2021 is the year for curious travellers as people are set with their off-beat travel bucket lists. Travel trends to look forward to in the next year include exploring nature and the outdoors.
One such adventure remains to chase the Northern Lights, not many are aware of the various destinations in the USA where one can witness this enthralling natural phenomenon. Also called Aurora Borealis, it is a naturally occurring dance of lights in the sky which occurs when solar particles collide with atmospheric gases to produce a neon light. Here are the best spots across the USA for some aurora-watching.
Spend a night or two devoted to viewing the magical and captivating sight of the northern lights at Denali National Park and Preserve. Its wide-open spaces, beautiful mountain vistas and abundant wildlife make the park a favourite destination for campers and hikers. There is much to see and do in the first national park, established in 1917 as Mount McKinley National Park and renamed Denali National Park in 1980 as it tripled in size.
Alaska's second-largest city, Fairbanks, a 2-hour drive from the park, also sees some amazing light shows, thanks to its location in the auroral oval, an area around the North Pole. Its distance from the lit city life, in turn, a higher probability of dark skies, further strengthens the display
The Idaho Panhandle National Forest is one of the best places in Idaho to maximize the chances of viewing the dancing auroras. Its total area is an impressive 2.5 million acres making it famous for activities like skiing, hunting, and snowmobiling in winters, as well as popular peak season activities including wildlife watching, hiking, biking, fishing, and swimming.
A popular vacation spot all year round for its many recreational opportunities, Priest Lake in northern Idaho, also has the perfect conditions for spotting the Northern Lights. Light chasers and photographers each year flock to the lake during winters to take a snapshot of the auroras, often reflected in the water's still surface.
The sparsely populated Aroostook County, which is located on the US-Canadian border, makes for a perfect spot for sky watching in Maine. Although the northern lights are more common near the Arctic, this county is far enough north for the aurora borealis to make an appearance. There's little to no light pollution near the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge, thus, ensuring that you have an incredible light show. The refuge includes more than 2,100 hectares of wetlands, forest and grasslands home to wildlife such as black bears and moose. Reserve a spot in one of the county's many campgrounds to experience the wilderness of Maine.
The night sky is one of the biggest tourist attractions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula as almost the entire 51,000 square miles offers front row seats to some of the most stellar shows on earth. Thanks to the prime geographic location and relatively low light pollution, the Upper Peninsula provides some of the best northern lights viewing opportunities in the state. Favourite destinations include Whitefish Point or Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, Brockway Mountain in Copper Harbor and Isle Royale National Park accessible from Houghton or Copper Harbor. In the Upper Peninsula, you are more likely to see the Northern Lights between August and April, with the peak months being April, October, and November.
There are plenty of locations to see the Northern Lights in Minnesota. Located on the northeastern tip of the state, along the shores of Lake Superior, Cook County is an especially great spot from which to view the aurora. In Grand Portage, the northern lights can be spotted dancing above High Falls, the tallest waterfall in the state of Minnesota. Oberg Mountain in the Superior National Forest is another place to capture the stunning views of the aurora. Stargazers are in for a treat here as Superior's Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is world-recognised for its starry night sky.