The Northern Lights in Canada – A Complete Guide to the Best 26 Spots to See Them
Updated On: January 31, 2022
The extraordinary phenomenon called the Aurora Borealis has been luring people from everywhere around the world. This rare spectacle occurs in the places within the Arctic Circle, for it needs the right conditions to manifest itself.
Norway is the most popular destination for travelers that hunt the northern lights, and it was also where the first observatory of those lights took place. A very few people know that there are Northern Lights in Canada. Canada is, definitely, famous for many things, but not that popular when it comes to spectral aurora.
In fact, a large portion of Canada lies too close to the Arctic Circle, and the Northern lights need too much darkness to work with along with other conditions. Interestingly, Canada seems to have all that’s required to pave the way for the lights. You may already know what the aurora is, but a little explanation won’t hurt.
The aurora borealis is the striking of particles from the sun into atoms of the Earth’s atmosphere. This chemical reaction may take place around different places in the world. But for the lights to come into sight, utter darkness is much needed. A Dry climate and minimal light pollution are also important factors for the aurora to come dancing across the sky.
Consequently, the colder months are the best times of the year when you can get lucky and catch the lights. They may be taking place throughout the year, but your chances of seeing them during summer are quite slim or non-existent. So, before you book your flight, check out this long list of spots where you can hunt the Northern Lights in Canada.
1. Wood Buffalo National Park
Situated in northeastern Alberta, the Wood Buffalo National park is a significant destination for Canada’s largest park. It is also one of Canada’s national historic sites that offers plenty of landmarks and activities for its visitors. This national park is also an excellent site for adventure lovers where they can hike or even camp.
Wood Buffalo National Park has gained more popularity for being one of the best spots to see the Northern Lights in Canada. The right conditions come together and present themselves in this magnificent region. Meanwhile, you can watch free bisons roaming around, an exciting sight to indulge in while waiting for the aurora.
2. Battle Harbour
Battle Harbour is an ancient fishing village that sits on an island running along the coast of the Labrador Sea. This site offers several magnificent vistas besides the celestial display wavering in its dark skies. Its remoteness assisted in significantly reducing the pollution caused by artificial lights. Thus, it became an excellent base from which you can watch the Northern Lights in Canada.
The abundance of icebergs leaves Battle Harbour immersing in the extreme cold during winter. Also, the fjords surrounding the site allow for expansive sky views that can guarantee a clear sight for the aurora.
3. Jasper National Park
Jasper is another central national park that is located in Alberta. This splendid site possesses scenic landscapes that will leave you spellbound. Its incredibly dark skies have made it a tourist hotspot where you can hunt the Northern Lights in Canada. Interestingly, many landmarks are around to visit while waiting for the darkness to take over.
Lush forests cover a great portion of the national park along with several lakes and picturesque highways. Those iconic landmarks will amuse you in different ways, and they also serve as a great addition to the already hypnotizing aurora-filled skies.
Apparently, Alberta is home to several spots where visitors can witness the Northern Lights in Canada. Yet, other Canadian territories serve the same purpose, including Yukon. The latter lies in the northwestern corner, possessing vast landscapes, with its capital, Whitehorse, being a destination to watch the aurora.
Aurora safaris occur in Whitehorse, where you can stay in the glass chalets explicitly made for this purpose. These chalets offer spectacular scenes in every corner thanks to embracing several picturesque lakes. You can visit the Carcross Desert lying nearby and witness the lights from the spacious lands for an ultimate viewing experience.
5. Dempster Highway
The Dempster Highway is another destination in Yukon from which you can view the Northern Lights in Canada. This highway is long enough, passing several arctic landscapes that provide a broad sky view. However, there is not much to do there except watching the spectral wonder.
There are also limited services along the highway. Thus, visitors are always advised to prepare their supplies before hitting the road. The good news is the Dempster Highway starts east of Dawson City, and you can head to this nearby city and explore its iconic attractions and landmarks.
6. Fort McMurry
Fort McMurry is a city in northeastern Alberta and is commonly known as Fort Mac. This city isn’t a spot for complete dark skies, yet its geographic location lies within the auroral oval. It’s among the places to observe the Northern Lights in Canada, but you need to pick the right time.
