For the World's Best Stargazing, Head to Quebec
In honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary on July 1, we’re bringing you 150 Travelzoo Tips – one per day until July 1 – to help you explore and enjoy this great land. For Tip 103, travel writer Solmaz, The Curious Creature tells us about the world's first International Dark Sky Reserve. Find more from Solmaz on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Photo by Guillaume Poulin.
There aren’t many places left that are free from light pollution, but fortunately for us, Canada is home to one of the darkest parks in the world. Why would anyone want to venture to such a place? For some of the best stargazing on the planet! Nestled deep in the heart of Mont-Mégantic National Park in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, ASTROLab is the world’s first International Dark Sky Reserve. A true hidden gem, it is arguably one of the most awe-inspiring places in Canada -- the kind that stops you in your tracks and sparks deep thought and reflection. At the two observatories, visitors get a chance to admire ancient stars, enchanting planets and even the northern lights if luck strikes (we had a full show during our visit). There are really no words to describe the feeling you’ll get when you stare up at the Milky Way in this majestic park. Here's how to make the most of your trip.
Tip 1: Turn your visit into a weekend getaway
Although the ASTROLab is reason enough to journey to the park, there’s so much to do and see that you won’t want to leave. Thanks to the unique EXP cabins on-site, you won’t have to. An overnight stay in the minimalistic cabins in the woods is a must!
Tip 2: Hike through Mont-Mégantic National Park
With 25 km of multi-purpose trails and 17 km of hiking trails to explore, you’ll want to allow some time to explore the beautiful park during your visit. Breathtaking scenic lookouts await; we really loved our trek up the Sentier des Escarpements (3.8 km and moderately difficult).
Tip 3: Plan ahead
Make sure to reserve your ASTROLab visit in advance so you don’t miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the dark sky reserve. Although they offer daytime tours, you’ll want to sign up for the Astronomy Evenings to experience the real magic. The Popular Observatory at the summit of the mountain is a must as it’s home to one of the world’s most powerful telescopes.