Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights is one of the most beautiful sights in the world. This natural phenomenon is considered to be a transformational bucket-list experience. Many people wait years—even a lifetime—to witness this unique celestial display, since the weather conditions need to be perfect for it to take place. This dramatic and brilliant display of colour is caused when the sun’s charged particles (mainly electrons and protons) get trapped in the Earth’s magnetic field. These particles get ionised and start interacting with each other, creating a brilliant blaze of lights, visible in the night sky in shades of blue, purple, yellow, red, green or pink. There are several places where you can view the Northern Lights. However, viewing the Northern Lights in Canada is a great experience, owing to the many locations in Canada, coupled with its natural surrounding beauty. Here, we’ve picked the best places in Canada for you to admire Mother Nature’s light show.
The Best Places To See The Northern Lights In Canada
1. Battle Harbour, Newfoundland & Labrador
A 19th-century fishing village, Battle Harbour is located on the eastern coast of an island in the Labrador Sea in Canada. As this historic site is surrounded by fjords and icebergs, it offers dramatic ocean vistas of icebergs and whales breaking the surface of the water. This small, isolated out-port is also home to some of the most pristine dark skies in Canada. Its isolated location and lack of pollution has aided in making it one of the great spots to witness the Northern Lights in Canada. Avid Aurora chasers should keep in mind that this port village is only open from June to September, but during those months you will find many nighttime tours where visitors can take photos of the Northern Lights with the picturesque village in the foreground.
2. Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Located in the middle of the Auroral Oval, Yellowknife is known as the best place to see the Northern Lights in Canada in winter. This small isolated city is the capital of the Northwest territories and is ground zero for northern lights viewing in North America, all thanks to a host of favourable, natural attributes. The city is blessed with a flat landscape, low precipitation and less population. Its fairly flat landscape gives an unobstructed sky view and low precipitation results in regular cloudless skies. Visit Yellowknife during winter, from mid-November to April for the best viewing. The city is one of the most popular Aurora viewing tour destinations in Canada, as one can witness the world’s brightest and most frequent displays of the northern lights here. In fact, the city also has “tiny lighthouses” that alerts residents and visitors when there’s a likely showing of the Aurora Borealis that night. Check out the Aurora village made just for this experience or Blachford Lake Lodge for a luxury experience in the wilderness.
3. Fort Mcmurray, Alberta
Colloquially called Fort Mac, Fort McMurray city in northeastern Alberta is located at the confluence of the Athabasca and Clearwater rivers. The city is geographically within the Auroral band centring on the 65th parallel, where most auroras occur, because of which the city is a hot spot for stunning Northern lights. Due to McMurray’s location and some light pollution in town, you get to see the Northern Lights, at around midnight from October to March on cold clear evenings. For better viewing opportunities, take a drive slightly out of the township but keep looking towards the north and northeast.
5. Whitehorse, Yukon
In Canada, Yukon is known as the topmost destination to view the Northern Lights. The province is sparsely populated and the smallest and westernmost of Canada’s three territories. Yukon’s capital is Whitehorse, which is situated along the banks of the Yukon river between two Aboriginal communities, Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and Kwanlin Dün First Nation. Blessed with spectacular scenery around every corner this city is one of the most accessible places to view the Northern Lights in Canada. Whitehorse has unique Aurora glass chalets for the ultimate viewing experience. Or you could also try Northern Lights Resort and Spa, just outside the city for a complete ﬂoor-to-ceiling experience. This traditional territory is also one of the places in Canada that has the longest season for viewing the northern lights, spanning from mid-August to mid-April.
6. Churchill, Manitoba
Also known as World’s Polar Bear capital, Churchill is located in northern Manitoba, Canada, on the west shore of Hudson Bay. This town is one of the best places to see the northern lights in Canada due to its location. It is situated perfectly right below the Aurora Oval (the oval region is centred on the earth’s magnetic pole where auroral emissions occur) and therefore bills itself to be “one of the top three places on the planet” to view the Aurora Borealis. The best time to view the Northern Lights in Churchill is January to March. View this natural light spectacle at a custom-built Aurora Pod of Natural Habitat Adventures or get a Tundra experience at Frontiers North Adventures.
7. Iqaluit, Nunavut
Sitting on the vast Baffin Island at the northern end of Frobisher Bay in Canada, the city of Iqaluit is the capital city of Nunavut territory. As the city is sparsely populated, under the Aurora Oval and lacks pollution, it is one of the best destinations in Canada to witness the Northern Lights. Before hopping on an Aurora Borealis adventure here at Iqaluit, keep in mind that the city is known as one of the coldest places to see the Northern Lights in Canada. So, be prepared to brave average temperatures between -10 to -32°C (14 to -25.6°F) here. The peak time to see the lights is between October and April. Create your own Northern Lights experience by either viewing the lights from a boat on Hudson Bay or seeing them from outside your own igloo!
8. Muncho Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia
This provincial park is located on the Alaska Highway, in northern British Columbia. The isolated park is known for the spectacular folded mountains around it, bountiful wildlife and brilliantly coloured wildflowers. At this prime viewing spot for Aurora sightings, one can relish some of the most picturesque backdrops while catching a glimpse of the light show. The word ‘Muncho of the Park’ comes from the Aboriginal name meaning ‘big water’ to refer to the Aurora Borealis reflecting off the calm waters of Muncho Lake. Muncho Lake Provincial Park is also located close to Yukon territory and reportedly has Aurora sightings all year round. Stay at the Northern Rockies Lodge to experience a cozy haven with rustic cabins, stunning folded mountains and geological formations all around you.
Catch The Ethereal Northern Lights In Canada
While in Canada, you can witness the northern lights almost all year round, although it is much easier during winter. Depending on the dates of your planned trip, head north during winter and south during summer to catch the enchanting streaks of light in the sky. Get a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis or the northern lights in Canada and tell us how the experience transformed you in the comments below.