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national parks

Welcome to Canada’s Newest Dark Sky Preserve

Northern Lights

The northern lights (Photo: Larry Lamsa)

Say hello to the newest preservation zone in Canada. The recently declared dark sky preservation by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada is located in Wood Buffalo National Park. This dark sky preserve is the largest in Canada and stretches from the Northwest Territories to Alberta covering a magnificent range of 44,807 square kilometres (that’s larger than Switzerland). So, what is a dark sky preserve? In layman terms, it’s a form of natural preservation that restricts light pollution in a select area allowing the beautiful Northern Lights to shine through in all of their glory as well as protecting the surrounding natural habitats. You can check out the full story over at globalnews.ca

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Teepee Camping—Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

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Why We Chose It

Have you ever seen so many stars? Getting away from it all is the name of the game at southern Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park, the quieter little sis to Glacier National Park in the U.S. The colours captured in the night sky over the Rockies is absolutely gorgeous here—patience is key as you wait for that moment right when the sun slips behind the ridge. It’s also genius to mirrors the slopes of the mountains with the peak of the teepee.

Photo: bcarlier

Wildlife Viewing Tips in the Canadian Rockies

By Peter A. Dettling

Although archeologists have determined that First Nations used the Canadian Rockies regularly for 11,000 years, the idea that bears, cougars and other ‘predators’ were vermin to be eliminated was a European notion that arrived with the explorers in the late 1700s. As the non-Native presence in the Rockies grew, over hunting brought these large carnivores to the brink of extinction, and also depleted the ungulate population including elk and moose.

Thanks to the creation of protected areas, re-introduction efforts, hunting restrictions and changing attitudes towards large carnivores, we now find all pre-European settlement species in the Rockies, except free roaming bison. But don’t take a grizzly or wolf sighting for granted. Seeing large animals in their natural habitat is a privilege.

Since you are a visitor in their home, treat animals with respect by giving them space to decide what to do and where to go. When viewing wildlife from your car, pull off of the road, shut off the engine and silently enjoy the sighting. Stay in your vehicle, especially when watching wolves or bears. It will ensure a safe and pleasant experience for both you and the animal you’re observing.

Wildlife sightings in our mountain parks are frequent and widespread occurrences. Elk are common. In fall, visit Vermillion Lakes, Lake Minnewanka Loop or Golf Course Dr near the town of Banff, or Athabasca River flats near Jasper, to see bugling elk. Your best chance to see bears is in early summer north of Lake Louise on Icefields Parkway’s avalanche slopes and in roadside dandelion patches, or beside Jasper’s Maligne Lake Road (Map 5, 5P). Elusive wolves can sometimes be spotted early summer west or south of the Jasper townsite. Kananaskis Country often hosts moose, bears and wolves.

Try walking scenic mountain trails to feel truly connected with your surroundings and yourself. It is especially exhilarating to see animals on slopes and meadows away from the road.

Editor’s Note: Peter Dettling owns Canmore’s Terra Magica gallery and is the author and photographer of The Will of the Land. Visit TerraMagica.ca for details on his award-winning work.

Olde Tyme Adventures

The “Gateway to the Rockies” exhibit at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies provides insights into the origins of tourism that visitors can use to enrich their present day mountain experiences.

By Meredith Bailey

The history of the Canadian Rockies reads like an epic adventure rich with hidden treasure, daring acts of bravery, forward thinking mavericks and passionate conservationists.

While in Banff, visit the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies’ new exhibition Gateway to the Rockies that showcases our region’s starring players and pivotal moments. And don’t forget that Canadian Rockies heritage remains alive and well. Indeed, today’s favourite hikes, historic buildings, interpretive tours and works of art are steeped in tradition. Armed with the knowledge of Then, take the next step and discover what you can do Now! (more…)

Off the Beaten Path: Waterton Lakes National Park

By Alina Seagal

Waterton Lakes National Park (Photo: Alina Seagal)

Next time you want to hit an Alberta national park, think outside Banff or Jasper. Discover Waterton Lakes National Park, a four-hour drive through Kananaskis Country and wide-open prairies south of Calgary. (more…)

How Will Parks Canada Cuts Affect Tourism?

By SHANNON KELLY

Cape Breton Highlands National Park (Photo: killthebird)

In the Canadian Rockies, Jasper National Park is losing an eighth of its staff, in the North 64 jobs will be lost and across the country more than 1,700 employees will be or have been affected, with their jobs either eliminated or hours reduced. Overall, Parks Canada employees on the chopping block account for almost half of the nearly 4,000 jobs being cut by the federal government this year. (more…)

Canada’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Who’s Next for Consideration?

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Atikaki boreal forest, Manitoba-Ontario border (Photo: Briand/Ontario Tourism)

In 2012, Canada is hoping to add these nine unique historical and cultural hot spots to the fifteen sites of  environmental and historical significance already on the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list. (more…)

Book Now for the Best National Parks Campsites this Summer

By WAHEEDA HARRIS

Waterton Lakes' busy Townsite campground (Photo: canoe too)

For those of us who plan to commune with Mother Nature at one of Canada’s National Parks this summer, it’s time to pick a date and make a reservation.

Parks Canada has started accepting summer reservations for popular camping spots across the country through its reservation system. While booking for most parks’ campgrounds opens the first or second week of April, campers can already call dibs on sites at Elk Island and Pacific Rim national parks. (more…)

Jasper’s New Glacier Discovery Walk Sparks Environmental Debate

Artist's rendering of the new Glacier Discovery Walk attraction. (Photo: Brewster Travel)

Soon you’ll be able to get up close and personal with a glacier at Jasper National Park via a floating observation platform on its new Glacier Discovery Walk attraction, set to open in 2013. (more…)

5 Affordable Canadian Vacations for 2012

By CANDICE WALSH

The Yukon is surprisingly affordable—once you get there. Photo by Jonathon Strack.

Planning on hitting the road in 2012? If you’re on a tight budget, you can still swing a pretty sweet vacation—you just need to know where to look to find the best deals.

See our five best budget-friendly vacation picks in Canada » (more…)

Coming Soon to Toronto: Canada’s First Urban National Park

Rouge Valley Park. Photo by Paul Henman.

On Wednesday, the Canadian government started the ball rolling on Canada’s next national park—Rouge Valley, in the Greater Toronto Area. A preliminary “visioning” workshop was attended by park stakeholders: representatives from the Province of Ontario, local municipalities and community groups.

Not mentioned among the workshop attendees was David Suzuki, longtime proponent of a Rouge Valley national park.

The government’s intention to upgrade Rouge Valley Park to national park status was first introduced in June’s Speech from the Throne. Among the details to be hammered out: the park’s boundaries, which could expand well beyond the current 12,000 acres.

Rouge National Park will be Canada’s first urban national park, and will be easily accessible to a fifth of Canada’s population who live in and around Toronto.

Set Your Sites On Stargazing

A meteor shower captured in the Okanagen. Photo by Darren Kirby

While we love s’mores and campfire chats, when camping the real show happens when the fire goes out and we can see all the stars. With all of Canada’s vast open spaces, it’s not hard to get away from the star dimming lights of the city and enjoy some star gazing. The Globe and Mail spoke to Canadian astronomy expert Terence Dickinson, who is also editor of SkyNews magazine, to get his stargazing secrets.

(more…)