Where To Take Insta-Worthy Stargazing Shots
In Ontario, stargazing is incredible throughout the year, including winter. The crisp air, low humidity and early nights of winter make for perfect dark sky viewing conditions. And best of all – no bugs. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has designated eight Ontario destinations as dark sky preserves for their absence of artificial light pollution and great stargazing visibility with a telescope, binoculars or even to the naked eye.
Head to a designated preserve or dark sky site to enjoy nature’s brilliance and get that enchanted shot.
Note: stargazing etiquette includes minimizing artificial light, so switch off vehicle headlights and use the red light setting on your flashlight or headlamp.
This is a photographer’s dream spot. Over 4000 acres of fully preserved conservation reserve on crown land ensures this precious spot is well protected from urban light. The smooth granite bedrock at the main observing area allows for easy gear set up, while open landscapes provide unobstructed viewing opportunities.
Location: Gravenhurst, Muskoka
Nearby: Stay at Muskoka Bay Resort with dining on site and every imaginable winter activity at your fingertips.
Visitors flock to this spectacular national park during summer for the postcard-perfect views and vistas across Georgian Bay, but in winter the main attraction is above. Enjoy amazing night skies on a winter camping excursion.
Location: Tobermory, Bruce Peninsula
Nearby: If you crave creature comforts after your stargazing outing, check out the waterfront Tobermory Princess Hotel, overlooking Little Tub Harbour.
Perched on the eastern shores of Lake Superior and far from urban light pollution, this is one of the darkest Dark Sky Preserves in the world, thus one of the best places to admire the night sky and catch sight of the Aurora Borealis. The designated observation site is on the beach at the Agawa Bay Campground, not far from the Visitor Centre, and offers a magnificent skyscape.
Location: Wawa, Algoma Country
Nearby: There are several welcoming accommodation options in and around Wawa, including the aptly named Northern Lights Motel and Chalet.
Although not an officially designated dark sky preserve, this is one of the most southerly dark sky sites in Ontario that offers an unmatched night sky experience. Located off Highway 41 just south of Kaladar, the site provides parking and a concrete pad for your tripod or telescope and admission is free. It’s open year-round, while laser-guided tours and astrophotography-focus events are offered from May through September.
Location: 7980 County Road, Erinsville
Nearby: For the ultimate out-of-this-world experience, book a couple of nights at Black River Retreat, a luxurious, secluded cabin that caters to one couple at a time. Yup, just one.
An important spring and fall migration destination for birds and Monarch butterflies, this national park located in Canada southernmost region is also a great spot to admire the starry wilderness at night. Join members of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Windsor Centre for Dark Sky Nights, an evening of stargazing. Bring your own binoculars or look through one of the special telescopes on site for the evening.
Location: Leamington, Essex County
Nearby: The quirky-chic Grove Hotel in Kingsville is brimming with character, charm and delicious craft beer brewed onsite.
Just south of the community of Plevna, about two hours drive west of Ottawa, the Dark Sky Observation Pad of North Frontenac is Canada’s first municipality to be awarded with the Dark Sky Preserve Designation. Equipped with picnic benches, parking, electrical services, and accessible washrooms, it’s a comfortable spot to witness the magic of the skies.
Location: 5816 Road 506 Plevna, Township of North Frontenac
Nearby: Sharbot Lake Country Inn will treat you to genuine hospitality, comfortable rooms with gorgeous lake views and all your favourite comfort food and live music at The Crossing Pub.
One of Ontario’s most prized provincial parks, Killarney hugs the northern shores of Georgian Bay and its distinguishing features include the white quartzite hilltops of the La Cloche mountain range, pine and hardwood forests and smooth pink coloured granite coastline. Killarney was the first park to be awarded the preserve designation and one of only two parks with an observatory. Killarney is a great destination for winter camping or book a roofed accommodation from the six cozy yurts and two cabins.
Location: Killarney, Sudbury District
Nearby: For the full-service resort experience, make Killarney Mountain Lodge your home base.
Summer Stargazing in Ontario
Of course, stargazing is also a magical experience in the warmer months, with several sites in the province catering to summer stargazers keen to view the night skies and wish upon a star or two.
Reconnect with nature at this dark-sky-friendly eco-destination located on the edge of Algonquin Park. Designated as an "observatory" site, you’ll be provided an official night-sky forecast with data populated from the Canadian Meteorological Society, as well as tips and tools to make the most of your night sky experience.
Accommodation options include glamping, camping, tiny houses and even bubble tents - one of the best ways to truly sleep under the stars. Ask about their summer "Dark Sky Astronomy Tour" guided by an astronomy expert.
The DarkSky Preserve at Manitoulin Eco Park is a communal, wide open space offering 360-degree sky viewing, perfect for stargazing. In fact, Manitoulin Eco Park was Canada's first Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) designated commercial Dark Sky Preserve and boasts exceptional dark skies showing 7.5+ magnitude stars. Beyond the preserve, the park extends into the hardwood forest and offers rustic, earth-friendly accommodations.
Location: Tehkummah, Manitoulin Island
Nearby: Manitoulin Hotel and Conference Centre is another great option for your Manitoulin home base, with outdoor and Indigenous themed activities plus onsite dining.
Nestled on Central Ontario’s Bruce Peninsula, you’re surrounded by gorgeous nature at Evergreen Forest resort. Unique accommodations include a woodlot suite with a clear roof for the ultimate stargazing and rooms with massive skylights to fall asleep under the stars.
Last updated: March 29, 2022