Imagine standing beneath a sky painted with vivid colours of phosphorescent inexperienced, yellow and pink, as they dance and shimmer in the night time. A very magical expertise awaits you in Canada, house to one in every of the most gorgeous pure phenomena on Earth – the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. Join us on a journey to unlock the spectacular fantastic thing about the northern lights of Canada, the place you’ll study the science, historical past, and cultural significance of this mesmerizing gentle present, in addition to the finest instances, areas, and ideas for a memorable aurora chasing journey.
Where To See Northern Lights Canada
Are you able to take a Northern Lights journey? Forget about Iceland or Svalbard, Canada has clear skies and lengthy chilly nights making it the good place to see the Aurora Borealis. In this text, you’ll study the whole lot it’s worthwhile to find out about seeing the Northern Lights in Canada from the place are the finest locations to see the Northern Lights, to Northern Lights images ideas and steered Aurora excursions. So let’s escape the metropolis lights and got down to distant locations with little gentle air pollution to take pleasure in this surprise of nature.
The Magic of the Aurora Borealis in Canada
Canada is blessed with a unprecedented alternative to witness the Northern Lights as much as 300 days a 12 months. If you need to see the northern lights in Canada, head north and keep away from cloud cowl. You don’t must go all the option to the Arctic Circle to see Northern Lights, nevertheless, being there offers you a good higher likelihood with extra cloudless clear nights because of being to this point north!
Canada is blessed with a northern location and huge, darkish skies that’s situated inside the Aurora Oval in the world’s northern hemisphere making it the premier place to see the Northern Lights. We will unravel the magic of the Canadian aurora borealis and delve into the profound connection Indigenous Peoples have with this awe-inspiring phenomenon.
Understanding the Aurora Borealis
The Aurora Borealis happens when charged particles from the solar collide with gases in Earth’s environment, creating gorgeous shapes and patterns that paint the night time sky with vibrant colours. This outcomes in a surreal visible expertise that has impressed numerous myths and legends, corresponding to the Finnish perception that the lights are created by an Arctic fox operating by means of the snow, or the Southern Hemisphere’s personal model, the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights)
The science behind the Northern Lights is fascinating, however its cultural significance is equally compelling. Indigenous Peoples in Canada view the Aurora Borealis as a non secular and ancestral connection, with varied communities believing that the lights signify a endless power and a hyperlink to their ancestors. This deep connection to the Northern Lights provides an additional layer of surprise to an already charming expertise.
The Perfect Time for Northern Lights Viewing
Timing is the whole lot in terms of witnessing the Northern Lights in their full glory. The finest time to see the Northern Lights in Canada is often between November and March when there’s much less daylight and the skies are darker. Solar exercise additionally performs a task, as the fall equinox in September and the spring equinox in March often have larger photo voltaic exercise, however extra daylight throughout these months reduces the probabilities of seeing the lights.
While you could assume summer season can be a really perfect time for aurora looking, the midnight solar in a few of Canada’s northernmost areas truly drowns out the Northern Lights, making them barely seen, if in any respect in the summer season. So, for the finest likelihood of witnessing this pure surprise, plan your journey throughout the darker winter months.
The auroral Oval
Much of Northern Canada sits underneath the auroral zone, also referred to as the aurora belt or aurora oval. This geographic space homes the finest areas for seeing the northern lights. This zone encircles the geomagnetic poles of the Earth and is the place the planet’s magnetic subject is strongest.
In these areas, charged particles emitted from the solar (photo voltaic wind) work together with the Earth’s magnetic subject and collide with gases in the Earth’s environment, inflicting the spectacular gentle shows for which the auroras are identified.
Its visibility will be affected by photo voltaic exercise, climate situations, and lightweight air pollution. If you need to see northern lights, it’s really useful to be as far north as attainable inside the auroral oval, in a location with a transparent darkish night time sky, and to observe auroral exercise.
When photo voltaic wind and Earth’s magnetic subject work together throughout prime Aurora months, it causes a disturbance in the magnetosphere, resulting in the Northern Lights. This interplay creates a response that makes the magnetic subject strains stretch, twist, and launch power, ensuing in the stunning colours and shapes of the auroras. So, for the finest odds of catching this unbelievable gentle present, plan your journey throughout the prime months for Aurora viewing.
Optimal Hours and Moon Phases
The finest hours for catching the Northern Lights are often between 10 pm and a pair of am, significantly a number of hours after sunset and round native photo voltaic midnight (± 2 hours). Moon phases may also play a task in Aurora viewing.
