northernLights

The Best Time To See the Northern Lights in Alaska?

Do you want to know when it is the best time to visit Alaska and see the northern lights in Alaska? Are you curious about the best month to see the Northern Lights in Alaska? Do you want to know if you can see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska? Or if you are wondering when the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska in September is then read on. Here we dive into when you can see the northern lights in Alaska, where you can see the northern lights, and details about spectacular viewing options.



Best Time To See the Northern Lights in Alaska?

best time to see norther lights in alaska

You may be asking yourself when you can see the Northern Lights in Alaska, and when the best time to visit Alaska is. Well, the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is between mid-September and early April. During that time, the nights are long and dark, which makes it easier to see the northern lights in alaska. The northern lights occur all four seasons of the year, although they are harder to see under the Midnight Sun. So, the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is between mid-September and early April, when less daylight leads to darker night skies.

when to see northern ligths alaskaSkies Are Often Clearer In Colder Months; When The Northern Lights Are Most Visible

If you are wondering when you can see the Northern Lights in Alaska, you may think the best months are in September or October. In September and October the weather is not cold yet, and while clear skies are not as reliable as in the Spring, the past few years have had incredibly colorful displays. So, is autumn the best time to visit Alaska? Autumn is very short in Alaska with the rapidly diminishing daylight hours, meaning temperatures soon begin to fall. Autumn begins in mid-September and is more or less over just a few weeks later. Much of the wildlife returns to hibernation, too. During this time of year bodies of water will not be frozen, so you may have the opportunity to see the aurora overhead and reflected on the surface, which makes for stunning views and incredible photographs! October often brings some snow, but it sometimes doesn’t come until November. 

In the months of November and December, the cold starts creeping in and the snow starts falling. You’ll be able to enjoy classic winter activities like dog sledding and snowshoeing during one of the best times to see the northern lights. A higher chance of snow equates to more potential cloud cover, but as the nights get longer you also have more hours for potential sightings. This makes the winter months one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, as well as one of the best times to visit Alaska.

 

ice museumSee The Northern Lights & The Alaskan Ice Museum On The Same Trip!
Click Here For Details >

 

Many people say the months of January through March are the best time to visit Alaska! But are they the best months to see the Northern Lights in Alaska? Yes! These two months are one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, although temperatures through February are quite cold, often as low as -20 Fahrenheit, so make sure to wear insulated clothing from top to bottom. If you don’t own everything you need to stay warm in the Arctic (most people don’t!), we offer affordable gear rentals for our tours, which includes suitable mittens, a winter hat, snow boots, and insulated pants and a warm coat.

Just remember if you are visiting Alaska in the winter – January starts out pretty dark, but the days grow longer with 8 hours of light in early January to more than 12 hours by the end of February. It’s one of the best times to visit Alaska and see the Northern Lights in Alaska because many towns have fun winter “cabin fever reliever” festivals. There’s great snow for winter sports, and enough darkness for visitors to see Northern Lights in Alaska.

As March begins, temperatures start rising and since the majority of snow has already fallen for the season, we often have many clear nights. This may be a great opportunity to see the northern lights, but may not be the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska. However, during the month of March the days are longer (12 – 15 hrs), it warms up (20’s and 30’s), and there’s great snow. The Iditarod sled dog race starts the first Saturday in March. All of these things make some people think March is the best time to visit Alaska and the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska!

Here’s Why March Is Good, But Not The Best Time To See The Northern Lights In Alaska

The downside to looking for the Alaskan Northern Lights in March is that with more daylight, you will have to stay up later to watch for the lights. The good news is that if you travel to see the northern lights with us, then you will get a wake-up call when a viewing opportunity occurs! So, if you are a night owl or don’t mind being pulled out of a cozy bed, March might be the best time for you to see the Northern Lights in Alaska!

All of that said, you’ll have a really good chance of seeing the northern lights on any of our tours from September through March. If you want to learn why this is the best time to visit Alaska, scroll down to the last Q&A at the bottom of this page.

Is October in Alaska A Good Time To See The Northern Lights?

Alaska in October is an in-between time of year for vacations and traveling. Summer adventures have ended, and winter fun has not yet begun. Days grow shorter, and the weather can be cold and rainy – or even snowy! Bears are preparing for hibernation after a summer of salmon runs. You can experience dazzling fall color, but only until mid-month, because the leaves fall fast!

While October isn’t the best time to visit Alaska, there are some bright lights to the month:

  • Summer crowds are gone from Alaska in October, so you’ll have the wilderness to yourself. The hiking is great this time of year, as long as the trails stay clear of snow.
  • Alaska in October is a great time to see the northern lights before it gets too cold!
  • You can still visit Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Part or travel to Mile 30 inside Denali National Park.
  • If the temperatures are too cold, you can visit Alaska’s amazing museums.
  • The fishing for trout and steelhead is fantastic this time of year!

