Nothing compares to the awe-inspiring lights of the Aurora Borealis, or the “Northern Lights”. The science behind the phenomenon is fascinating, and for many seeing these magnificent lights is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Fall and winter are the best seasons to witness the Northern Lights, so we recommend bundling up and heading north on a camping trip you’ll never forget. Here are some of the best places to go Northern Lights camping in North America:
In northern Washington, just east of Seattle, the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is one of the few locations in the lower 48 to glimpse the Northern Lights. Head to Artist Point by driving the Mt. Baker Scenic Byway for a chance at the view in the photo above. After a heavy snowfall, Artist Point is not accessible, so it’s best to visit in late fall or early winter.
The ideal place to see the Aurora Borealis on the eastern coast of the U.S. is Maine. Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge is located in the northernmost county in Maine and offers an opportunity to see the Northern Lights dance across the sky. The park is also a great place to spot wild moose.
Only 20 miles south of Canada, Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge is an option for seeing the Northern Lights, particularly when it’s cold out. Rangers at the refuge suggest following an aurora tracker online, then driving to their parking lot. This open area provides a breathtaking view of the stars year-round, and the Northern Lights when conditions are right.
Devil’s Lake State Park is a great travel destination year-round, but traveling during the winter is best for Northern Lights viewing. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are available within the park. Campgrounds are available on both the north and south shores of Devil’s Lake, but we recommend staying on the south side in hopes of viewing the Aurora Borealis reflected on the water.
Alaska & Canada
In Anchorage, the Northern Lights can typically be seen throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons. For campers, fall may be the best time to visit, since many campgrounds are closed during the harsh winters. We recommend viewing the lights from the Eagle River area, either camping at Eagle River Campground or staying in a cabin or yurt at Eagle River Nature Center.
If you’re in the Yellowknife area, there’s no better place to view the Northern Lights than Aurora Village. Late night excursions are offered to the village, where you’ll enjoy a view of the Aurora Borealis from heated seats and glowing teepees.
There’s no shortage of Northern Lights Tours in Fairbanks, Alaska. Fairbanks is the largest city in inland Alaska, and it’s remote, northern location makes it an ideal destination for stargazing and seeing the aurora. For RV and campgrounds nearby, we recommend the Chena River State Recreation Site, which is just outside of Fairbanks.
Whitehorse is the capital of the Yukon, making it one of the best places to visit to see the Northern Lights. This popular destination offers tons of aurora-focused travel packages to choose from. Even better, there are many quality government-operated campgrounds that are perfectly situated for Northern Lights viewing.
Can you imagine seeing the Northern Lights dance over Mt. McKinley? Well, if you visit Denali National Park during the winter, you can! This incredible national park offers six campgrounds, but only Riley Creek is open year-round. We recommend reserving a spot in advance. If you’d like to see the lights, plus enjoy outdoor recreation, visiting one of our nation’s national parks is a great option.