A full moon could make the Aurora look washed out to the bare eye. But photographers will be capable of seize the lights even with out seeing the northern lights vividly.
The finest moon to see northern lights in is a brand new moon or crescent moon. The darker the skies the higher likelihood of seeing the northern lights along with your eyes.
Top Canadian Destinations for Northern Lights Chasing
Canada presents a large number of unbelievable locations for chasing the Northern Lights, with distant and accessible areas throughout the nation offering gorgeous views of this pure surprise. From the polar bear capital of Churchill, Manitoba, to the rugged fantastic thing about Jasper National Park, Alberta, there’s an ideal spot for each aurora hunter in Northern Canada.
We are going to cowl the hottest aurora experiences in Canada corresponding to The Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Northern Manitoba, Northern Quebec, Northern Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
November to March is taken into account the prime time to see northern lights in Canada as a consequence of elevated photo voltaic exercise throughout these months.
Churchill, Manitoba, is named the “polar bear capital of the world” and presents a primary location for Aurora viewing between October and April. The city sits underneath the Auroral Zone so can see the Northern Lights on nights seen as much as 300 nights a 12 months relying on gentle air pollution. We have seen the Auroras every time we went on a polar bear safari in Churchill. It is really magical to see polar bears by day and Auroras by night time. See all the particulars from our journeys right here: Things to do in Churchill Manitoba – Land of the Polar Bears
We have gone to go to the polar bears thrice in Churchill whereas staying on the shores of Hudson Bay and we have now all the time seen the Northern Lights. Even late in the summer season months on shorter days, we nonetheless managed to see the northern lights.
We journey with Churchill Wild who has three lodges on the Hudson Bay. Being distant from the gentle air pollution in the metropolis, these lodges are one in every of the finest locations to see the northern lights in the world. You actually can depend on catching a glimpse. Churchill is so dependable that you could be spot the lights anytime, even in summer season.
You don’t must go to a distant lodge although, Churchill is a small city with loads of alternatives to see the northern lights. It’s extra reasonably priced to remain in Churchill the place you may select from cozy lodges or conventional lodge that may take you out on a a Tundra Buggy Explorer journey.
Best time to go: November by means of March Nights seen: Up to 300 nights per 12 months
Whitehorse, Yukon, is a well-liked vacation spot to additionally see the northern lights as a consequence of its straightforward accessibility and little gentle air pollution. The finest viewing alternatives to see the Aurora Borealis in the Yukon are between November and March. The prime locations to view are Miles Canyon, Fish Lake, and Mount McIntyre Recreation Center:
While Whitehorse is well accessible, why not make your option to our favourite metropolis in the Yukon, Dawson City? This is extra of a village than a metropolis. The city sits on the Yukon River underneath a hill known as the Midnight Dome the place guests watch the midnight solar throughout the summer season months, however in the winter, it’s a great spot to see northern lights dazzle above the city.
What Else Is there to do in the Yukon in Winter
When you’re in Whitehorse, Yukon, there’s no scarcity of enjoyable actions to maintain you occupied when you await the Northern Lights to make their look. You might attempt your hand at canine sledding, ice fishing, or take a leisurely stroll round the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. If you’re extra of a thrill-seeker, why not go snowmobiling on Lake Laberge?
After all that exercise, you may chill out and unwind by soaking in the outside swimming pools at the Takhini Hot Springs. It’s a improbable option to spend your time as you anticipate the unbelievable gentle present that awaits you.
Don’t neglect to discover the charming Main Street and different points of interest throughout your keep in this enchanting Yukon vacation spot.
For a really immersive Northern Lights expertise, think about staying at the Northern Lights Resort & Spa, which presents chalets with massive glass home windows for unobstructed Aurora views. Additionally, one-night Northern Lights excursions can be found in Whitehorse, a location with mesmerizing metropolis lights, for these brief on time.
The finest time to go: November by means of the finish of April Nights seen: Up to 240 nights per 12 months
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, is one other prime location for Northern Lights viewing, because of its place underneath the auroral oval. Sitting on the shores of Great Slave Lake, Yellowknife is the capital metropolis of the territory and is one in every of the closest Canadian cities to the North Pole.
The finest time to go to Yellowknife for Aurora looking is between November and April. During your keep, you may select from varied lodges and exercise facilities centered on the Northern Lights expertise.
What to do in Yellowknife
While in Yellowknife, you’ll get to take pleasure in a complete bundle that takes care of all of your wants. It contains scrumptious meals to maintain you energized all through your keep. You’ll even have cozy lodging to relaxation in after a day of journey.