Best Time of Day To See The Northern Lights In Alaska?

The best time of the day to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is during the night; because you can’t see them during the day. With certain times of the year having more daylight than others, it is important to note that the best time of the day to see the northern lights is between 9:30pm and 1am. The aurora may appear longer than that, but there is no way to predict the duration — nature tends to operate on her own schedule. With all that being said, if you’d like to see the northern lights for yourself, then learn more about our Alaskan Northern Lights Adventure In Fairbanks, Alaska.

What Time of Night is Best to See the Northern Lights in Alaska?

see the northern lights in September is the best

Your best chances of seeing the northern lights in Alaska is always between 10 pm and 2 am. That is the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska, but you may not want to wait up for the entire night to see the northern lights. Fortunately on our Northern Lights Ecotour, our night-time Aurora guide stays up watching the skies so you don’t have to. We track the solar activity forecasts, scan the skies and provide wake-up calls whenever the Aurora Borealis appears.

Best Month To See The Northern Lights In Alaska

While auroras can be viewed between September and April due to sufficient darkness in the night sky, the best months to see the northern lights in Alaska are the months that are closer to the winter solstice because of the decreased day lengths. This is when you can see the Northern Lights in Alaska.

When Is The Best Time Of Day To See The Northern Lights?

The most important factor to viewing the Northern Lights is darkness. Contrary to popular belief, it is not pitch black in Alaska for the entire winter! Although the sun does not appear above the horizon for most of the winter months, even the shortest day of the year (December 21) has three to four hours of grey/blue light, rendering the Northern lights invisible to the naked eye. However, once true darkness falls, the Northern lights can be visible at any time of the day – sometimes as early as 4 p.m. and as late as 6 p.m. But the best time to see the Northern Lights falls around 9:30 p.m. – 1 a.m. The darkness influences aurora viewing, and may help you decide when it is the best time to visit Alaska.

What Causes The Northern Lights?

Even though the Northern Lights are only visible when the sky is completely dark, the auroras are actually caused by the sun. During active phases of solar activity the sun sends energy and particles toward earth, where they interact with gases in our atmosphere, resulting in the beautiful displays of light we see in the sky. Every 10 – 12 years, the sun’s solar cycle increases, and the number of sunspots on the sun’s surface become more numerous. The more sunspots on the sun’s surface, the more solar flares – and the more energy is released into space, causing more aurora activity for our viewing pleasure.

If you want to know when the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is, or when the best time to visit Alaska is, you need to pay attention to the Sun’s solar activity cycle. Every 11 years, the sun passes through a Solar Maximum (a time of highest solar activity) that is followed by a Solar Minimum (a time of lowest solar activity). The best time to see the Northern Lights is during the Solar Maximum. In general, the Northern Lights will remain active for two to three years before and after a Solar Maximum, increasing the frequency and intensity of aurora sightings and making this the best time to visit Alaska to view the Northern Lights.

What Are The Best Conditions For Northern Light Viewing?

Finally, the Northern Lights are easiest to see when the sky is clear and free of clouds. Yes, sometimes you can see the Northern Lights if the cloud cover is thin and the aurora is strong, but the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is when the skies are dark, clear of clouds, and the solar activity is strong!

So, when are the Northern Lights in Alaska? When can you see the Northern Lights in Alaska? Read on to learn more about the best months to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, and when you can see the Northern Lights in Alaska.

Months Will You See The Northern Lights? Average Hours of Night/Darkness Aurora Activity Weather
January Will there be Northern Lights?
Great Chances to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, but there are high chances of storms that may cause skies to be overcast.
Average Hours:
17.5hrs
Activity:
Medium Activity
Weather:
Chance of Cloud Cover
February Will there be Northern Lights?
One of the BEST times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska
Average Hours:
14.9hrs
Activity:
Highest Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
March Will there be Northern Lights?
One of the BEST times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska
Average Hours:
12.1hrs
Activity:
Highest Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
April Will there be Northern Light?
Good Chances Your Will See The Northern Lights, but the nights are much shorter than during the winter months.
Average Hours:
9.2hrs
Activity:
High Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
May Will there be Northern Lights?
Unlikely That You Will See The Northern Lights In Alaska
Average Hours:
6.5hrs
Activity:
Medium Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
June Will there be Northern Lights?
Unlikely That You Will See The Northern Lights In Alaska
Average Hours:
4.8hrs
Activity:
Low Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
July Will there be Northern Lights?
Unlikely That You Will See The Northern Lights In Alaska
Average Hours:
5.7hrs
Activity:
Low Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
August Will there be Northern Lights?
Unlikely That You Will See The Northern Lights In Alaska
Average Hours:
8.3hrs
Activity:
Low Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
September Will there be Northern Lights?
One of the BEST times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska
Average Hours:
11.2hrs
Activity:
Highest Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
October Will there be Northern Lights?
One of the BEST times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska
Average Hours:
14hrs
Activity:
High Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
November Will there be Northern Lights?
Great Chances You Will See The Northern Lights
Average Hours:
16.8hrs
Activity:
Medium Activity
Weather:
Clear Skies
December Will there be Northern Lights?
Fair Chances to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, but there are high chances of storms that may cause skies to be overcast.
Average Hours:
18.4hrs
Activity:
Low Activity
Weather:
Chance of Cloud Cover

