rural residents are wary of any vehicles cruising around at night. If you’re approached by folks who live nearby or the RCMP, be friendly, courteous and even offer to help share some tips about the night sky if the conversation allows. Always respect private property and don’t trespass.

Lakeland Dark Sky Preserve

Located east of Lac La Biche in Lakeland Provincial Park and Recreational Area is Alberta’s newest dark sky preserve. Created in 2018, this area features truly dark Bortle 2 skies and is an ideal place to view the northern lights in the fall and winter. The Lakeland area is an adventurer’s paradise and features great camping, canoeing and more rustic accommodations such as cabins, cottages, guest ranches, and tipis.

Bon Accord: Alberta's Dark Sky Community

Just a short drive north of Edmonton is the Town of Bon Accord, the first Canadian community to receive the International Dark Sky Community status and only the eleventh Dark Sky Community in the world.

Two locations for stargazing with a telescope include 54 Ave. and 53 Ave. West of Lilian Schick School and west of the Bon Accord Arena parking lot near the south entrance.

Hesje Observatory

Located at the Augustana Miquelon Lake Research Station at the dark sky preserve in Miquelon Provincial Park.

The Hesje Observatory offers in-person astronomy programs and a great location to view the night sky.

Viewing Etiquette

If you’re venturing to an area where other people will also be stargazing it’s important to exercise proper viewing etiquette. This includes turning off the headlights of your vehicle if observing from your car, using the red setting on your headlamp when walking amongst others, and being quiet. Additionally, it's important to practice Leave No Trace principles when spending any time outdoors.

Night Sky Adventures

Be inspired by these Dark Sky articles from local photographer and author Shane Turgeon.

About the Author:

Shane Turgeon can distinctly remember the moment when certain constellations revealed themselves to him for the first time. On a cold dark, while still in elementary school, his homework was to identify the key constellations in the winter sky. Even in town, the stars seemed to shine brighter back then and slowly but surely, the key stars of Orion the Hunter came into focus and to this day it remains his favourite constellation in the sky.
Photo Credit: Shane Turgeon
Photo Credit: Shane Turgeon


A sample of regional attractions to add to your night sky adventure.

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