Winter has officially arrived, bringing along many exciting new opportunities that make enduring the frigid weather worth it.
At a time when those planning their next trip are seeking to find the most unique, unforgettable experiences, there’s no better way to end the year than to see the breathtaking Northern Lights, whose awe-inspiring beauty can only be admired for a short window of time.
Contrary to popular belief, though, people don’t have to go to a remote Nordic nation to marvel at the stunning phenomenon firsthand – it can be seen from several North American destinations, some of which might just be a short drive away.
So, if you’re seeking to experience one of nature’s most mesmerizing displays this winter, these 3 North American destinations should be on your radar:
The only international location on today’s list boasts the type of clear skies, convenient infrastructure, and idyllic atmosphere that’ll make the long trip well worth the hassle.
Yellowknife, the capital of Canada's Northwest Territories, greatly benefits from its geographical position and latitude that make witnessing the Northern Lights that much easier.
Its location within the auroral oval allows locals and visitors alike to witness the breathtaking phenomenon pretty frequently from mid-November to April, while the pristine wilderness surrounding the region only makes the experience feel that much more memorable.
Thanks to the area’s great air quality and minimal cloud interference, Yellowknife has some remarkably clear skies, providing a gorgeous, unobstructed view of the lights you’ve traveled so far to see.
The locals have also made a conscious effort to keep artificial light pollution to a minimum, so you won’t have to fight off glares when taking that long-awaited picture.
That’s just one of the many steps the region has taken toward making sure that the Northern Lights can be taken in in their full glory.
For example, first-time visitors can choose from a wide selection of guided tours, ranging from dog-sledding experiences to ice-fishing excursions, most of which cost around $70-$100 per adult.
Moreover, don’t let the natural, wild surroundings fool you – Yellowknife’s hotels and lodges come complete with state-of-the-art amenities designed to make your visit that much more convenient, including heated viewing areas and wake-up services for those trying to catch the lights at their peak.
If you’re trying to keep your travel domestic this winter, you’ll be happy to know that Fairbanks, Alaska, is one of the most exceptional locations for witnessing the Northern lights, thanks to its proximity to the Northern Pole and convenient latitude.
Visitors will quickly learn that this is the place to be for that quintessential wintery experience.
Beyond marveling at the gorgeous lights, those lucky enough to make it to Fairbanks can also embark on dog sledding expeditions, explore ice sculptures, or take a relaxing dip in the Chena Hot Springs (preferably while looking at the aurora borealis-stricken sky).
As it happens, Fairbanks is also home to the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska, which conducts some truly extensive research on the Northern Lights.
So, the curious minds looking to get some scientific insight into the seemingly magical phenomenon can finally answer their questions through the many lectures and workshops hosted by the institution.
Denali National Park, Alaska
Just a 2-hour drive away from Fairbanks, you’ll find Denali National Park, yet another Alaskan beauty that promises visitors the most breathtaking views.
Here, in particular, the surrounding landscapes complete with majestic, snow-covered mountains will make the scenery seem that much more impressive (as if the bright lights that cut through the night sky weren’t enough).
Unlike its more urban counterpart, though, Denali offers a far more secluded and tranquil setting for those looking to relish in the phenomenon in near-solitude, enhancing the spiritual and meditative effects of such a life-altering experience.
Here, you won’t have to worry about the intrusion of artificial lights or pollution getting in the way of the crisp night sky.
What’s more, nature lovers will be able to embark on the sightseeing excursion of their lifetime since Denali is famously home to a remarkably diverse range of wildlife species, consisting of moose, caribou, and wolves, just to name a few.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.