Where is the Best Place in Alaska to See the Northern Lights?

arora borealis alaska best time september

Can you see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska? Fairbanks is renowned as the best place to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. The combination of the city’s proximity to the Arctic Circle and its great infrastructure (airports, hotels, restaurants, and so on) has made it a premier destination for seeing the aurora borealis. While visitors and residents can see northern lights frequently right from town, many hotels and tour operators drive people away from the city lights so that they can get a better view of the incredible aurora borealis. 

We’ve opted to use a pair of lodges ten miles outside of Fairbanks and away from the city’s light pollution. The location means that the lights appear vibrant in the skies on clear nights and we never have to drive anywhere to see them. Even more convenient is that our aurora guide will wake you up when the lights appear and you can simply roll out of bed, put on some warm clothes, and step outside the lodge to take it all in! They can even help you get photos or get photos of you!

Will I see the Northern Lights on my Tour?

chances of seeing the northern lights

When can I see the Northern Lights in Alaska? It’s highly likely that you will see the northern lights on our Northern Lights Adventure. Since it’s a natural phenomenon, we cannot guarantee that you will see the lights, but the odds are in your favor because when we travel we choose the best time and month to see the northern lights in Alaska. All of our guests on our past three seasons of departures (2018-19, 2019-20, 2020-21) saw the lights at least once.

The Northern Lights Are Unpredictable

You are able to see the northern lights because of tiny particles from the sun that enter the Earth’s atmosphere. As particles from the sun collide with gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere, brilliant lights are formed. The unfortunate side of things is that, though you may be able to predict the best months to see the northern lights in Alaska, you may not know exactly when the exact best times to see the northern lights in Alaska will be. The good news is that we have seen the aurora borealis on nearly every trip we have gone on, making our guides some of the best at predicting when it is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska.

When can you see the Northern Lights in Alaska?

The northern lights occur because of solar activity, and because the sun is presently near what is called solar minimum, there is a smaller chance now of experiencing a full-on auroral storm than during solar maximum. However, there will be nightly displays of northern lights right through the moment solar maximum returns in 2024. The real trick is finding clear skies, and knowing that the clear skies mean the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska.

So, when can you see the Northern Lights in Alaska? When is the best time to visit Alaska to see the Northern Lights? Displays of the northern lights tend to intensify around the equinox months of September and March because Earth’s tilt in relation to the sun means that the magnetic field of Earth and the solar wind are in sync. Combine that with a higher chance of clear skies in Alaska during the spring months, and March at an inland location will likely be the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska. If you are searching for an intense viewing experience, September and March may be the best time to visit Alaska.

Can You See The Northern Lights In Alaska In September?

We run the tours from September through the end of March/early April. So why are the odds so great? It’s a combination of several factors:

  • Location: the area around Fairbanks is situated near the Arctic Circle and is well known for frequent northern lights sightings. The skies are dark outside of the city, which makes them easier to spot.
  • Duration: Our northern lights tours offer six nights of potential viewings. The more time you spend around Fairbanks in the winter, the greater the chance of seeing the aurora. In fact, the northern lights are visible four out of five nights during the season up here—as long as the skies are clear. 
  • Night watch: In addition to our daytime guides, we have a night time guide on staff to watch for the lights. Whenever they appear in the skies, he or she will wake you up with a text message, phone call or knock on your door so you won’t miss them.

If you’re interested in learning more about our Northern Lights Adventure, which offers one of the best chances to see the northern lights in Alaska — or anywhere for that matter — head on over to our tour page. We know when you can see the Northern Lights in Alaska! We’ve created hand-crafted travel to Alaska that you will certainly agree is the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska. Submit the form on that page to download the brochure, which includes the full itinerary, upcoming tour dates, and pricing.

see the northern lights in alaska