The wild night sky: summer stargazing at CMH

In Lodges, Summer

CMH Bugaboos. Photo by Kahli April Photography

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June 20, 2023 | Words by Alison Jones

Outside the lodge, overlooking a horizon pierced by peaks, the purple hues of twilight gently yield to a darkening night sky gracefully descending on the valley.

Here, in the unspoiled wilds of British Columbia, far from flickering city lights and the rush of modern life, the gentle rhythm of nature at night envelops visitors in the rarely experienced true dark.

There are no other people, nor infrastructure, for over 50 km; your company comes only from the constellations above. Within it, the stars shine with a silent brilliance that mirrors the stillness of the surroundings below.

Viewable with unparalleled clarity, stargazing in this pristine portion of backcountry BC is an experience that awakens the soul and ignites the imagination.

Backcountry British Columbia is a stargazer’s paradise

True dark like this is hard to come by.

Research conducted by the World Atlas of Artificial Night Sky Brightness found that 99% of those in the United States and Europe live under light-polluted skies. The authors specifically examined G20 countries and further discovered that in terms of area, Canada is one of the countries with the least amount of light pollution.

And it’s understandable when you look at off-the-path destinations like CMH Bugaboos, Bobbie Burns, and Cariboos.

When the sun sets and the daytime attraction of the mountains is no longer on show, a vast swath of stars emerges, impressing even the routine observer.

It’s this unique opportunity for those who seek solace in the vast, to sit in this unspoiled darkness and stare into the ultimate example of unexplored territory; the beauty of the far beyond.

A slightly overcast night at CMH Cariboos provides extra drama in the night sky, with a blanket of stars visible between the fast-moving clouds. | Photo by John Evely

Yet, the sense of awe and wonder of the ether has far-reaching benefits.

A 2016 study of Dark Nature: Exploring Potential Benefits of Nocturnal Nature-Based Interaction for Human and Environmental Health, published in the European Journal of Ecopsychology showed, “Nature connectedness was higher for those with more years of stargazing experience and for those who indicated noticing wildlife while stargazing. Participants highlighted a range of benefits, including a sense of personal growth from developing skills to experiencing positive emotions and a variety of transcendent thoughts and experiences.”

So go ahead and lose yourself in the beauty of the unspoiled night sky—it’s good for you!

The night sky forms a backdrop behind the warm glow of Cariboo Lodge, which is the only artificial light visible for miles. | Photo by Jesse Tamayo

The best summer stargazing spots at CMH

With their unique, far-flung locations deep in the wilderness and far from the glowing lights of the nearest towns, our CMH Summer destinations have some of the lowest possible light pollution levels in the country.

Discover incredible stargazing just a few steps from each lodge, including great visibility of planets such as Venus, Jupiter and Saturn, and a reliable showcase of the Milky Way.

Professional photographer Kahli April, who hosts a multi-day Photography Workshop at CMH Bugaboos, shares her insights into the best nighttime viewing locations easily accessible from CMH’s three Summer lodges:

CMH Bugaboos 

Look west toward the iconic granite Bugaboos Spires. You can’t beat a starry sky above a dramatic mountain skyline. The front lawn of the lodge is a good place to start. Make it even better by heading to the back of the pond behind the lodge to see the sky and the constellations reflected on the water.

CMH Cariboos

Again, look west toward the surrounding peaks and Zillmer Glacier. You can do this from the edge of the front lawn or even off the lodge’s deck.

CMH Bobbie Burns

Walk a short distance to the nearby lodge pond to capture some of the brightest stars. Photos will also look great with the reflection of the water. If you’re lucky, you may even see the aurora borealis to the north.

“The lodges are far away from the light pollution of the towns and cities, meaning the viewable stars from there is something special that many people won’t have ever experienced,” Kahli said. These combined factors have produced some of her most iconic shots.

A dazzling celestial display dances above the world-famous Bugaboo Spires, as viewed from the pond at CMH Bugaboos. | Photo by Kahli April Photography 

“From the lodge terrace, once your eyes adjust to the dark, you’ll start to glimpse the billions of stars dancing above the mountains. The glaciers shimmer under the starlight, and the towering peaks frame the scene, adding a sense of grandeur and awe to the breathtaking view. Nothing compares to watching the planets, stars, and galaxies drift above the rugged mountain skyline.”

Connectedness to the remote

As the world begins to sleep, the night sky wakes—and when you marvel at the endless dance of the distant lights, you realize that your adventure doesn’t have to end when the sun sets—it merely changes. And with it, so do you.

In a place where transformative travel comes in abundance, it seems only fitting that nature’s ever-present embrace captivates all of those who visit, in the same way it has on humankind for millennia.


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