What Is The Best Time To Visit Anchorage, Alaska To See The Northern Lights?

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Summer Trips To Alaska
Grizzlies & Glaciers Tour

Winter Trips To Alaska
See The Northern Lights

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Planning Your Alaska Aurora Sighting Tour

Aurora Borealis sight seeing in tentWhen is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska? The Northern Lights Alaska schedule is similar across the state, which means that Aurora Season is the same no matter where you travel! The best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is mid-August through mid-April, as long as the skies are clear and conditions are right. These few months are the only time in Alaska that the skies are dark enough to see the Northern Lights during the year, even above the Arctic Circle!

Because Anchorage is such a popular destination for travelers, many people want to make sure an Aurora sighting is part of their trip! If this is the case, you want to make sure that you plan your vacation during the fall and winter months! Winter is the prime viewing time and is easily considered one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska too! Just remember that the sky needs to be clear and dark to see this natural phenomenon.

Can You See The Northern Lights In Alaska in May?

Many people want to know if they will see the Northern Lights in May in Alaska if they plan a trip in the early spring. Unfortunately, the answer is no! As the sunlight and warmer days return to Alaska, your chances of seeing the Northern Lights slowly decrease. The nights become shorter and the days become longer, giving way to the phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun!

The Midnight Sun, which is also known as the polar day, refers to an extended period of daytime that lasts 24 hours or more. This unusual happening takes place in or near the Arctic and Antarctic regions during the summer months. Simply put, at the height of summer, Alaska never gets truly dark! This means that conditions are not favorable for an Aurora viewing. So, although spring is a great time to visit Alaska for many other activities, you cannot see the Northern Lights in May in Alaska.

Scheduling Your Northern Lights Tour In Anchorage

If seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, you’ll need to time your visit to Anchorage just right. To maximize your chances of an Aurora sighting, follow the Northern Lights in Alaska schedule that we’ve listed below:

  • January – during this month, the chances of you seeing the Northern Lights are good! However, there is always a chance of cloud cover due to winter storms. So, you have to be persistent in your attempts to see the Northern Lights
  • February – this month is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in Alaska! Aurora activity is high, which means a sighting is practically guaranteed.
  • March – this late winter month may be the BEST time to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska. Aurora activity is at its peak during the month, and the skies are usually clear.
  • April – the first month of Alaska’s spring brings with it the chance of an Aurora sighting, but the nights are starting to grow shorter, which decreases your chances overall.
  • May – seeing the Northern Lights in May in Alaska is very unlikely. This is not a good month to visit if an Aurora sighting is your primary goal.
  • June through August – the low aurora activity and sun means that you will not be able to see the Northern Lights in Alaska during the summer months.
  • September – the fall equinox is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in the Alaska sky!
  • October – the early winter season is one of the best times to see the Northern Lights in the night sky! Aurora activity is high during October and the skies are usually clear.
  • November – although the Aurora activity is cooling off, there is still a high probability of seeing the Northern Lights during this month.
  • December – winter storms and less aurora activity mean that the chances of seeing the Northern Lights have decreased, although a sighting is still possible.
birght shades of green and blue aurora sightings in log cabin

Aurora Sightings In Anchorage

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska. It also is home to many cultural sights, museums, and other fascinating tourist attractions! This means that most travelers are bound to visit the bustling city at least once during their trip, no matter the season. If you time your visit to coincide with high Aurora activity, Anchorage is a great place to see the Northern Lights. Here are some of the most popular places to see this phenomenon near the city. (Please note, you will need to rent a car to reach many of these places!)

  • Beluga Point – south of Anchorage, along the Turnagain Arm.
  • Potter Valley – if you don’t want to drive up into the Chugach Mountains, this lower-lying area still has a good view of the Northern Lights.
  • Flattop – the view from the top of this hiking trail offers an amazing view of the Northern Lights!
  • Hiland Road – this road winds its way up the mountainside to offer spectacular views of the Aurora Borealis in the night sky.
  • Point Woronzof – if you want to stay inside the city limits, this area offers you a fair view of the Northern Lights.

Getting Outside Of The City Limits

If you’ve planned your visit to coincide with the best time to see the Northern Lights in Anchorage, Alaska, you’ll want to make sure that you know WHERE to see the Northern Lights! Anchorage offers visitors a variety of places to view this natural phenomenon, but if you want to get away from the crowd, Eagle River is another option! Nestled on the edge of the Chugach Mountains just north of Anchorage is the small community of Eagle River. The area was settled in the 1930s, and is now home to 10,000 people. If you follow the Seward Highway north for approximately 13 miles, you will find this quaint little suburb. Eagle River features lodging and other amenities for travelers, and better yet – it features some great places for Aurora sightings!

  • Beach Lake – this popular viewing spot is far enough away from the light pollution of Anchorage that it offers great views of the Northern Lights.
  • Eagle River Visitor Center – perfect for the less adventurous, the visitor center has viewing decks that allow visitors to comfortably view the aurora in the night sky.
  • Mirror Lake – a perfect spot for winter viewing! If the lake is frozen, you can walk out a bit and get an unobstructed view of the night sky.
  • Baldy – this popular hiking trail sits above Skyline Drive. You can either hike up the trail to find a good viewing spot or look over the Knik Arm to see the aurora in the night sky.

If you visit Eagle River during the spring, you’ll be able to enjoy a day of white-water rafting. This small city is a popular destination for outdoor activities along its river, and many outfitters offer excursions for visitors. Or, you can visit the Eagle River Nature Center during the day for a naturalist program, a hike, or the chance to spot Dall sheep on the mountainside. It’s the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of Anchorage.

Now that you have the Northern Lights Alaska schedule in hand, you can start planning your trip. Just remember, the late summer through early spring is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska. You won’t be able to see the Northern Lights in May in Alaska or during the summer months. There will be plenty of other things to do and see, but if seeing the Northern Lights top your list make sure to go during Aurora Season.

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