Seeing the Northern Lights

Northern lights

The northern lights, also called the aurora borealis, are one of nature’s most breathtaking displays.

The celestial phenomenon occurs when atmospheric gases collide with electrically charged solar particles. This creates a dazzling neon show that illuminates the sky.

Predicting where and when to see the lights can be difficult. Here are five places in the US that will give you the best chances of seeing the northern lights.

  1. Alaska

Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. Fairbanks in Alaska is a favorite destination. It’s located in a prime position under the ‘aurora oval,’ an area around the North Pole where auroras are concentrated.

Fairbanks is found north of the Denali National Park. Hectares of untouched wilderness with no light pollution give you an excellent possibility to see the northern lights. You can get clear views of the auroras during the Fall season.

You can go on guided tours or book a lodge and venture for several nights to spot the lights.

  • Idaho

Many people don’t think of Idaho when it comes to viewing the northern lights. However, seeing the magical display at Idaho’s Panhandle National Park or Priest Lake is a magnificent treat. You can maximize your chances of seeing the lights by heading to these locations.

During the winter, they offer clear, dark skies that are perfect to view the northern lights. The lake often reflects the auroras to give you a unique mirrored perspective of the phenomenon. The forest also provides you with areas free of light pollution and the perfect mountainous backdrop.

  • Aroostook County, Maine

Found on the US-Canadian border, Aroostook County in Maine is a sparsely populated region. There is little to no light pollution that can obstruct your northern lights viewing. Clear winter nights are the best time to view the lights in Aroostook.

The best location is the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge which has over 2100 hectares of grasslands, wetlands, and forest. You don’t have to worry if you can’t get there during the winter. The lights are visible in the spring and fall when magnetic storm activities are intense.

  • The Upper Peninsula, Michigan

The Upper Peninsula in Northern Michigan is an excellent location on the latitude of the aurora oval. You get a superb viewing experience on hundreds of miles of shoreline along Lake Superior, plus very dark night skies.

Northern lights sightings are common in the region. Residents even get to marvel at the dancing lights from their backyards. You should ensure you get a location away from any tree line or hill obstructions to enjoy the spectacle.

  • Cook County

Cook County in northeastern Minnesota provides you with many outdoor spaces to relax and marvel at the northern lights. Its dark skies and northern location make it easy to see the aurora in the fall and spring.

The vast skies in the county also provide the perfect canvas for an ideal display of northern lights.

Traveling Over the Holidays

Traveling, in airport

This year, traveling over the holidays will require extra preparation.

Almost everything will be a bit different to accommodate safety protocols. But you shouldn’t be disheartened. Protective measures don’t eliminate the fun of traveling. Here’s how you can travel responsibly over the holidays:

Get Vaccinated

The CDC recommends delaying traveling until you are fully vaccinated. You will be deemed fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose in a two-dose series vaccine or 2 weeks after a single dose vaccine.

The CDC on 2nd April shared some excellent news that will favor vaccinated travelers. If you get vaccinated, you can travel safely within the US without getting tested before and after travel. You will not need to self-quarantine and are less likely to get or spread COVID-19.

You will also travel internationally without testing pre-travel depending on destination and without quarantining after travel.

Choose Safer Travel

Even when fully vaccinated, you should choose safer travel options. By selecting such options, you protect yourself and others from COVID-19, including your loved ones. The safest option is a short road trip with household members or fully vaccinated people and few stops on the way.

Air travel means you spend time at terminals and security lines. This brings you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces. Distancing in crowded flights can also be challenging. If you have to fly, choose flights that have few stops and layovers.

You should avoid bus trips, long-distance trains, or traveling on cruise ships and boats.

Adhere to All Safety Protocols

When traveling, wear a mask over your nose and mouth. Masks are mandated nationwide in the US for interstate and airport travel. This includes planes, trains, buses, and other means of public transport in stations and airports.

You should stay at least 2 meters or 2 arm’s length from anyone not traveling with you and avoid crowds. Remember to use hand sanitizer and wash your hands often. Ensure you carry your hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes and a few face masks.

You should also stay aware of local guidelines when traveling. Some destinations can have stricter guidelines or more rigorous protocols for visitors and residents.

Get Travel Insurance

Now more than ever before, you need travel insurance. Volatility still remains, and plans may change at the spur of the moment. You have to insure yourself against trip cancellations. Many travel insurance policies now include coverage for trip cancellations.

It will reimburse the non-refundable and prepaid costs of your trip if you can’t travel due to unforeseen circumstances.

Get a Travel Advisor

Travel advisors have become vital in the travel process of 2021. Uncertainty still swarms the travel industry. Borders can close, and routes can change at any time. You don’t want to waste holiday time on the phone trying to find anyone who can assist with reservation changes.

Advisors stay continuously updated with changes and have a direct line with destinations, resorts, and airlines. Use travel advisors to avoid headaches.



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