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Best Places to See the Northern Lights in North America

Posted on 26-Oct-2015

The Northern Lights are one of nature's greatest displays. Dancing hues of green, purple and pink transform the sky into a spectacular light show - but one that is typically only visible in certain parts of the world, and at certain times of year. The autumn and winter months in North America provide particularly picturesque displays; here are our favourite places to see nature's greatest light show.


Northern Lights 1

Photo credit: iStock

Alaska is a feast for the eye no matter when you visit. This wild, dramatic land is characterised by vast icebergs, pristine forests and fascinating wildlife. Once the sun goes down, turn your eyes towards the sky and you may just be lucky enough to see the Northern Lights. Be prepared to stay up late - in this part of the world, you're more likely to see them closer to midnight.

Typically, the best time of year to see the Aurora Borealis, as the lights are also known, is winter, though in Alaska and parts of Canada it is possible to catch them in the autumn too. Of course, one thing to remember is that there is never any guarantee you will see the lights - they keep to nature's mysterious schedule, not our own.

Fortunately, trying to see the Northern Lights is an adventure in itself - especially in Alaska. As well as spending your nights staring up at the stars, you can fill your days with the experiences of a lifetime in this glorious untamed wilderness. Embark on an adventure cruise, for instance, and you will have the chance to hike through beautiful forests, kayak around icebergs, and spot whales and other wildlife in Frederick Sound.


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The Yukon

Northern Lights 2

Photo credit: iStock

One of Canada's smallest territories, the Yukon is rich in natural wonders. Not only is it home to Canada's tallest mountain, Mount Logan, but it is also among the country's best places to observe the Northern Lights. As is the case in Alaska, the lights can be seen here through autumn and winter (the region's subarctic climate means it has particularly long winters), with midnight being the prime time to view them.

This sparsely populated area has an absence of light pollution that makes it particularly well suited to observing the sky, though its climate means you need to wrap up particularly warm when you do so. Feeling the chill air in your lungs and on your skin as you watch the Northern Lights dance above you is an utterly unforgettable experience.

When you are not waiting patiently for the Aurora Borealis to appear, you will have the opportunity to explore what else the Yukon has to offer. Among the highlights is Kluane National Park, which is peppered with imposing mountains and dramatic glaciers, not to mention a host of exciting birdlife (including bald eagles).


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Northern Lights in Churchill

Photo credit: iStock

Few destinations possess the charm and variety of Canada, with its stunning mountains, wealth of winter sports possibilities, astonishing wildlife and dazzling cities. So, it will be little surprise to hear that this is also one of North America's top spots for viewing the Northern Lights. The town of Churchill is especially good for seeing the lights, thanks to its arctic tundra location. Indeed, it is one of North America's best Northern Lights hotspots.

However, it is perhaps even more famous for its polar bear population, with approximately 900 of these white giants calling the place home. This means a trip here can not only introduce you to the greatest wonder of the sky, but also present you with the opportunity of encountering one of the most beautiful arctic creatures on the planet - a truly incredible combination.


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Topics: Canada, Alaska