If you’re a fan of flying, you’re in for a deal with. The bundle features a float aircraft journey that offers you a chicken’s eye view of the breathtaking landscapes. And in the event you’re an animal lover, you’ll love the tour of the bison sanctuary. It’s a novel alternative to see these majestic creatures in their pure habitat.
The finest time to go: December to April Nights seen: Up to 240 nights per 12 months
The Canadian Rockies – Jasper National Park
If you’re planning to chase the Northern Lights in Alberta make your option to the Canadian Rockies. It’s one in every of the finest areas to expertise the Aurora Borealis. In the Canadian Rockies, the lights are lively year-round, however they’re most lively from Autumn to early spring. Read subsequent: 38 Best Things to Do in Jasper Canada in 2023
Jasper is a chosen Dark Sky Preserve because of its clear skies and low gentle air pollution. It is a perfect location for witnessing the Northern Lights as much as 300 nights a 12 months. The finest time to go to Jasper to see the northern lights is between September and May when the northern skies are darkish for hours. However, you may spot lights year-round if the situations are proper.
Apart from chasing the Northern Lights, Jasper National Park presents a variety of thrilling actions, corresponding to mountaineering, cross-country snowboarding, mountain biking, and wildlife recognizing. Don’t miss the annual Dark Sky Festival in October, which celebrates the park’s pristine night time skies and presents a improbable alternative to catch the Aurora Borealis. It is one in every of the finest locations in the world to see the northern lights because of its clear skies. Check out: 14 Best Hikes in Jasper National Park – Alberta Canada
The finest time to go: September to May Nights seen: Up to 300 nights per 12 months
On the different hand, Banff National Park, whereas not as well-known for Northern Lights viewing as Jasper, can nonetheless provide some improbable shows, particularly in winter. It’s situated simply 4 hours south of Jasper with many locations to view darkish skies as effectively. Read extra: 17 Best Stops Along the Icefields Parkway In 2023
The park’s excessive elevation and clear, darkish skies create the good situations for recognizing the Aurora. Some of the finest locations to attempt your luck in Banff embody Lake Minnewanka, Castle Mountain, and Peyto Lake. Just bear in mind, persistence is essential in terms of Aurora looking! The Best Things to Do in Banff, Canada
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador is one in every of the finest locations to expertise the Aurora Borealis. With untouched wilderness and a small inhabitants, you may see northern lights as much as 60 nights a 12 months. The prime time for catching the lights in this area is between September and October, and March and April. Top areas for Aurora looking in Newfoundland and Labrador embody the Torngat Mountains National Park and Battle Harbour.
Things to do in Newfoundland and Labrador
During your go to to Newfoundland and Labrador, you’re in for a deal with with a number of gorgeous points of interest that you would be able to discover. Start off your journey with a go to to Signal Hill. This historic web site presents panoramic views of St. John’s and the surrounding areas. It’s additionally the web site the place the first transatlantic wi-fi sign was obtained, including a contact of historical past to your go to.
Next in your checklist ought to be the Cape Spear Lighthouse National Historic Site which dates again to the nineteenth century. As the most easterly level in North America, it presents breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
A go to to Gros Morne National Park is a should. With its numerous panorama of mountains, forests, and coastal lowlands, it presents loads of mountaineering trails the place you may immerse your self in the fantastic thing about nature.
Finally, spherical off your go to with a visit to L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. This archaeological web site is the solely identified Viking settlement in North America.
The finest time to go: September and October, and March and April Nights seen: Up to 60 nights per 12 months
We have had the privilege of snowmobiling to the far north of Quebec to witness some spectacular night time skies. For a really distant Northern Lights expertise, enterprise to Kuujjuaq, Quebec, a small village situated in the Nunavik area.
If you actually need to witness the Aurora Borealis, Kuujjuaq, Quebec is the place. Its northern location and proximity to the Aurora Oval present unbelievable alternatives for witnessing the Northern Lights, particularly between October and March.
What is there to do in Kuujjuaq Quebec?
Kuujjuaq presents a novel and off-the-beaten-path expertise for Aurora chasers searching for an genuine reference to nature.
During your keep, you can too take part in actions corresponding to trout fishing and recognizing native wildlife like caribou and Musk Ox.
The finest time to go: October and March Nights seen: Up to 240 nights per 12 months
Preparing for the Cold of Northern Canada
Winter temperatures in Canada can vary from -1°C to -40°C (30°F to -40°F) much more with the wind chill. To keep heat and comfy, it’s vital to layer up with high-quality thermal clothes that’s breathable and constructed from supplies like merino wool. Make certain to put on liner gloves in order that your pores and skin just isn’t uncovered to the chilly.
