The Northern Lights, known also as aurora borealis are a natural display of light in the northern hemisphere’s night sky. The lights move and change shape and color. The Northern lights are one of the most awe-inspiring events on the planet. You do not have to travel north of the Arctic Circle to see the lights.
While there are no guarantees that the northern lights show will happen on any particular night, Northern Lights trips are typically best made in late fall and winter/early spring.
We’ll share here with you some of the best places in North America to see the aurora borealis.
Best Places In North America To See The Northern Lights
Photo by Tommy Tang on Unsplash
Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
Fairbanks is probably the best place to see the northern lights in Alaska and in the United States. Thousands of people travel to Alaska every winter to see the polar phenomena. There are many different ways you can experience the aurora lights. For example, you can take a tour and watch them from a heated “aurorium” cabin, see them on a flight above the Arctic Circle or on a dog sled adventure or while you are ice fishing. The option is to rent a car and drive to the closest location and wait to see the lights.
If you’re coming to Fairbanks just see the Northern Lights then the best is if you are coming in winter as March could be one of the best times to come.
Aurora Borealis Lodge offers comfortable rooms of Cedar Lodge just 20 miles north of Fairbanks with a unique Alaskan log cabin style. Each Cedar Lodge room has excellent aurora viewing opportunities with north-facing windows.
Photo by Leonard Laub on Unsplash
Auroras occur throughout the whole year, but the reason why you cannot see the Lights in the summer months is because it does not get dark enough.
The best chance to experience the northern lights is during the first few weeks of winter, but in general, they are visible from mid-August to mid-April. The best conditions to view the Northern Lights are when the sky is clear and there are no ambient lights around you.
Many tour operators provide a guided Aurora Tour in Yukon where you can choose a warm and cozy cabin or heated wall tents and they also rent winter outerwear or provide it with their viewing packages.
You can reach to the remote wilderness by a snowmobile or dogsled out.
Yukon offers exciting adventures, breath-taking regions, and awe-inspiring experiences.
Photo by Jason Carpenter on Flickr
Cook County, Minnesota
Cook County is the Best Place to View the Northern Lights in Minnesota. Located in the northeastern tip of the state, bordering Canada on the north and Lake Superior on the east and south, and Lake County on the west. It’s one of the best places in the lower 48 to see Northern Lights.
Travelers can see the northern lights and Milky Way lighting over Lake Superior and along the Gunflint Trail. Here you’ll find Minnesota’s tallest mountain peaks and highest waterfall. The Aurora Borealis can be seen between late autumn and early spring in Cook County.
The average snow per year there is 120 inches, and you can enjoy over 400km of groomed cross-country ski trails which is the biggest such network in North America, 450 miles of snowmobile trails, and 1,000 acres of downhill skiing and snowboarding.
Photo by Denali National Park and Preserve on Flickr
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Denali National Park is another amazing destination for outstanding Northern Lights views in Alaska, besides Fairbanks, because of 6+ million acres, and lack of light pollution. Denali National Park and Preserve is an American national park located in Alaska, home to the highest mountain in North America – Denali. One of the best ways to see the Northern Lights is to book lodging around the park, where you can enjoy the mountain views and Aurora lights outdoor camping or stay in one of the many lodgings in the area.
Denali is home to a variety of North American birds and mammals.
Photo by Bureau of Land Management on Flickr
Idaho Panhandle National Forest, Idaho, USA
The Idaho Panhandle National Forests contain a wide variety of wildlife. They are a set of three national forests located in the U.S. state of Idaho. There are extensive trail networks for trails including most popular Pulaski Tunnel Trail and the Route of the Hiawatha. The area offers great conditions for hiking, winter snowmobile and cross country skiing. You can also reserve a cabin in the Forests.
Idaho Panhandle National Forest offers great locations for photographers. Here you can find the Priest Lake, Revett Lake, & Lake Pend Oreille. One of the most popular spots to base yourself is on the edge of Priest Lake, where the water mirrors the Aurora Borealis and creating a dazzling effect. The forests are expanding more than 5,000 miles and offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy not just the northern lights but and the wildlife too. The area is rich in wildlife such as elk, deer, as well as species such as grizzly bears, wolves, and caribou.
Photo by Danial Bradford on Flickr
Banff National Park is Canada’s first national park and includes mountainous terrain, with many glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, turquoise glacial lakes, and alpine landscapes. Banff is part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site. For better experience and higher chance for Aurora viewing, the less light pollution, the better. This site can help you to check for levels of light pollution.
Besides Aurora lights, visitors can enjoy hiking, bird-watching, mountain climbing, canoeing, skiing, fishing, and any kind of guided tours.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Michigan is home to more than 300 waterfalls, 2,500 miles of trails and 11,000 inland lakes, but also one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights. With its less population and cold winters, northern Michigan offers the perfect conditions for viewing the aurora borealis. The Upper Peninsula provides some of the best northern lights viewing in the lower 48 due to the very dark night skies, along the south shore of Lake Superior.
The best time to see the lights is from August through April, as November, and April are the peak months. You can check out NOAA’s three-day forecast and 30-minute forecast
There are some websites like NOAA, Space Weather or Space Weather Live, that offer forecasting for the northern lights.
Don’t forget to check some of the places to see the Northern Lights in the world.