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Where Is The Best Place To See The Northern Lights In Anchorage, Alaska?
Anchorage is Alaska’s gateway to Adventure. From its cosmopolitan and cultured downtown area, you can find glaciers, wildlife, parks, trails, and the Northern Lights just outside the city limits. Anchorage offers visitors the best of both worlds, combining bustling city life with outdoor adventure in the nearby Chugach Mountains.
Five Fun Facts About Anchorage
Located in Southcentral Alaska, Anchorage sits at the terminus of the Cook Inlet, on a peninsula formed by the Knik Arm to the north and the Turnagain Arm to the south. Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city, with a population of nearly 300,000 people – more than 40 percent of Alaska’s entire population! Here are a few more fun facts about this amazing city:
- Anchorage is the northernmost city in the United States.
- Anchorage is home to more than humans! The wildlife population of this city includes bears, moose, wolves, lynx, foxes, and more. More than 1,500 moose live in the area and are known to stop traffic quite regularly.
- Anchorage is not as cold as you may think. The main body of the Pacific Ocean (which begins a few hundred miles away from the downtown area) moderates the city’s climate.
- However, if you are interested in seeing a glacier, you’re in luck – more than 50 glaciers can be found within a day’s drive of Anchorage.
- Anchorage is culturally diverse! Currently, there are approximately 100 languages spoken in the Anchorage School District. After English, the primary languages are Spanish, Hmong, Samoan, Tagalog, and Yup’ik.
Can You See The Northern Lights In Anchorage?
Many people want to check off a Northern Lights sighting from their bucket list. The good news is that one of the best places to see the Northern Lights is in Anchorage, Alaska! Anchorage is easy to get to, with flights arriving daily from more than two dozen national and international cities. And with Aurora season running from mid-August to mid-April, it’s easy to schedule an Aurora-hunting vacation that fits into your busy schedule!
If you make Anchorage your base camp for Northern Lights viewing, there are a few things you should know. Seeing the Northern Lights can depend on everything from weather conditions to the presence of man-made light, so make sure you set up in a location that is known for clear, dark skies. The good news, however, is that you won’t have to travel far from Downtown Anchorage to find a prime Aurora viewing location! Here is a list of the top five locations near Downtown Anchorage that are perfect for Northern Lights viewing!
- Anchorage’s Downtown Viewpoint – this location is a favorite destination for scenic views of the Anchorage city skyline against the Chugach Mountain Range during the day and the Northern Lights by night. Located just 4.2 miles west of the Seward Highway, the viewpoint is a gravel parking area west of Northern Lights Boulevard and Postmark Drive.
- Glen Alps – this trailhead is the highest elevation point for Aurora Viewing above the City. To get there, take the Seward Highway to O’Malley Road and drive toward the mountains. Turn left on Upper Huffman Road and then follow Toilsome Road to its end, where you will find the entrance to the Glen Alps trailhead. Some people say this is the best place to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska, but we will let you decide for yourself!
- Point Woronzof – located on the northwestern edge of the city, Point Woronzof is perched on a northwest-facing bluff 120 feet above Knik Arm. This area is known for beach access and a great view of Mount Denali. But it also offers a wide-open view to the Northern sky, which makes for some incredible Northern Lights viewing!
- Beluga Point – this little wayside stop along the Seward Highway will give you an incredible view of the Kenai Mountains and the tidal flats of the Turnagain Arm. It is one of the best places to watch for beluga whales during the day, but it offers up equally stunning views of the Northern Lights by night. If you want to capture the lights against the sea, the mountains, and the sky, this place is a photographer’s dream!
- Eagle River Nature Center – the nature center sits at the end of Eagle River Road, at the entrance point to Chugach State Park. To reach the center, you will climb 1,800 feet into the Chugach Mountains. The vista is spectacular and rivals the Glen Alps Overlook for its panoramic view of the northern sky – and the Northern Lights.
Other Ways To See The Northern Lights In Anchorage
The Aurora Season spans most of the year in Alaska. If you are planning a trip to see the Northern Lights, just make sure it falls between the months of August and April! That way, you can increase your chances of seeing the Aurora in the night sky. There are a variety of ways to see the Northern Lights, especially in Anchorage. It’s easy to venture out on your own from the city, but what if you want to stay at a luxury resort or take a guided Northern Lights tour? We’ve listed three popular options below:
- Alyeska Resort – located 40 miles from Anchorage, the Alyeska Resort sits amid the Chugach Mountains in the town of Girdwood. This luxury resort offers guests Northern Lights wake-up calls when the Aurora is active. The winter trail system leads visitors to a meadow, where they can view the Northern Lights against the backdrop of the mountains. The resort is also popular with outdoor enthusiasts, so plan to spend daylight hours skiing, hiking, or snowshoeing!
- Anchorage Northern Lights Tours – one of the best places to see the Northern Lights is in Anchorage, Alaska. With Northern Lights viewing such a popular activity, many tour operators offer guided tours for visitors wanting to see the Aurora. These tour guides have the experience to pick the best locations for Northern Lights viewing based on the local weather forecast, aurora strength, and driving distance from Anchorage. If you reserve a spot with a company that offers guided tours, you will get picked up at your Anchorage hotel and travel comfortably to the night’s viewing location! During the tour, your guide can provide information on the Aurora as well as basic photography instruction. You’ll even enjoy a snug shelter, snacks, and hot drinks before returning from your Aurora-viewing adventure!
- Specialized photography tours – if capturing the Northern Lights on film (or digitally) is your goal, finding a tour operator that offers a Northern Lights photo tour is the way to go. These tours often travel to multiple locations in one night, so that you can take a variety of shots. Many of these tours include guides that are professional photographers, and who can provide the creative and technical instruction that will help you capture an incredible souvenir of your trip. Some tour operators even will rent aspiring photographers a camera for the duration of the tour.
A Northern Lights Adventure in Anchorage
Now that you know the best places to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska, you will be able to plan your Aurora-viewing adventure. As long as you include several nights of Northern Lights viewing in your travel itinerary, you should see the Aurora in the night sky. And as an added bonus, you can enjoy exploring Anchorage and all this amazing city has to offer by day!