Make sure you visit anytime between October and February. Besides the beautiful lights, there are various sceneries to fill your vision with. Spacious landscapes of nature surround the city from every side. You can explore them while waiting for the aurora to come into view.
7. Torngat Mountains National Park
Torngat Mountains National Park is a remote site that you only reach by plane, and it’s located in northern Labrador. Despite its isolation, the site rewards you with fascinating landmarks that you won’t find anywhere else.
This site is an epic one to hunt the Northern Lights in Canada, and it embraces various pristine mountains and valleys that you will enjoy their sights. Also, these picturesque sceneries maximize the beauty of the lights when they float right above them.
Tuktoyaktuk is a mainland that lies in the northern part of Northwest Territories. The locals usually refer to it as rather Tuk; they must be aware of how hard it is to pronounce it. Anyhow, this region requires you to dive too far into the north, and its strategic location puts it on top of the viewing places of the Northern Lights in Canada.
Other activities in Tuk include local hiking to explore the surrounding areas. You won’t find it crowded since its remoteness discourages many travelers from heading there. If you are into some true adventures, don’t miss this spot while being in Canada. There is so much to see and explore.
9. Mont Mégantic National Park
Canada is home to a wide array of national parks. Adding one more to the list, Mont Mégantic National Park is a prominent destination a few hours from Québec. Several activities take place at this location, including skiing, hiking, gliding, snowshoeing, and even camping.
On top of the Mont Mégantic mountain lies an observatory of the same name. Stargazing organization is the most common activity done there. However, since the park is a little isolated from the cities, it’s among the perfect bases to see the Northern Lights in Canada. You can head to the observatory and try to catch the aurora while it’s around.
10. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
Saskatchewan is one of the best provinces to view the Northern Lights in Canada clearly. However, tourists usually overlook it for being close to popular destinations that significantly draw the crowds. Also, the province has the lowest population density in Canada, which means less light pollution.
This province’s tranquility and fewer crowds call for utter dark skies in different regions, including Cypress Hills. This site encompasses several natural landscapes and expansive sky views. Consequently, it increases your chances of successfully catching the aurora. So, make sure you head there to see the lights.
11. Muncho Lake Provincial Park
Since areas secluded from major cities are the best to view the Northern Lights in Canada, you should head to Muncho Lake Provincial Park. This spacious park sits in the northern part of British Columbia, and it serves as a great stop-off point while on a long road trip.
The park’s location allows for better chances of seeing the dark skies filled with colorful aurora. Meanwhile, you can explore the region where you may spot myriad forms of wildlife. You can also take a cold dip in the lake to refresh your body.
12. Kejimkujik National Park
Kejimkujik National Park is one of the largest and significant main parks in Nova Scotia. It spans the Atlantic coast, with the turquoise water hugging the white-sanded shore. This area is also a protected wilderness where you can spot coastal wildlife and observe rare flora.
Nova Scotia’s coastline calls for stargazing while serenely lying in nature. It is also an ideal place to spectacle the Northern Lights in Canada. The catch here is that you get to observe staggering landmarks, including the iconic lighthouses. Since fishing is a primary activity in this province, you can satisfy your craving by indulging in fresh seafood.
Manitoba is quite famous for being home to polar bears, especially in the Arctic area of Churchill. It is also home to the renowned Hudson Bay. Churchill lies too far in the north, placing itself among the destinations of the Northern Lights in Canada. Maximize the fun of your trip by exploring the area with all that it offers.
The best part is that you get to see the northern lights from any point in Churchill. It is also common among the locals to turn the lights off to allow the aurora to be in full force. The tundra buggy is also a great way to go on a wildlife safari while watching the glaring skies.
14. Thunder Bay
We may have emphasized the significance of remote areas to see the aurora. However, there are some crowded destinations that you can put on the list and still get to view the northern lights. Ontario happens to be one of those destinations. It’s a highly populated province, but it still falls within the spots of viewing the Northern lights in Canada.
Interestingly, Ontario still offers destinations where the skies are utterly dark, allowing the aurora to manifest itself. Thunder Bay city is a great spot in Ontario to anticipate the appearance of the aurora borealis. The spectacle will also be a hundred times better when the bright sky is reflected in the still waters of Lake Superior.
