My Travel Resolution.
discover hidden myths, taste diverse food and sleep below a sky full of shooting stars and galaxies every night
One of my favorite memories of Alaska is being outside on a clear night and seeing the Northern Lights. They are beautiful and it's a great way to spend a clear night; if it's not freezing! Among the most beautiful places in the world, Alaska is one of the stunning places to see the Northern Lights conveniently in a nice city, cute town or a stunning National Park!

At a latitude of 66-69 degrees north is the band across the globe known as the Aurora Zone or Northern Lights Zone. This is the ideal location to see the dance and beauty of the Northern Lights. These countries include, Canada, Norway, Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Scotland and Greenland. A lot of places to see Northern Lights!

The lights are the result of colliding, fast moving electrons in the magnetosphere and oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the upper atmosphere. The different colors are the result of whether the electrons collide with oxygen or nitrogen and with how much energy. Just because you can't always see the Lights doesn't mean they are not there. Apparently, they are always there, just not to the naked eye.

Sightings of the Aurora Borealis has been recorded as early as the 500's, even some ancient cave paintings believe to have depictions of this natural phenomenon. There's an app for that! The Aurora Forecast is a downloadable app that tracks such variables as solar rays, wind speed and density.

where to see northern lights in Alaska

1. Fairbanks


I spent time in Fairbanks at couple of different times and I was blessed to see some pretty amazing Northern Light displays. I mostly saw green and white Auroras - the most common colors of the Aurora Borealis.

You don't need to trek to some remote spot for Aurora viewing. Fairbanks is 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle and has many spots with no or low light pollution, so you don't need to go far to enjoy a evening light show! Since Fairbanks is a large city it's easy to find spot and tours to see this natural wonder!

Fairbanks has some top notch spots for easy and prime viewing, like Chena Lake and Murphy Dome. Tours are offered to these spots, renting a 4 wheel drive truck is another option if you are not a tour person. Hot Springs are a fantastic spot for getting a birds eye view of this stunning natural phenomenon.

Chena Hot Springs is 60 miles from Fairbanks and is to located under one of the most active of the Northern Light bands in the state. The resort offers some good choices of specialized Aurora tours.

Some Native's believe that if you whistle loud enough you can make them dance! I actually saw this once. We were outside of Fairbanks and it was dark, clear and not too cold. The Lights were green and very low to the ground with a big band. I was there with 3 of my friends who could all whistle-I still can't! Anyway, they whistled really loud and yea, they waved a little bit! It was cool.

2. Denali National Park


There aren’t too many national parks that have just one 92-mile-long road, most of which is closed for eight months of the year, and where rangers use dog-sleds to patrol nearly 9,500 square miles. Well that majestic park is Alaska’s Denali, home to the tallest mountain in North America.

Alaska has many beautiful national parks, Denali is one of the states outstanding gem! The park has no light pollution and it's altitude will afford many spectacular spots to see the Aurora Borealis. Bring your camera for the light show and the amazing animals! Nome and Barrow: These small towns are remote and frigid but you could simply look out your window to see the Northern Lights. Both towns have cultural and historical significance.

Lack of light pollution and a clear night are two of the most important elements when trying to optimize the viewing experience. The University of Fairbanks has a geophysical institute that has a aurora forecast that is an invaluable tool!

3. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve


The descent of the glaciers from the snowy peaks to the bay of the glaciers creates one of the best landscapes in the world to observe the creation of icebergs. The most famous glacier in the Glacier Bay Basin located on the Pacific Ocean coast of Alaska, is the Muir Glacier, 3 kilometers long and 80 meters thick. Until 1750 the bay was a huge glacier.

4. Sitka


Sitka is gorgeous and well worth visiting, containing a staggering 4,811.4 square miles of land and water! That's more than three times the size of Rhode Island! In fact, Sitka is larger than the land area of three U.S. states and territories - Rhode Island, Delaware, and Puerto Rico - and it’s virtually identical to the land area of Massachusetts!

Sitka’s city limits contain more than 143 times the land area of Manhattan, the well-known New York island. Sitka is larger than 40 different countries, surpassing each of the 40 smallest nations in the world including Singapore, Samoa, and Luxembourg!

5. Katmai National Park and Preserve


The Novarupta volcano on the Alaska Peninsula violently erupted and shook the area we now know as the Katmai National Park and Preserve. The wilderness became a dynamic landscape of smoking valleys, mountains covered with ash and small holes and cracks that gave off steam and gas. There was a single eruption in history, apart from this, on the Greek island of Santorini, in 1500 BC, which dismissed more ash and pumice.

Nature lovers with their cameras and fishermen with their rods have much to see and do in the Katmai National Park and Preserve, in the southern region of Alaska, on the Pacific, known as the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes and inhabited by grizzly bears. In this region of alpine tundra, forests, lakes, rivers and swamps is a very diverse fauna.

In addition to the bears and salmon at Brooks River, you can see moose, caribou, wolves, foxes, waterfowl, bald eagles, seals and whales. Katmai also hosts the wild river Alagnak and several large lakes. The Naknek Lake is the largest and contains the five species of Pacific salmon, as well as Rainbow trout, Char alpine fish, Arctic grayling and Northern pike, making the park a famous destination among recreational anglers.

Walk the park by boat or on foot, and always have the camera ready. This park is a reserve that protects an active volcanic landscape and is a very important habitat for salmon and thousands of brown bears that feed on these fish. Travel by kayak through the chain of lakes and rivers known as the Savonoski circuit, the picturesque American Creek River and the Savonoski Loop River fed by the glacier.

With no road connection to any city, Katmai requires additional planning, including costs and reservations in advance, in cases of extended visits. Packages of bear sightings to the park, including day trips, can be arranged from Kodiak, Homer and Anchorage.

Most people think of bears when they think of Katmai. This National Park is one of the best areas in the world for the sighting of bears. It is home to over 2,000 brown bears, many of which are concentrated in the Brooks Camp area to hunt red salmon in the Brooks River. You can take a short walk to reach three platforms along the river from which you can see how the bears dive to get their dinner.

Best Time to See Northern Lights in Alaska


The best time to see Northern Lights in Alaska is late August through early April, but the period between late September to February or March can be very cold in Alaska! September and October are also perfect time to see northern lights in Alaska and the Spring Thaw in late March or early April can be fun filled as well as Aurora viewing filled!

When planning a trip to Alaska to view the Northern Lights be aware that late night to early morning hours are the best (10pm-3am) and the darker the night the better your chances. The clearer the sky the better and understand that many light displays may only last a few minutes; although they may come back. Auroras will be more vivid and frequent during high solar activity and high sunspot activity.

The Northern Lights, like all of nature, is unpredictable and will not show up just because you will it. But with tips, science, and the right conditions you can experience this wonder of wonders!
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