Alaska’s Arctic is one of the best places in the world to view the Aurora Borealis due to the combination of our location directly beneath the Auroral Oval and unique geography that encourages stable, clear weather. However, it does need to be dark enough at night to be able to see the northern lights, and in Alaska the Aurora Season runs from August 21 through April 21.
Depending on your time and budget, you can take a guided evening Aurora tour to a secluded homestead cabin, combine a day trip across the Arctic Circle with extended Aurora watching, or to optimize your chances of encountering this natural phenomenon, spend multiple nights looking for them at the Yukon River or in Coldfoot in the Brooks Range.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION directly under the source of the lights in the northern hemisphere -- the Aurora Oval or Aurora Belt. It is this line around the globe the scientists have identified as where the lights begin and they spread north/south from here.
When the reports say it will be a Kp 1 or a quiet night for the aurora -- it does not mean the lights will not occur. They do - it will just be a narrow or thin belt, and the places farther north and south from the center of the Aurora Oval/Belt the aurora will be faint or not visible at all. Coldfoot has pictures of the aurora on a low night and it still covers the sky -- again, because they are directly under the center of oval.
The other part of location is being interior, away from the coast, statistically there are more clear nights here in Interior Alaska versus coastal areas which is a very important part of looking for the aurora. When you are along the coast there is more moisture causing more overcast nights. This includes popular Aurora destinations like Iceland, Norway and even our own coastline in Southcentral Alaska. Great location in their own right to visit, but not necessarily the best for Aurora viewing.
We have a few ways you can enjoy looking for the aurora.
You can base yourself in Fairbanks and take one of our "day" Arctic Circle tours. We say "day" since you will not get back to Fairbanks until 3:30 - 4:30 AM -- again, we keep you out during the prime time for the lights to occur.
Or, we also offer Arctic Circle Aurora Overnight Adventures to Coldfoot, Alaska. Coldfoot is located directly under the oval and while we cannot guarantee them -- you have placed the best odds you can right under where they originate in the northern hemisphere. Stay up most of the night looking for the aurora and during the day go for a snow shoe hike, dog sled ride, or explore the Brooks Mountain Range on a guided ground tour north on the Dalton Highway.
We put together an Aurora Frequently Asked Questions flyer with many of the common questions we receive. Let us know if we missed one we should address. AURORA FAQ
Here you will find some helpful hints on taking pictures of the Northern Lights. Photographing the Aurora
If you have more questions about the aurora and how as a visitor you can go out and look for them please contact one of our helpful reservation agents at: 1-907-474-8600.
Arctic Circle Aurora Drive Adventure
Arctic Circle Aurora Fly Drive Adventure - Northbound
Arctic Circle Aurora Fly Drive Adventure - Southbound
Arctic Circle Aurora Overnight Adventures