In addition to clothes, we propose packing ski goggles, hand heaters and foot heaters, balaclava, insulated boots, and a heat hat. See our ideas 5 Winter Layering Tips to Dress for Extreme Cold Weather
Checking Aurora Forecasts
To see how your probabilities of seeing the Northern Lights are, examine the Aurora forecast or the Kp index. The larger the Kp index, the larger the geomagnetic exercise, and the higher your probabilities of seeing the Northern Lights.
You can examine the forecast on websites like NOAA Space Weather or Aurora Notify, which offer estimated Kp ranges for the subsequent few days. We use the Aurora Forecast
Photographing the Northern Lights
Photographing the Northern Lights will be difficult. To seize gorgeous photographs of the Aurora Borealis, you’ll want a digital camera with handbook settings, a quick wide-angle or ultra-wide-angle lens, and a tripod to maintain your digital camera regular throughout lengthy exposures. However, Deb caught some nice photographs of the Northern Lights together with her iPhone 15 ProMax.
Experiment with capturing the Northern Lights by:
Using gradual shutter speeds of 10-15 seconds and night time mode Keep your ISO as little as you may to get rid of noise. Use handbook focus and focus to infinity in your lens. Consider utilizing an exterior set off to manage your digital camera remotely or utilizing the 2-second timer in your digital camera. Keeping in thoughts composition guidelines like together with a foreground aspect or a north-facing composition to get the lights in the sky Not being afraid to experiment and have enjoyable along with your pictures
By following the following tips, you’ll make sure to seize the finest Northern Lights photographs, showcasing the magical fantastic thing about the Northern Lights photographs to cherish for a lifetime.
Is a Northern Lights Tour Worth It?
Yes, a Northern Lights tour is price it. Guided excursions provide skilled information, tailor-made itineraries, and hassle-free planning in your Northern Lights journey. Local guides who know the finest spots for Northern Lights Canada and may share invaluable ideas for maximizing your probabilities of witnessing the lights. These excursions usually embody transportation, lodging, meals, and varied actions, making it a hassle-free and well-rounded expertise.
Popular Northern Lights tour packages cater to completely different preferences and budgets, with costs beginning at round $2,900 and going as much as over $7,000 relying on the resort class, area, time of 12 months, and size of keep for northern lights viewing.
Some respected corporations providing Northern Lights excursions in Canada embody Churchill Wild
These tour packages usually embody:
Round-trip airport, resort, and tour floor transportation Multiple nights of Aurora looking excursions Free scorching drinks and snacks throughout the excursions The choice to get Aurora group participation photos
By selecting a guided tour bundle, you may take pleasure in a memorable and well-organized Northern Lights expertise that caters to your particular pursuits and desires.
About the Northern Lights
Auroras can happen in each of the earth’s poles. In the Southern Hemisphere, they are appropriately referred to as the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis. Our lodge guides at Churchill Wild used to run a lodge in Tasmania, and after witnessing the southern hemisphere lights, they stated they wished to maneuver to the northern hemisphere to see the Northern Lights. Combine polar bears and northern lights and you’ve got one in every of the most fun winter actions that you would be able to hope for!
What month is finest to see the northern lights in Canada?
The finest time to see the Northern Lights in Canada is from November to March when the nights are lengthy and darkish with clear skies. This permits for the next likelihood of viewing the present as a consequence of the darkness which makes the lights seem brighter. You can see them as early as September and as late as April.
Where in Canada are there Northern Lights?
Churchill is the finest place to see Northern Lights in Canada. Yellowknife, in Canada’s Northwest Territories, can also be the finest place to witness the Northern Lights show in Canada. Located south of the Arctic Circle and underneath the Aurora Oval is is one in every of the closest cities in Canada to the North Pole,
Can you see the northern lights in Calgary Canada?
You can see the northern lights in Calgary, relying on the depth of geomagnetic storms (G3 or stronger). Just ensure that to get away from the metropolis lights to keep away from gentle air pollution.
What time will the northern lights be seen in Alberta?
The Northern Lights are finest seen in Edmonton from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., with peak viewing round midnight. Don’t neglect to look north after darkish!
What are some prime Canadian locations for Northern Lights?
Churchill, Manitoba; Whitehorse, Yukon; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories; Jasper, Alberta; Newfoundland and Labrador; and Kuujjuaq, Quebec.
So, whether or not you’re a seasoned Aurora chaser or a first-time adventurer, embark on this unbelievable journey to unlock the spectacular fantastic thing about the Northern Lights in Canada. The sky is ready to captivate and encourage you.