The Best Places To See The Northern Lights From North America

It always helps to have something on your bucket list, because it gives you a goal to look forward to and something to achieve in your lifetime. This is something that differs from one person to another, but seeing the northern lights is on the bucket list of many.

In order to see the northern lights, many people will head off on an extravagant vacation, going to faraway lands such as Sweden, Norway, or Finland. Although it certainly is possible to see the northern lights from those areas, U.S. citizens do not necessarily need to head overseas to check this item off of their list.

Photo: Pexels/Harrison Haines

If you live in North America, there are plenty of opportunities to see the northern lights. If you position yourself properly and are there at the right time, you can get the full show.

NASA speaks about the northern lights, saying that they occur when charged particles emanating from the sun interact with the magnetic field of the earth. In the northern hemisphere, they are known as Aurora Borealis. In the southern hemisphere, they are the Aurora Australis, also known as the southern lights.

As far as the timing of seeing the northern lights, you can see them any time of the year if you’re in the right place. You are more likely to see them, however, once the weather starts to turn colder in the autumn and throughout the winter months.

Photo: Pexels/Visit Greenland

This doesn’t necessarily have to do with the temperature outside, it has to do with the longer nights and darker skies during that time. In fact, you may have to stay up late at night in order to see them occur, because they often take place between 11PM and midnight.

If you’re ready to see the aurora borealis in North America, here are some top locations you can consider visiting, and some Facebook posts about those places.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

The U.P. offers an excellent opportunity to catch the northern lights in action. There is very little light pollution in the area because of the low population density so you can get out to see some beauty at night.

One specific location in the Upper Peninsula is the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. You can head out with many others who are looking for this view and bring a blanket so you can stay warm.

Millinocket Lake and Mount Katahdin, Maine

This Northeast United States location is also an excellent choice for seeing the northern lights. In the winter, the temperatures outside may be cold, but the excitement of seeing the northern lights will keep you warm.

One resource to check before you head out to see the northern lights is the NEOC website. Make sure you check with them before heading out on your trip.

Panhandle National Forests, Idaho

If you’d like to be a little further west, you can head to Idaho and stay near the Panhandle National Forest. This is considered to be one of the top locations in the United States for seeing the aurora borealis.

When you arrive in the area, stop by the ranger’s office to get more information about heading out into the forest. You may even want to rent a cabin in the area so you are nearby when the show begins.

Acadia National Park, Maine

Head off to this popular national park for some beautiful dark skies. The location of the park in the northern United States and the lack of light pollution make stargazing a popular pastime.

One particular location to head off to is Sand Beach. The dark skies and convenient positioning make it possible to see the northern lights when they appear.

Fairbanks, Alaska

If you’re really interested in heading off on a trip to see the northern lights, go to the northernmost state in the United States. In the area of Fairbanks, you will potentially see the northern lights almost anytime the sky is dark and clear.

If you’re looking to fulfill this bucket list item with a guarantee, spending some time in Fairbanks is most certainly going to give you a checkmark at the right place.

Cook County, Minnesota

We now come to this dark-sky location in Minnesota. Check out the local website fully dedicated to getting the most out of your search for the Aurora. There are a number of different locations where you can see dark skies in the area, and the website will help you to navigate them successfully.

Churchill, Canada

If you have your passport and want to cross over into Canada, add Churchill to your stop. Almost 300 nights out of the year, you will see the northern lights. It’s little wonder why that is the case because Churchill is close enough to the magnetic north pole to make them bright and easy to see.

While you’re at Churchill, make sure that you do some investigating into the other fun things to see, including polar bears.

Yukon, Canada

We saved this one for last, although it certainly is not last on the list when it comes to seeing the northern lights. In this area, you will see northern lights shortly after the sun goes down and throughout most of the night. If you want to make more out of your trip, you can even book a tour.

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