3 Ways To See The Northern Lights in Alaska’s Far North

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Where Is The Best Place In Alaska To See The Aurora Borealis?

There are many reasons to visit Alaska, but one of the top reasons people flock to the state is to see the Northern Lights. If you want to see this magical display for yourself, the best time to visit Alaska is during Aurora Season, which runs from August 21 to April 21. If you plan your trip during this time frame, you have a great chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis in the night sky. But where are the best places to see the Aurora Borealis in Alaska? Keep reading to learn more!

Aurora borealis in the dark Alaskan sky

5 Fun Facts About The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights appear over Alaska quite frequently because the state is perfectly positioned under the Auroral Oval. This “oval” is a ring around the Earth’s magnetic poles, where the aurora is most visible. When solar winds interact with gases in the Earth’s magnetic field, the brilliant lights of the Aurora appear within the oval’s boundaries. As long as the sky is dark and clear, this brilliant display is visible to the naked eye.

  • During the spring and autumn months, weather conditions are generally more stable, which means Aurora sightings are more likely.
  • The dark night skies and longer evenings of the winter months offer the best conditions for Northern Lights viewing.
  • The Northern Lights generally appear between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., although the best sightings occur between 11 p.m. and midnight.
  • It is impossible to see the Aurora during daylight hours, except during the winter months when Alaska experiences almost 24 hours of darkness each day!
  • The Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day of the year, is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska.

An Aurora Adventure in Alaska’s Far North

North Americas aurora borealis in AlaskaAlaska’s Far North region is one of the best places to view the Aurora Borealis in Alaska.   Why? The answer is simple – location, location, location! Fairbanks, and all points north sit directly under the Aurora Oval. The lights begin at this latitude and spread north in a dazzling display of colors that light up the night sky. Fortunately, Fairbanks is easy to get to by plane, train, or car and is a great basecamp for your Arctic Aurora viewing adventures. Local tour companies offer exclusive Northern Lights viewing packages for visitors, as well as the opportunity to combine Aurora viewing experiences with other quintessentially Alaskan activities.

Here are three fun tours to consider in some of the best places to see the Aurora Borealis in Alaska:

Aurora Tour #1 – A Night On The Homestead

This tour leaves Fairbanks at 8 p.m. and returns you to your hotel or lodging around 3 or 4 a.m. Make sure you take a nap before you set out on this nocturnal adventure! Here are some of the highlights of this trip:

  • Set out with your guide along the historic Elliott Highway in a tour van. Along the way, your guide will point out key landmarks and other points of interest.
  • Cross over Wickersham Dome to a remote region of the countryside, where the stars light up the dark winter sky.
  • Arrive in Joy, Alaska at an Arctic Circle Trading Post, where you will be greeted with homestead hospitality and a blazing wood fire to ward off the night chill.
  • From here, your guide will regale you with the science behind the Aurora as well as some tall tales about the lights that have been passed down from generations before.
  • Enjoy the night with your fellow travelers as you wait for nature’s light show to appear!
  • Head back to Fairbanks in the comfort of a heated van after a long night scanning the skies for the Northern Lights.

Aurora Tour #2 – Arctic Circle Overnight Adventure

If you want an even more authentic Aurora adventure, consider a trip to Coldfoot, Alaska for your Northern Lights viewing. Coldfoot is one of the best places in Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis. Located in Alaska’s far north, Coldfoot can be reached by car along the Dalton Highway or – for instant gratification – by bush plane. This trip includes many other Alaskan activities, giving guests a unique view of life in Alaska’s Arctic region:

  • Travel to Coldfoot with your guide, who will entertain you with fascinating stories of Alaska’s Arctic. Travel along the famed Dalton highway through old mining areas and traverse the mighty Yukon River.
  • Upon crossing the Arctic Circle, you will receive an official “Arctic Circle Adventure” certificate.
  • Stop along the way to visit the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. At 800 miles long, this is one of the world’s largest oil pipeline systems. TAPS transports oil from Prudhoe Bay, on Alaska's North Slope, to Valdez, on the shores of Prince William Sound in southcentral Alaska.
  • Arrive in Coldfoot Camp, at the perimeter of Alaska’s Brooks Mountain Range. Your guide will prepare you for the evening’s Aurora activities.
  • On the second day of this trip, enjoy an early morning flyover of the Brooks Mountain Range, where you can take in the unsullied wilderness of Alaska’s majestic mountain peaks.
  • Return to Fairbanks after experiencing one of the best places to view the Aurora Borealis in Alaska!

Aurora Tour #3 – A Round Trip Journey Across The Arctic Circle

This Aurora Viewing trip also uses Coldfoot as a basecamp, but includes several fun outings that make the most of your time in the Far North!

  • Travel along the Dalton Highway from Fairbanks to Coldfoot in a comfortable travel van. Along the way, enjoy stories of Alaska’s Arctic from your expert guide.
  • Stop at the Trans-Alaska pipeline to marvel at this modern engineering feat!
  • Take a quick break to walk along the banks of the mighty Yukon River.
  • Once you arrive in Coldfoot, travel to the historic community of Wiseman where you will tour an authentic Arctic Village
  • Set up for a night of Aurora viewing with your expert guide!
  • After a night of Aurora viewing, you will have the opportunity to sign up for a few winter experiences – snowshoeing, a fat tire bike adventure, or an afternoon of dogsledding, Experience Alaska’s great outdoors with a few uniquely Alaskan Activities.

An Aurora Adventure To Remember

The best place in Alaska to see the Aurora Borealis is in the Far North. Fortunately, it’s easy to get to this region from Fairbanks. Whether you choose a single-night viewing experience or sign up for a few fun activities to complement your Northern Lights viewing tour, the possibilities are endless. Happy Aurora Hunting – the adventure is on!

Download all three Alaska tour brochures for tour dates and pricing.