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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Where Do I See The Northern Lights In Alaska?
Many people think that you have to travel to Canada or Scandinavia to see the Northern Lights. However, you can spot this phenomenon without leaving the United States! Alaska is one of the best Northern Lights viewing destinations in the world! It may be cold in the winter, but the inland Alaskan Arctic is the perfect place to see this famous light show.
The Science Behind The World’s Best Light Show
The Northern Lights are caused by solar activity. During the early part of the solar cycle, known as solar minimum, there is a smaller chance of seeing these lights. However, as we move toward solar maximum, which will occur in 2025, the odds of seeing the northern lights will increase. The real trick to seeing the Northern lights is finding the right location and finding clear skies.
When Can I See The Northern Lights In Alaska?
The best Northern Lights viewing in Alaska falls between August and April when fewer daylight hours lead to darker night skies. This is called “Aurora Season” in Alaska. It is worth noting that displays of these magnificent 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. Plus, there’s a higher likelihood of clear skies in Alaska during March. This means that March may just be the best month to plan an Aurora-viewing trip to Alaska!
On The Hunt For The Perfect Northern Lights Viewing Location
If you are planning your Alaskan vacation around the Northern Lights, you will need to figure out where to view the Northern Lights. The northern lights are best seen in Alaska between 65° N and 70° N latitude. If you're farther north in Talkeetna or Denali, Alaska's Interior, your chances improve. And if you're in Fairbanks or the Arctic, you have the best shot at witnessing the aurora. The region lies underneath the Auroral Oval, a ring-shaped zone where Northern Lights activity is concentrated. Typically, the farther north you go, the better chance you have.
If you’re still wondering “Where do I see the Northern Lights,” keep reading! We’ve listed some of the best places to see this amazing phenomenon below.
- Fairbanks – the old gold rush town of Fairbanks is the undisputed capital of Northern Lights viewing in America. Its popularity among Aurora chasers has to do mainly with its accessibility. There are frequent flights to points North for Aurora seekers, as well as backcountry locations within driving distance that are easy to get to and offer parking and other amenities to tourists. If you are truly on the hunt for the Aurora in Fairbanks, plan to spend at least three nights and get outside each night during prime viewing hours. Keep an eye on the University of Fairbanks Geophysical Institute’s Aurora Forecast and Explore Fairbanks’ Aurora Tracker for the most specific data on your chances of seeing the Northern Lights on a particular night.
- Coldfoot – some of the best Northern Lights viewing in Alaska is at Coldfoot. Once a gold mining settlement, this Arctic destination is now little more than a blip on the radar at 67° N latitude between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. However, if you want to know where to view the Northern Lights, this is a prime location to do it! Coldfoot Camp in the Brooks Mountain Range, which sits on the edge of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, attracts many Aurora adventure tours, as does Wiseman, which is located another 15 miles north. Coldfoot is 250 miles north of Fairbanks and 60 miles above the Arctic Circle.
- Utqiaġvik - this small town, formerly called Barrow, is on the extreme northern edge of Alaska at 71° N latitude. It is home to the Top of the World Hotel, which organizes tours and outdoor adventures connected to the Indigenous Iñupiat culture. During your stay, you can visit the Iñupiat Heritage Center to learn about bowhead whale hunting and traditional crafts. Alaska Airlines flies to the town's Wiley Post-Will Rogers Memorial Airport from Anchorage. Utqiaġvik’s far Northern location means dark skies for much of the winter season, which increases your chances of seeing the Northern Lights during a stay in this incredible location.
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve - spanning 13.2 million acres, this national park is the largest protected reserve in the United States. Travelers can bed down at the 14-person Ultima Thule Lodge for a wild adventure filled with glacier trekking, rafting, and fishing in Tebay Lake. Of course, the park’s location means plenty of opportunity to see the Northern Lights flicker across the sky, too!
A Northern Lights Viewing Adventure
Now that we’ve answered the question: “Where do I see the Northern Lights,” you can start packing! The best Northern Lights viewing in Alaska awaits you, so hurry. Adventure is calling and the lights are ready to light up the night sky.