Posted by on 13 Nov 2019 , in North America
The aurora borealis is an often elusive, enchanting phenomenon; As whimsical as the lights themselves, the aurora can disappear just as quickly as it shows up. Thankfully, with careful planning and preparation, you can seriously increase your odds of witnessing this spectacular display.
Named after the Roman goddess of dawn combined with the Greek name for north wind, the northern lights, as it's commonly known, occurs when the sun's electrically charged particles enter the Earth's atmosphere. This interaction sends streams of colours dancing across the night sky - making for a mesmerizing sight to behold.
The northern lights display is anything but ordinary. People from all over the world travel thousands of miles, looking for the perfect place only to get a glimpse. But with our travel specialists’ expertise, you can grab a front row seat to Earth’s natural light show at the best spots in Canada.
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Located directly under the aurora belt, a ring above the Earth’s Geomagnetic North Pole, the capital city of the Northwest Territories is one of the best, if not, the best place to watch the northern lights. Due to its flat landscape and low light pollution, Yellowknife grants you an unobstructed, open view of the sky. The lights appear most days of the year, and there are designated viewing spots specifically for the auroras - they even have a town called Aurora Village, a prime area dedicated to watching the northern lights. Settle at a cozy location at midnight and wait for swirls of colours to ignite the starry sky.
Best time to go: Mid-November to start of April
Although Whitehorse is a cosmopolitan city in the wilderness of Yukon, the northern lights are a regular visitor. You won't have to go too far out, only a couple of kilometres is enough to avoid the city lights. If you're not much for camping, there are lodges and cabins available for a comfortable viewing. When you're not waiting for the streaks of greens and purples to run across the sky, you can take advantage of the beautiful scenery or explore more of Whitehorse.
Best time to go: Late August to mid-April
Situated on the border of Hudson Bay is a town hailed as the "Polar Bear Capital of the World." Not only is it a great site for viewing the aurora, it also offers spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities, especially polar bears. right under the auroral zone, fluorescent displays of greens and blues are available up to 300 nights a year. With its thriving wildlife and landscape, Churchill is an ideal holiday trip for checking off multiple items from that ultimate bucket list.
Best time to go: January to March
Far away from all the light pollution, Jasper offers one of the best unobstructed views of the northern lights. Its national park is the second largest dark-sky preserve in the world, allowing for a bright and vivid spectacle of the natural phenomenon. It’s also an ideal location for stargazing - they hold a Dark Sky Festival every October where you can learn about the constellations and listen to native songs while waiting for the aurora.
Best time to go: October to May
Approaching the borders of Alaska, the city of Dawson is a fascinating destination for many reasons. Preserving much of its history, this nostalgic town will transport you back to a time reminiscent of the wild west. Amidst the quiet surroundings, it’s an ideal getaway for those who want a little peace while admiring the decorated sky. If you’re looking to find a more scenic spot, head atop the Midnight Dome viewpoint for a spectacular view of the city while the neon lights dance up above. You can choose to hike or drive to get to the top, but however you get there, the view is worth it.
Best time to go: Late August to early April