When you think of bucket lists, one of the top travel experiences that comes to mind is witnessing the northern lights (or Aurora Borealis) drape across the sky.
The allure of the otherworldly colors dancing above your head as you stand bundled up in the cold is just too much to pass up for most travelers.
While most people think that you need to travel far to see this splendor, the truth is that in America we are also spoiled for options in terms of places to witness this phenomenon.
While dreamy destinations such as Norway, Finland, Iceland, and Northern Canada do offer amazing opportunities to see the Northern Lights, many Americans need not go that far from home.
Of course, the aforementioned places are all worthy of a trip, but if you are looking to save money and time, check out some of these destinations across the U.S. that make great viewpoints to see the northern lights this winter.
Here Are 8 Of The Best Places To See The Northern Lights In The U.S. This Winter:
It should go without saying that Alaska is the number one best place in America to see the northern lights. While there are many Alaskan towns to choose from, many hail Fairbanks as being the top spot.
With a solid tourism infrastructure here, you can find everything from basecamps, viewing pods, and hot springs, making Fairbanks a destination in itself. The lights are just a bonus at this point!
@explorefairbanks The best gift you can give.. a trip to Fairbanks during Aurora Season august 21-April 21💚 #explorefairbanks #fairbanksalaska #northernlights #auroratours #auroraborealis #couplestravel #travelgoals ♬ Until I Found You – Em Beihold Version – Stephen Sanchez & Em Beihold
Acadia National Park, Maine
While the northeast of the country might be the most populated area and therefore the most brightly lit sky, it is still possible to find corners of this region with skies dark enough to witness the northern lights.
Maine in general is known to be a great state for viewing the lights, and the ever-popular Acadia National Park is an ideal place to base yourself. Make sure to dress accordingly here though, as the cold winter gusts from the ocean make for some low temps.
Mount Washington, New Hampshire
For the past few years, the Mount Washington Observatory has recorded catching the northern lights, making this area another option for witnessing the phenomena in the northeast region of the country.
The surrounding White Mountains have zero light pollution, and therefore catching the aurora is more likely than other areas of the state.
Headlands International Dark Sky Park, Michigan
The start of Michigan is home to six internationally designated Dark Sky Parks, otherwise known as natural areas that protect true darkness.
It goes without saying that these dark sky areas in the northern parts of the U.S. would be prime places to catch the northern lights in the winter, not to mention the Milky Way in the summer months.
If you visit Headlands, feel free to bring blankets and sleeping bags, but know camping is not permitted. So, while you can sleep over and visit at all hours to watch the sky, don’t plan on pitching a tent.
@atriparoundthemitten Spring is a great time to watch the night skies for the amazing northern lights and stellar star-gazing in Michigan! Some of the best viewing locations are located in our Michigan State Parks as well as 3 Internationally designated Dark Park Preserves. Spring Meteor Showers and the 2023 Upper Peninsula Dark Sky Festival April 21-22, 2023 Lake Hudson Recreation Area- 5505 Morey Hwy Clayton, MI 49235 Negwegon State Park- Negwegon Park Rd, Ossineke, MI 49766 Port Cresent State Park- 1775 Port Austin Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467 Rockport State Park- Rockport Rd, Alpena, MI 49707 Thompson Harbor State Park- Posen, MI 49776 Wilderness State Park- 903 Wilderness Park Dr. Carp Lake, MI 49718 Headlands International Dark Sky Park- 15675 Headlands Rd, Mackinaw City, MI 49701 Keweenaw Dark Sky Park- 14252 US HWY 41 Copper Harbor, MI 49918 Dr. T.K. Lawless International Dark Sky Park- 15122 Monkey Run St. Jones, MI 49061 *photos used in reel taken by A Trip Around the Mitten at McLain State Park- Sept 2022 #puremichigan #mistateparks #michigandarkskypark #spring #keweenaw #upperpeninsula #upperpeninsulamichigan #darkskypark #mistargazer #northernlights ♬ original sound – atriparoundthemitten
The Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
This group of 22 islands lies off the coast of Northern Wisconsin, situated in the waters of Lake Superior. This area is a National Lakeshore and welcomes visitors year-round, although it does ask people to remain informed as the current ever-changing weather conditions.
Even if don’t catch the aurora here, you can still explore the cliff-like islands jutting out of the lake, frozen over and completely mesmerizing.
Malletts Bay, Vermont
If you are lucky enough to find yourself in either the stunning upstate New York region of the Adirondack Mountains or in Vermont’s picturesque city of Burlington, then making your way to Malletts Bay to catch the northern lights in the winter is a must-do. The area forms a type of peninsula into Lake Champlain, and this is where many of the aurora chasers come to try their luck.
The peninsula is home to Causeway Park and Mills Point, where you can get comfy and gaze up into the northern sky while waiting for your natural light show to start. The popular nearby resort area of Stow is also a good place to try and catch the lights if you are here on a foliage or ski vacation.
Glacier National Park, Montana
As one of the most visited national parks in the country, Montana’s Glacier National Park is a great place to try and watch the lights dance above Montana’s Rocky Mountains.
Some of the best viewing places in the park include the glacier-carved Lake McDonald and the lodge there is a nice place to stay as well.
Looking Glass Road also has multiple viewpoints that are popular with aurora watchers, and for a more remote location, you can try Bowman and Kintla lakes.
@clanger_mcbanger Did you know you can see the Aurora in Montana? #aurora #northernlights #nightphotography #fyp #glacier #glaciernationalpark ♬ Living Life, In The Night – sergionabeat
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Tucked away in northern Minnesota on the Canadian border, you can find one of the least visited National Parks, lake-laden Voyageurs National Park, a prime place to try and catch the northern lights this winter.
Most campsites are great places to wait for the lights, as are the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and the boat launch areas of Kabetogama Lake and Ash River.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com