The Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights is a colorful light phenomenon that’s visible in areas close to the north pole. Each year, this ethereal rainbow of lights draw tourists and outdoors lovers from around the world to cold northern areas like Alaska and upper Canada where the lights are clearly visible.
But what if you want to see the Northern Lights, but can’t make it all the way to Alaska? Luckily, it turns out there’s more than a few different places in the US where the lights are still visible. Here’s a list of some closer destinations where you might catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights this winter.
Panhandle National Forest, Idaho
Idaho might have a reputation for being flat farm country, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Panhandle National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the trails of the Selkirk Mountains, where pristine mountain lakes and lush forests create a picturesque setting. After a day of hiking, you can relax in a lodge by the shores of Lake Pend Oreille and watch the Northern Lights reflect off the water.
Cook County, Minnesota
In Cook County, Minnesota, the Northern Lights are just the beginning of your adventure. Take a scenic drive along the North Shore of Lake Superior, marveling at the rugged coastline and iconic Split Rock Lighthouse. For a closer connection with nature, embark on the Superior Hiking Trail, offering breathtaking views of waterfalls, forests, and, of course, the dancing lights.
Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Michigan's Upper Peninsula captivates with its raw beauty. Explore the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior, where colorful sandstone cliffs meet the pristine waters. In winter, hit the slopes at Mount Bohemia for skiing and snowboarding in a snow-covered landscape. Don't miss the chance to experience the local culture in small towns like Marquette, where the vibrant arts scene and friendly locals add a touch of warmth to your adventure.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota offers a unique water-focused wilderness experience. You can travel through interconnected waterways on a houseboat or canoe, exploring the park's numerous islands. Take a voyage into the Kabetogama Peninsula, where secluded campsites offer a front-row seat to the Aurora Borealis reflecting on the surface of the park's pristine lakes. This is a Northern Lights experience that seamlessly combines water and adventure.
Adirondacks, New York
The Adirondacks in Northeastern New York are a popular destination for many outdoors-lovers. You can hike the High Peaks for a panoramic view of the mirror-like lakes and dense forests. After a day of exploration, immerse yourself in the charm of Lake Placid, a picturesque village known for its Olympic history and vibrant atmosphere. The Northern Lights, when they appear, add a celestial touch to the already magical Adirondack landscape.
Lubec, Maine, is not just a vantage point for the Northern Lights but a destination with its own unique coastal atmosphere. You can explore the iconic West Quoddy Head Lighthouse, perched on the easternmost point of the United States. Or wander along the Bold Coast Scenic Byway, where dramatic cliffs meet the Atlantic Ocean. Lubec's maritime charm and the occasional Northern Lights display make for an unforgettable coastal experience.