torrance barrens dark-sky preserve

Torrance Barrens preserve is the ultimate sky-watching spot near Toronto

The stars from the Torrance Barrens preserve are something to behold.

It's always surreal being under the summer sky and star gazing, but unfortunately with Toronto's light pollution (yes, it's a real thing!) all we get to see is a greyish haze, even on the clearest night. This is one of the reasons why Dark Sky Preserves were created.

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Dark Sky Preserves are incredibly unique and rare, with only 6 in Ontario, 19 in Canada, and less than 100 in the entire world. Luckily, the Torrance Barrens Preserve is only 2 hours from Toronto, making it one of the only places nearby to appreciate spectacular night skies.

This fully preserved oasis is almost 5000 acres, was the world's first permanent site, and is legally protected under the Public Lands Act by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

So, what makes the skies at Torrance Barrens so clear, and unhampered by light pollution of nearby cities? It just so happens a lucky number of coincidences have combined to make this area light free, such as the site being completely surrounded by either protected or undeveloped land.

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When you visit, be sure to bring a camera to capture the night sky in its natural and untouched beauty, because the sights will be like anything you've ever witnessed before. It's one of the only spots in Ontario (and Canada!) to easily view the Milky Way, Andromeda Galaxy, and on occasion the Northern Lights.

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If you own a telescope – bring it. You'll be able to see the rings of Saturn and cloud banks of Jupiter even from the most basic model.

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Obviously, the night skies are what attract thousands of visitors each year, but there is also a ton to explore here throughout the day. The marshy areas are covered by accessible boardwalks, and the lush forests have a bunch of picturesque hiking trails.

The preserve is also home to one of the province's rarest animals – the Five Lined Skink– which is Ontario's only lizard.

For a unique and unforgettable experience this year, stopping in at this preserve while out in Muskoka this summer is a must.

Lead photo by

Gardner


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