Category: Alberta

Jasper Dark Sky Preserve largest in the world

Jasper National Park was declared the world’s largest Dark Sky Preserve today. Dark Sky Preserves (DSP) are areas designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC) that promote responsible lighting, offer public observing sites for quality night sky viewing, and have active and engaging public outreach programs about astronomy and responsible lighting. They also demonstrate leadership in responsible lighting within their facilities. Including Jasper, there are currently 11 sites in Canada that have received DSP designation. This is more than all of the other DSPs in the world combined.

Jasper is not only the biggest DSP in the world, but also larger than all other preserves combined. The park offers great night sky observation opportunities, such as this halo around a moon on a cold winter night just outside of the town of Jasper. More information about observation sites, clear sky forecasts and maps can be found on

Halo around the moon over Whistler mountain, Jasper National Park.

New photos of Jasper online

I have uploaded some images of Jasper and Mount Robson to a new Photoshelter account. Check out the Jasper National Park and Mt. Robson galleries on the new site.

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park

Mt. Robson from Hargreaves Shelter

Banff Film Festival World Tour trailer

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour trailer for 2010/11 has been posted. As usual, it is action-packed and inspiring. The eagle at 0:12 was shot in Mongolia’s Bayan Olgii region in a segment on Mongolia’s eagle hunters as part of a film on mountain peoples. Jasper National Park’s Maligne Lake made it into the clip as well, at 2:05.

New Jasper hiking guide comes with electronic trail data

Hiking Jasper trail guide

Hiking Jasper trail guide

Rob Bryce’s new Hiking Jasper and Robson is a hiking guide with a twist. It has descriptions of 70 trails in Jasper National Park and Mt. Robson Provincial Park, but, it also comes with a DVD that has GPS data for all 70 hikes on it, including elevation profiles, Google Earth map overviews, and tracks and waypoints that can easily be downloaded to a GPS. If you are a technophile, or like to carefully plan your hikes, this guide is for you.
The guide is available at  stores in Jasper, MEC in Alberta and BC, and soon some other stores in the region. Or it is available online at Canadian Rockies Books.

New Tourism Jasper video

Tourism Jasper just released a catchy new promo video. It describes the town and the park pretty well!


Banff ground squirrel – squirrelizer

The famous Banff ground squirrel is still getting more social media attention. An enterprising soul has created a squirrelizer – a website where you can add the famous squirrel to your own images. And Banff Lake Louise Tourism’s Banff Crasher Squirrel movie has had 15,000 views over the past few days. Not bad for a an innocent little rodent.

Of course I am adding to the viral effect with this post too…

Banff ground squirrel becomes a social media sensation

Banffs famous groundsquirrel

Banff's famous ground squirrel (from

Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs) spend millions of dollars to produce the perfect photos and videos to attract the attention of visitors and the media. Nowadays we do our best to get this content out into the social media spehere to try and attract some attention. Yet, as the Banff ground squirrel has shown us in the last week, nowadays it is not the carefully staged hero photo or travel video that makes it – it is a simple snapshot gone wrong when a curious ground squirrel decided to jump into the frame. Totally unplanned and unstaged, but utterly classic – no ad agency could have replicated such an honest moment in any photo shoot. The picture was featured in the media around the world, making the front-page of many national newspapers, and being featured on newscasts worldwide.

It reminded me of Susan Boyle, the Brittish Got Talent sensation. No-one would have guessed she would be successful, but 73 million YouTube views don’t lie.

The question is, how does one find a groundsquirrel or a Susan Boyle? These examples show that one doesn’t – they have to come to you. They must be real moments, real people. Such is the new reality of social media.

Who is Canada’s next ground squirrel? It may well be Lucky the dog. Lucky stars in several YouTube videos from Labrador – one with a collapsing iceberg, and several where he valiantly barks at nearby humpback whales. With his trademark red doggie lifevest, Lucky may one of these days become a social media sensation as well.

But what can a DMO do to prepare when such an opportunity does present itself? Be ready. Create a social media strategy, have a Youtube and Flickr channel ready to upload such a video or photo too, and most importantly, have a Public Relations strategy in place to get the word out to the mainstream media as well. Then, if a great opportunity presents itself, you can capitalize on it immediately. Banff Lake Louise Tourism’s PR team went into overdrive the minute they realized the power of this picture, and the results were phenomenal. Tourism Newfoundland and Labrador has also worked hard to promote Lucky, and find additional footage of him.

Alberta uses UK beach in its promo video

The British press is having a lot of fun with a promotional ad for Alberta, which features a beach in Northhumberland. Not a wise thing to do when you are trying to promote your province. On the other hand, it has generated quite a lot of press coverage of Alberta in the UK. Who knows if it generated some interest. The tourism folks in Northhumberland are certainly very happy with the attention!

Crown of the Continent

Earlier this year, the Crown of the Continent Geotourism Council, together with National Geographic, launched a cool new website about the region that includes and surrounds Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in southwestern Alberta, southeastern British Columbia, and northwestern Montana. They also publish an accompanying hard-copy mapguide of the area. It’s well worth getting if you plan to explore this lesser know part of the Rockies.

Tripadvisor top 100 hotels

Together with their top destinations, TripAdvisor also published their top 100 places to stay. Canada has three entries in the top luxury hotels:
17: Fairmont YVR airport hotel
27. Hotel Dominion 1912, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
95. Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

I would have rated the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver or Chateau Lake Louise higher – I wouldn’t don’t see an airport hotel as a wonderful place to stay, no matter how luxurious.

The rest of the top 10 luxury hotels in Canada:
4. Auberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City, Quebec
5. Loews Hotel Vogue, Montreal, Quebec
6. Hotel Nelligan, Montreal, Quebec
7. Four Seasons Resort Whistler, Whistler, British Columbia
8. Hotel Gault, Montreal, Quebec
9. Le Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites, Montreal, Quebec
10. Sofitel Montreal, Montreal, Quebec

Some interesting hotels among their top 10 hidden gems in Canada:

1. Harbour House Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
4. Alpine Village – Jasper, Jasper National Park, Alberta
6. Mt. Engadine Lodge, Canmore, Alberta  <- keep an eye out for this lodge. Up and coming.
8. Patricia Lake Bungalows, Jasper National Park, Alberta
9. Chateau Beauvallon Mont Tremblant, Mont Tremblant, Quebec
10. Artisan Inn, Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador <- another property to keep an eye out for. Very cool place.