When and Where to See Northern Lights in North America
Witness the natural phenomenon at these top spots.
Aurora season is officially in full swing and we’ve gathered the best places to view the stunning Northern Lights (Aurora borealis) in North America. Whether you’re based in the U.S. or reside in Canada, our list below has all the details of when and where you can witness the natural phenomenon this season.
The Aurora borealis can be found in the “Aurora zone” of the Northern Hemisphere and the best time to spot it clearly is during cold, dark nights with clear skies. The displays appear in a variety of colors spanning from shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Visitors planning their tour can check out Aurora alerts for live updates on when the lights will appear at its peak.
According to Aurora Zone, the most popular months for Aurora hunting are from the months of January to March due to the long winter nights and snow. For those who don’t entirely fancy the cold weather, it is advised to visit during September and October when the Northern Lights are visible at the same time as the ice-free lakes and rivers. November and December’s days are shorter, but it also brings “darker skies which increases the amount of time during which the Aurora might be visible.”
For those planning a trip to the Northern part of the U.S. or around Northern Canada, be sure to add one of the spots we’ve listed to your itinerary for the trip of a lifetime. Scroll down and learn more about the top five North American locations that are sure to spark your wanderlust.
For more travel inspiration, here are the 20 best destinations for solo travelers.
Fairbanks is the ideal location in Alaska to view the lights because it is situated under the “Auroral Oval” – a huge ring above the Earth’s Geomagnetic North Pole where Aurora activity is concentrated. Additionally, this particular spot is located far from coastal areas that contribute to its clear skies, making the lights more visible at night.
Canada’s Yukon region boasts one of the best views of the Northern Lights. The Aurora borealis appears as soon as the sun starts to set, often before winter’s first snowfall. With its small population, Yukon produces less pollution, making it easier to see the Northern Lights at its prime.
Known as one of the best places to view the natural phenomenon in Canada as well, Yellowknife lies on the Northern shore of Great Slave Lake. Travelers can expect to also see Northern Lighthouses placed throughout the city that helps notify you when the Aurora is most active.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
As one of the northernmost parts of the U.S., Michigan’s Upper Peninsula extends out into Lake Superior, about 410 kilometers from Green Bay, Wisconsin. Aurora sightings are quite frequent in this region. The best spots to watch the lights are at Marquette or the Keweenaw Peninsula.
Cook County, Minnesota
Home to Minnesota’s tallest mountain peaks and highest waterfall, Cook County is one of the most photogenic spots to view the Northern Lights. For those who want to stir away from the typical tourist areas, locals recommend going to Oberg Mountain in the Superior National Forest where you’ll be able to witness views of the Aurora reflecting its luminescence over Lake Superior, Oberg Lake and Moose Mountain.