Best time to travel to Banff & Jasper National Parks

Northern Lights in Banff & Jasper National Parks

National parks are an ideal place to view aurora borealis

Best time: September–April

Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Alberta is one of the best provinces of Canada to observe the northern lights. But if you get lucky enough to see the natural phenomenon in Banff National Park, it will be a truly magical experience. Impressive mountain ranges, perfectly still reflective lakes, and fresh snow is a beautiful setting for the nature's show.

When to see northern lights in Banff and Jasper

Unfortunately, it's rather challenging to predict aurora borealis since it's related to the geomagnetic activity. Once outside of the city, the lights can appear at any time from September to April in Alberta. However, they shine their brightest from February to April on the dark, clear nights.

Best places to view northern lights in Banff

It's possible to see the glow above the town of Banff, but it's always better if you move further from city lights. Lake Minnewanka, Castle Junction, and Peyto Lake have proven to be the right spots to see aurora borealis near Banff. Vermilion Lakes, located in the Bow Valley, in just a short drive from Banff, is another good location. The green light that dances in the sky reflects beautifully in the lakes with Mount Rundle and Sulphur Mountain on the backdrop. If aurora borealis caught you off guard and you can't get out of town, then try Banff Avenue, the main street in Banff for a pretty decent view.

Best places to view northern lights in Jasper

Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and is one of 17 designated Canadian Dark Sky Preserves. This park is the second-largest in the world. It is also the largest accessible preserve, meaning there are restaurants and hotels for travelers. At 4,247 sq. mi (11,000 sq. km), stargazing can be a fantastic experience. There is also a good chance to witness magnificent Northern Lights onsite. Old Fort Point, Lake Annette, Pyramid Lake, and Maligne Lake are the most scenic places to enjoy the dancing lights display.

As a bonus, you can become a part of a Jasper Dark Sky Festival which celebrates the night sky in Jasper. The event takes place every October and there you will find a pack of activities to teach travelers astronomy, the wonders of stargazing, and the importance of dark skies. The festival is different every year. It includes a galore of amazing events, and celebrity speakers as well as a chance to view the northern lights.

Practical info

What makes Alberta a great province for northern lights viewing?

Due to its location beneath the auroral oval, Alberta is an excellent province for observing aurora borealis. The province's elevated latitude and the general lack of light pollution make it an ideal spot for viewing the northern lights. Additionally, its proximity to the Rocky Mountains creates a stunning backdrop for the aurora borealis display. Show more

When is the best time to see the northern lights in Banff and Jasper National Parks?

The northern lights are hard to predict because they are dependent on geomagnetic activity. However, the best time to observe aurora borealis in Banff and Jasper National Parks is between September and April. They are most visible between February and April, on dark and clear nights. It's recommended to check the weather and the aurora borealis forecast before planning a viewing trip. Show more

What are some of the top locations to observe the northern lights in Banff National Park?

The best places to see aurora borealis in Banff National Park are Lake Minnewanka, Peyto Lake, Castle Junction, and Vermillion Lakes. These spots are far from the city lights and offer better views. If you're unable to leave the town, Banff Avenue, the primary street in Banff, can also provide decent views of the northern lights. Show more

Why is Jasper National Park a prime location for stargazing?

Jasper National Park is home to the largest accessible dark sky preserve globally, making it an ideal location for stargazing. The park has seventeen marked Canadian Dark Sky Preserves and designated Dark Sky Communities. The limited light pollution enables ideal conditions for viewing celestial objects. Additionally, Jasper National Park is one of the largest national parks in the Canadian Rockies, providing unobstructed views of the sky. Show more

What is the Jasper Dark Sky Festival and when does it occur?

The Jasper Dark Sky Festival is an annual celebration of the pristine skies over Jasper. Happening in October every year, the festival aims to inform visitors about astronomy, stargazing, and the importance of dark skies. The event provides spectators the opportunity to observe the northern lights along with a wide array of activities and guided tours. The festival also features celebrities sharing their experience and knowledge of astronomy and space. For sky enthusiasts, it's an excellent chance to study, explore and celebrate nature's marvels. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin