First Nations stars on the prairies

On the way back from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association conference just over a month ago, we stopped by the town of Val Marie, SK (pop. 136) on the edge of Grasslands National Park.

The lone (and lone) prairie habitat in the Parks Canada system recently doubled its yearly visitors from 5,000 to almost 10,000.

In comparison, 11 km long Point Pelee in Ontario gets 250,000…Banff gets more than 3 million.

How did Grasslands do it? The chief new attractions have been the rare, re-introduced Black-footed ferret and an RASC dark sky preserve designation.

With 11,000+ square/km Jasper becoming the largest dark sky preserve on Earth (as of 2011) Grasslands is still comfortably the second largest in area (about 1,000 sq km) and the one with the best views in Canada down to the horizon.

We stayed in authentic tipis at The Crossing – on the edge of the park and close to one of its prime stargazing sites. For more, check out my dark sky column on Grasslands in the November 100th issue of Sky News magazine

Resources (Web links from Sky News magazine column)

Grasslands maps

Grasslands stargazing locations (you’ll also find the dates for current star parties here)

Prairie Wind & Silver Sage: Friends of Grasslands National Park

Grasslands/Val Marie accommodations and camping locations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *