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What Is The Best Time to Visit Alaska For The Aurora?
If seeing the Northern Lights dance across Alaska’s night sky is on your bucket list, you’ve come to the right place! We have all the information you need to learn more about the winter Northern Lights in Alaska and the best time to visit Alaska for aurora viewing. Interested? Then keep reading to learn more!
Alaska’s Northern Lights Viewing Season
Although the Northern Lights occur all four seasons of the year, the aurora is more difficult to see during the summer months when the Midnight Sun extends daylight hours. The best time to view the Northern Lights in Alaska is between August and April when daylight gives way to darker night skies.
The northern lights occur all four seasons of the year, although they are harder to see under the Midnight Sun. The best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is between August and April, when less daylight leads to darker night skies. In fact, many aurora experts will tell you that the best time to watch the northern lights is during Alaska’s fall and winter months when the dark, cold night skies provide a perfect backdrop for this amazing spectacle. Many tour operators offer Alaska tours in December specifically geared toward aurora viewing.
Still not convinced that Alaska is the best place to see the Northern Lights? Here are our top three reasons why Alaska is in fact the best place!
- It’s easy to get to Alaska from the Lower 48! You can book nonstop flights to Anchorage year-round from all major U.S. hubs and can get there in just a few hours.
- Aurora viewing spans the fall and winter seasons. From mid-November through March (winter), you can combine your Northern Lights trip with daytime activities like ice-fishing or dogsledding. Alternatively, if you choose to seek the dancing lights from mid-August to mid-September (fall), there’s still time to enjoy a visit to Denali National Park or a glacier cruise.
- Your odds of seeing the Northern Lights are great! Visitors who spend three nights looking for the aurora borealis near Fairbanks have a 90 percent chance of spotting them.
Where Can You See The Northern Lights In Alaska?
Now that you know when the best time to visit Alaska for aurora viewing is, you’ll need to figure out where you should go! The main auroral band, which is the ring of geomagnetic particles around the Arctic Circle where the Northern Lights are most visible, hovers above the Alaska Range. This means that Fairbanks and all points north are the perfect spots for winter Northern Lights in Alaska. Fairbanks is one of the best places for a northern lights adventure due to its auroral activity, winter darkness, and most importantly the wide range of tours and activities that cater to Northern Lights viewing. Some of these specialty tour packages include:
- Viewing the Northern Lights from a heated cabin
- Watching the lights dance across the sky from a yurt
- Chasing the aurora on an overnight dog sled expedition
- Combining a nighttime ice fishing adventure with aurora viewing
- Taking a flightseeing tour above the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights
If you’re interested in taking the perfect souvenir photo of the Northern Lights, you’re in luck! Many tours train guides to show visitors how to take photographs of the Northern Lights or will take a photograph of you as the aurora dances in the background.
The Best Place For Alaska Tours In December
One of the most popular places near Fairbanks for aurora adventures is the Chena Hot Springs Resort. Located just 65 miles northeast of Fairbanks, the resort is known around the world for being one of the best places on Earth to see the Northern Lights. Chena Hot Springs sits under the most active band of the Northern Lights, is away from the light pollution of the city, and boasts clear nighttime skies that are perfect for aurora viewing.
The historic hot springs were discovered in 1905 by two gold miners. The natural mineral hot springs have made the resort a year-round destination for visitors from all over the world. During their visit, travelers can relax and rejuvenate in the hot springs and pools, enjoy the resort’s amenities, or take part in numerous outdoor activities like cross-country skiing, dogsledding tours, snow machining, and more! They can even visit the Aurora Ice Museum next door, which features fantastic ice sculptures and an ice bar that serves chilled Appletinis. Then, at night, you can take in the world-class aurora viewing!
How To Guarantee An Aurora Sighting
While the best time to visit Alaska for aurora viewing is December, seeing the Northern Lights can sometimes be elusive. However, there are a few tips and tricks to help ensure that you will have an aurora sighting during your bucket list trip. Here are three ways to make sure that you will see this natural phenomenon:
- Keep an eye on the statewide aurora forecast.
- Sign up for the Fairbanks aurora tracker. This will help you monitor aurora activity, letting you know when a sighting is most likely to occur.
- Book yourself on a guided Northern Lights viewing tour! Let the experts take you to the best viewing destinations in Alaska and enjoy the extras (like warming huts and hot chocolate) that a formal tour includes.
Gondwana Ecotours offers Alaska tours in December for Aurora viewing. These tours include seven nights near Fairbanks and personal wake-up services when the auroras are active. Two expert Alaskan guides will accompany you on the tour, and you can enjoy day trips to Chena Hot Springs, a dog sledding tour, a trip to Reindeer Ranch, and more.
Now that you know when the best time to visit Alaska for aurora viewings is, what are you waiting for? December is just around the corner, so book now! You won’t regret the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the Northern Lights in Alaska’s winter sky.