The mesmerizing appearance of the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, enchants travelers worldwide. The best-known regions to view the lights are remote locations in countries like Scandinavia.
However, you can also view the Northern Lights in the United States. The following are the top destinations to view the Aurora Borealis and traveling tips for when you get there.
Alaska is undoubtedly the top destination when it comes to chasing the Northern Lights in the United States. Fairbanks, located in the heart of Alaska, offers some of the best viewing opportunities.
The Northern Lights season runs between the end of August and April. March and September typically offer the highest chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. During the Northern Lights season, Fairbanks hosts various special events for visitors to witness the dancing lights. Highlights include snowcat tours and evening ice-fishing adventures.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Denali National Park provides a more remote viewing experience in Alaska than Fairbanks. The park consists of vast miles of wilderness and towering mountain ranges. The park truly offers a stunning backdrop to the Northern Lights. Due to sky conditions, you can only view the Aurora Borealis during the fall and winter.
Since you can only see the Northern Lights during the colder months, be mindful of winter weather conditions in Alaska. Dress for warmth, and keep in mind that roads may be impassable due to snow and ice.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
The Upper Peninsula in Michigan is a surprising area in the United States to visit in search of the Aurora Borealis. The region is away from major cities and doesn’t have light pollution that limits viewing. If viewing conditions are right, you can see the Northern Lights dazzle over Lake Superior.
March is considered the best month for viewing the Aurora Borealis in Michigan. However, you may get lucky during another clear night in the fall or winter.
Aroostook County, Maine
Located on the U.S.-Canadian border in northern Maine, Aroostook County offers a remarkable setting for experiencing the Northern Lights. The rural landscape has minimal light pollution, which offers ideal viewing conditions. Although you have several options in the county, the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge allows you to enjoy thousands of acres of wetlands while sky-gazing.
Similar to other areas of the United States, you should plan to travel to the area during the fall and winter. The skies are darkest during this time. and magnetic storm activity peaks.
North Cascades National Park, Washington
North Cascades National Park in Washington is a hidden gem that doesn’t attract the crowds like many other spots for Northern Lights viewing. The mountains and towering trees can obstruct views. However, the Ross Lake Overlook and Diablo Lake offer the best chances of viewing the Aurora Borealis.
Since sightings can be hard to come by at this park, you may want to check Aurora forecasts to judge when your best shot is at viewing the Northern Lights.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota is located near the Canadian border. It offers another opportunity to witness the Northern Lights in the United States. You’ll need to visit during winter to increase your likelihood of viewing the phenomenon.
The park lacks artificial light pollution—the skies are usually perfect for viewing the Northern Lights. You’ll need to find a viewing area without much tree cover. Potential viewing spots include the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and the Ash River Visitor Center.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Located in the rugged terrain of Montana, Glacier National Park is a pristine sanctuary where the skies remain untouched by the glare of urban lights. This park becomes a haven for stargazers during the winter months, offering the breathtaking spectacle of the Northern Lights. The dark, clear skies serve as the perfect canvas for the Aurora Borealis, painting the night with vivid hues of green, pink, and purple.
Isle Royale National Park, Michigan
Isle Royale, set in the icy waters of Lake Superior, presents a unique, secluded environment ideal for witnessing the Northern Lights. This remote island, accessible only by boat or seaplane, is free from light pollution, offering pure, dark skies in the winter. Here, the silence of the night is broken only by the shimmering dance of the Aurora, reflecting on the lake’s surface.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
In the heart of North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park stands as a testament to the untouched beauty of the wilderness. During the colder months, when the skies are clearest, the park occasionally becomes a viewing spot for the Northern Lights. Visitors here may be treated to a serene display of the Aurora, set against the rugged backdrop of the Badlands.
New Hampshire’s White Mountains
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are not just a hiker’s paradise but also a potential stage for the Northern Lights. During periods of geomagnetic storms, when the conditions align, the northern latitudes of these mountains can light up with the ethereal glow of the Aurora, turning the sky into a mesmerizing spectacle.
In the tranquil expanses of Vermont, especially the northern regions, the skies occasionally come alive with the Northern Lights. During periods of heightened solar activity, the Aurora Borealis makes its presence known, turning the horizon into a dynamic display of nature’s finest artwork. The remote, dark skies of Vermont serve as a reminder of the celestial wonders that lie beyond our everyday gaze.
Tips for Northern Lights Viewing
You need to plan your visit during winter when nights are longer and darker. You’ll also need to pack warm clothing. The best locations for Aurora Borealis viewing will have freezing temperatures during peak viewing months.
When traveling, stay safe by not carrying a large amount of cash. Never travel alone since some locations for viewing the Northern Lights are remote.
Secure your electronics, too, during trips to the Northern Lights. There are many instances when travelers get hacked using public Wi-Fi. As a protective measure, you can get a VPN with a USA IP address before your trip with NordVPN. It will keep your location and connection private. You’ll also not have to deal with geo-restrictions while traveling.
Planning a trip to see the United States Northern Lights can offer a magical experience. Viewing the Aurora Borealis appeals to nature enthusiasts and photography fans. But remember to stay safe during your trip by checking weather reports and securing any devices.