PRIVATE & SMALL GROUP TOURS TO THE WORLD'S BEST DESTINATIONS
Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Chasing The Northern Lights In Alaska
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are a spectacular natural phenomenon that can be seen in the night sky above Alaska during certain times of the year. This phenomenon is caused by a reaction of ionized particles in the atmosphere near the Earth’s poles. The pulsating lights of green, blue, yellow, and pink have captured the imaginations of many tourists, who consider viewing the Northern Lights in Alaska a bucket list item!
When Is The Best Time To See The Northern Lights?
Alaska’s Aurora Season runs from August 21 to April 21. This is the best time of year to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. Scientifically speaking, the Aurora is dancing in the sky year-round. However, it is only visible during Aurora Season when the sky is dark. During the winter, Alaska experiences fewer daylight hours. Some parts of the state are blanketed in darkness almost 24 hours a day! This makes the winter season a popular time for Alaska Aurora viewing. As long as the skies are clear and there is no precipitation, Aurora chasers have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights during their visit.
Five Fun Facts About The Aurora Borealis
The Northern Lights have captured the imaginations of people all across the world. Here are five fun facts about this natural phenomenon you may not know.
- The Northern Lights are listed among the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, along with the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, Rio de Janeiro, Victoria Falls, and Niagra Falls.
- You can hear the Northern Lights! If you stand quietly on a winter night, you may be able to hear the lights crackling, snapping, hissing, and popping like static. This phenomenon occurs because super-heated particles from the sun crash into the frigid air above Alaska!
- The Aurora can be predicted. By watching the sun to see unusual activities like flares, scientists can predict aurora borealis a few days in advance. This is especially helpful for those who plan on viewing the Northern Lights during their Alaska vacation.
- Different colors of Aurora occur at different altitudes. Usually, Auroras appear as a greenish-whitish glow, but often a red layer appears above that, and occasionally the green layer ends in purple below. Different concentrations of certain gases occur at various altitudes, causing the layers of colors we see during an Aurora sighting.
- Auroras can appear in the lower regions of the Southern Hemisphere like Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Chile. This phenomenon is known as the Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights.
In What Part Of Alaska Can You See The Northern Lights?
Alaska Aurora viewing is something special! Alaska is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights because much of the state is located under the Auroral Oval. This ring sits above the Earth at the 65-70° north and south latitudes, where the Aurora are most active. Fairbanks, Alaska sits right below the Auroral Oval, making it one of the best places in Alaska for viewing the Northern Lights. However, there are many other good places to search the sky for the Auroras in Alaska. Our top five Aurora viewing spots are listed below.
- Anchorage – although not as far North as Fairbanks, Anchorage offers visitors some great opportunities to see the Aurora. In general, you will probably be able to spot the phenomenon a little lower in the sky than you would if you were farther North. Head out of the city to Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, Flattop Overlook, or Glenn Alps for a chance at some spectacular borealis action in the night sky.
- Fairbanks – as mentioned above, Fairbanks is one of the best places for Alaska Aurora viewing. Its location below the Auroral Oval makes it a prime spot for Northern Lights viewing and for a variety of uniquely Alaskan outdoor activities. For the best Aurora viewing in Fairbanks, visit Chena Lake Recreation Area, Chena Hot Springs Resort, Chena River State Recreation Area, Murphy Dome, Cleary Summit, or the North Pole!
- Denali National Park – with more than six million acres of pristine land and almost zero light pollution, Denali National Park is the answer to the question “In what part of Alaska can you see the Northern Lights?” One of the best ways to see the Northern Lights is to reserve a room in a hotel or lodge near the park. Since the Northern Lights can be temperamental and aren’t always visible, this will give you the best chance at catching an unobstructed view when they do appear. Many lodges will also ring an alarm—or give you a wake-up call if you’ve requested one—if the Auroras suddenly appear overhead.
- Barrow – located at the extreme Northern edge of Alaska, Barrow is 330 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where the Northern Lights put on a spectacular show for those willing to brave the cold. Alaska Aurora viewing in Barrow means that you’ll fly in, so staying long enough to explore the local Inupiat culture is a must.
- Nome – if you head to Nome during the tail end of Aurora Season, you will be able to watch one of the most incredible athletic events in the world. Nome is the official finish line of the Iditarod, but the city spends the two weeks preceding the race celebrating the dogs and their handlers. If you’re looking for a Mardi Gras-type experience in the Frozen North, consider making Nome part of your Aurora viewing expedition.
An Excellent Adventure Up North
Visiting Alaska during the Aurora Season is a truly magical experience. With Aurora viewing at its peak during the night and plenty of other fun places to explore during the day, the state offers a whirlwind adventure for the traveler looking to experience it all. So grab your winter parka and favorite coffee mug – you’ll need an extra cup of energy for your Alaska adventure!