June 21, 2024
Big Shot
Living in the World’s Biggest Dark-Sky Preserve


By Jeff Bartlett

I live in Jasper National Park in Alberta — the only dark-sky park preserve in Canada that contains a town.

The jobs are seasonal, rent is high, and services are limited. But my boss understands that I’ll work less on powder days.

The best part: after a long weekend, when visitors have to rush back to the city, I get to stay home in paradise.

In 2011, Jasper National Park was named a “dark sky preserve” — one meant to be kept free of artificial light, the better to promote astronomy and enjoyment of the heavens. The glow comes from the park’s only town, Jasper, population 4,051.

In October 2011, clear skies welcomed the first annual Dark Sky Festival, and looming winter. Luckily, winter 2012 hasn’t been too severe.

The Icefields Parkway, connecting Jasper with Banff National Park three hours to the south, has been rated one of the world’s top 10 scenic drives.

The iconic Pyramid Mountain is always in view. Walk out of any hotel or house, and look up: there it is again.

The golf resort Jasper Park Lodge is practically a town in its own right.

Nighttime by the Athabasca River, at the foot of a glacier. The Athabasca flows 765 miles, through gorges, over rapids and past many towns.

A mountain named after the British nurse and war hero Edith Cavell, who is celebrated for saving lives of soldiers on all sides during WW1. Executed for treason by a German firing squad, she is widely memorialized in Canada.

Jasper National Park’s next Dark Sky Festival will be on Oct. 12-14, 2012.

Adventure photographer Jeff Bartlett is based in Jasper, Canada.

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