Is seeing the aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, on your bucket list of things to do before you die? Well, seeing the majestic lights is easier than imagined on a trip to Alaska. The 49th state’s northern regions like Fairbanks and Nome are perfect for aurora viewing and you don’t even need a passport! Here are the ten best places to catch the shimmering lights in “The Last Frontier.”
Go To These 7 Places To See The Northern Lights In Alaska
Just 150 miles south of the Arctic Circle, the city of Fairbanks is ideal for Northern Lights viewing with its latitude below the oval of the lights. Getting to Fairbanks is easy with the Fairbanks International Airport and many lodges and activities in the area. Tours can take you to viewing areas like Murphy Dome or Chena Lake, or you can rent a four-wheel drive car and chase the lights yourself. Tip: Check the University of Alaska Fairbanks’s geophysical institute aurora forecast before and during your trip and the local weather! It can get quite cold in northern Alaska!
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2. Denali National Park
Between Anchorage and Fairbanks is Denali National Park, known for the highest mountain peak in North America, Denali, as well as being a perfect place to see the Northern Lights. With no light pollution and only a 3-hour drive south of Fairbanks, you’re likely to spot the auroras here. Be sure to bring a good tripod and camera and keep an eye out for moose and other wildlife!
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The remote town of Nome, Alaska is a great place to be dazzled by the Northern Lights and see what it’s like to live in rural Alaska. If you happen to visit in March, Nome is where the famous Iditarod Sled Dog Race ends. This two-week long race starts in Anchorage and goes over 950 miles through the state of Alaska. Flights from Alaska Airlines are available from Anchorage daily to Nome.
Although Fairbanks is known as the best place to see the Northern Lights in Alaska, you can also get a pretty good show in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage. You may need to get a bit outside of the south coastal city to really see the lights, but guides like Salmon Berry Tours can take you to all the best spots. The best time to visit is in the months of September and March when the temperatures don't drop too far below zero!
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What better way to see the Northern Lights than on an Alaskan cruise to Juneau and other scenic ports! Holland America, Princess and other cruise lines offer Northern Lights cruises in the fall and early spring and can take you on a beautiful tour of southern Alaska. You may want to book some offshore accommodations to get a better chance of catching them on the trip.
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A truck stop in the Yukon Territory in northern Alaska happens to be a perfect place to spot the Northern Lights. Primarily serving as a truck stop, Coldfoot is known as a truck stop on the Dalton Highway (think Ice Road Truckers). Tours like the Arctic Circle Aurora Fly & Drive Adventures will get you to Coldfoot and keep you warm in a comfortable tour van for viewing opportunities. With Coldfoot being directly under the Aurora Oval, its a place that even scientists would recommend.
330 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the very top of the country’s largest state is the small town of Barrow, Alaska. Here you can take tours or simply look out your window for an Aurora show, but you’ll have to brave the frigid negative temperatures. The town is home to the native Inupiat culture where you can learn about and participate in traditional games of the Inupiat like dogsledding. Flights to Barrow are offered from Anchorage by Alaska Airlines.
This article was written by Taylor Bishop.