Alaska’s Northern Lights

northernlights-acvbWe often get inquiries from folks interested in seeing the Aurora Borealis, locally known in Alaska as the Northern Lights. During the summer months, it is very unlikely that you would see the Northern Lights due to Alaska’s Midnight Sun. Alaskans and visitors alike love our Midnight Sun as it provides up to 19 hours of daylight in June (or more depending on your location) and we are often seen enjoying outdoor activities late in the evening. On rare occasions in fall from Talkeetna to Denali and further North to Fairbanks, we are fortunate enough to have clear skies and atmospheric conditions that result in Aurora sightings. Lodges such as the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge provide “Northern Lights” wake up call service upon request. So, if you are traveling in the fall, be sure to check with the front desk of the lodges that you are staying at to see if they have such service. If they do, the Front Desk will call your room and wake you up, regardless of the time of night, if they observe the northern lights.

A friend of mine who was once manager of the McKinley Princess Lodge has a great memory of one night in early September when he was able observe the Northern Lights dancing around Mt. McKinley. He recalls that the Northern Lights were so bright that it silhouetted Mt. McKinley and all the guests at the lodge were out on the lodge deck late into the evening. Guests’ were amazed at the site and for staff and visitors alike; it was a great way to end the summer.

Northern LightsDuring the winter months, the opportunity to see the Northern Lights increases the further north you travel. For the greatest likelihood of observing the Northern Lights, I’d suggest planning a visit to Fairbanks or Interior Alaska. Both Fairbanks Princess Lodge and Sophies Station Hotel will provide “Northern Lights” wake up calls upon request. There are a few local companies, such as Northern Alaska Tours, that have multi-day winter tours that travel up the Dalton Highway to such places as Coldfoot seeking out the Northern Lights. For more information on Alaska’s Northern Lights, visit the website of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute. The Institute has a lot of information on the Aurora available and they also report and forecast the likelihood of seeing the Aurora Borealis at various locations around Alaska.

Comments

  1. albert j ramirez
    February 20th, 2010 | 8:41 am

    I’m thinking of taking a cruise on the inside passage and would like to go see the northern lights and fly back to Denver. Would like to start my cruise in san francisco if possible and fly back to Denver at the end of my trip. any and all information will be greatly appericated.

    albert ramirez
    9161 federal blvd
    apt 123
    Denver,Co 80260

  2. February 22nd, 2010 | 4:52 pm

    Albert,

    We’ll send you a brochure in the mail, but in the mean time if you give us a call at 800-208-0200 we’d be glad to answer your questions regarding Alaska cruises.

    Steve

  3. March 13th, 2010 | 11:08 am

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  4. Pat Layton
    July 30th, 2010 | 5:52 am

    Can you please send information regarding winter tours, would like to the northern lights.

    Thanks.

  5. lMrs Fullerton
    November 30th, 2011 | 12:43 pm

    I would love to take my entire family with me the youngest being six years old i would love to see the northern lights myself.

    Please let me know if this is ok or advisable to take my six year old with me on this trip of a life time

  6. December 8th, 2011 | 3:35 pm

    Yes! Kids love Alaska!

  7. January 7th, 2013 | 7:56 am

    Me and my family have been very interested in traveling to Alaska to see the northern lights as well as a few other exciting things also!!!! I believe it would be a very good experience for all of us.. If possible could you please send me some information regarding your tours as well as other information including (fishing, hiking,& sightseeing)?
    Thanks

  8. January 7th, 2013 | 8:15 am

    We would be happy to do so. We’ll need your mailing address – You can email us a request to info@alaskatravel.com. Be sure to include your address and we’ll mail you a 2013 Brochure. Thanks for your interest.

  9. karen
    January 27th, 2013 | 4:43 pm

    Will be in Fairbanks 1 night. Nov 9th,2013. Coming by rail if available,in Saturday, leaving Sunday morning. Where’s the best one night motel available for that date, and will I need to rent a car to drive out of Fairbanks to see the lights.

  10. January 28th, 2013 | 8:28 am

    Karen – That time of year, I would likely stay at Pikes Riverfront. They are a full service hotel on the Chena River and near the airport where you would rent your car from. I’d check out kayak.com to see who’s offering the best car rental rates for that day as they vary daily. An alternative would be to call Northern Alaska Tours to ask about a tour to see the Northern Lights, they are a local Fairbanks tour company that has winter tours focusing on the Northern Lights.

  11. Suzette Jones
    March 14th, 2013 | 5:33 am

    Looking to cruise the inside passage and stay in the north to see the northern lights. Travelling from the U.K. Brochures and advice would be appreciated. Guided tour preferred.

  12. March 14th, 2013 | 7:26 am

    Suzette – During most of the summer months when the cruises are scheduled you will not be able to see the Northern Lights due to having to much midnight sun. However, if you were to schedule your cruise late in the cruising season – say the end of August to early September then travel north to Fairbanks area you could potentially see them, depending on the weather. I would suggest that you want to take a Voyage of the Glacier Cruise from Vancouver to either Whittier (Princess, Norwegian) or Seward (RCCL, Celebrity, Holland) then go by land north to Fairbanks. Northern Alaska Tours operates Aurora tours that time of year. You should plan a stop in Denali National Park on the way, it is a good time to do so. If you would like us to send a brochure to you email us your name & address with a brochure request to info@alaskatravel.com. We’d be happy to send one.

  13. August 19th, 2015 | 2:01 pm

    I might be in the northwest this June. Can you ever see. The northern lights in June?

  14. August 19th, 2015 | 2:56 pm

    Unfortunately no!

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