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.
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.
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.