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.