15. Mount Carleton Provincial Park
New Brunswick is one of the Canadian provinces to attract tourists every year, and one of its attractions is Mount Carleton, Provincial Park. Adventure gurus like to hike up to Mount Carleton Summit despite its difficulty, and it may also take long hours to get to the peak.
If hiking isn’t your thing, you can still take advantage of the open space. The park is rated as a dark preserve where it’s ideal to pursue the Northern Lights in Canada. However, your trip to Mount Carleton may need a few days of planning since the services there are pretty limited. Don’t let that discourage you, though, for that is what actually reduces the light pollution to view the lights.
16. Bruce Peninsula National Park
Bruce Peninsula National Park is a haven in Ontario for nature lovers, and it is also a great destination for those who love to keep their legs moving. This park welcomes visitors all year long, offering spots for hiking, skiing, and camping. There are more than a few views and locations to explore around the national park.
Moreover, the light pollution in this area is relatively minimal. When the dark takes over during the winter months, the skies are pretty clear. Thus, this spot is an ultimate goal for those pursuing the Northern Lights in Canada. You can fill your vision with the hypnotizing skies while exploring the beautiful coast of Georgian Bay.
17. La Ronge
Here’s one more site that will take deep enough into the far north. La Ronge is a community that spans along the shores of Lac La Ronge in Central Saskatchewan. While this province is usually overlooked, it offers fascinating sceneries thanks to its vast islands that hug the coasts.
The open spaces in this area make a great spot to witness the Northern Lights in Canada. Being situated in the far north also makes it easy to pursue the aurora on a clear night. The site is also suitable for outdoor activities that suit travelers who love to pair adventures with their pursuit of lights. Hiking, fishing, paddling are among the popular activities in La Ronge.
18. Kouchibouguac National Park
New Brunswick is a rich province in Canada in so many aspects, and it is also one of the ideal provinces to watch the Northern Lights in Canada for hosting several dark sky preserves. Kouchibouguac National Park is one more destination to add to your list if you wish to see the sky brightening with colors.
The park sits in the central part of the coast of New Brunswick. It is located far from the polluting lights of the major cities, with barrier islands and lush forests protecting it. Camping is among the outdoor activities of this site as travelers flock there and wait for the lights. You may also spot fascinating wildlife while exploring the outdoor landscapes.
19. McDonald Park Dark Sky Preserve
Canada is home to several dark sky preserves, and McDonald Park happens to be one of them. It is a popular destination that attracts tourists for its great stargazing spots. Also, its location plays a significant role in the surge in the number of tourists every year. McDonald Park sits in British Columbia, where Vancouver province lies in the southwest corner.
The nearby location of a major city will make you add many destinations to your bucket list. However, don’t let its close location to a crowded city discourage you. It won’t reduce the chances of the appearance of the lights. For that reason, it is rated as a dark preserve, for it’s among the ideal spots to view the Northern Lights in Canada.
20. Gulf Shore Parkway
Prince Edward Island is, honestly, a spot with slim chances to see the Northern Lights in Canada. The island sits so far south where light pollution is quite high. However, it really offers fantastic destinations that you can visit during the daytime.
If you are set to visit this island during your trip, we’ll guide you to some spots where luck may come. Gulf Shore Parkway can offer more than a few spots where the sky is soaked in utter darkness.
21. Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park is one of the main parks in Saskatchewan, where it meets the U.S. borders from the south. The park is made of vast spaces, embracing a large number of wild animals that you can casually spot while exploring the outdoors. This site is also home to dinosaur bones around which tourists gather.
Since the park is a vast natural landscape, it offers lots of open spaces to view the aurora. There is so much darkness in the region’s skies to work with, which makes it a perfect destination for the Northern Lights to show up.
Located in the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife is one of the most prominent places to watch the Northern Lights in Canada. It has a strategic arctic location that enables too much darkness to dominate the skies. The profuseness of lighthouses is a beneficial addition as it alerts the locals when a possibility of an auroral show is anticipated.
With the many landmarks that you can visit in Yellowknife, Pilots Monument remains on top. Visitors can climb to the monument’s peak for better viewing of the northern lights. You can also go for a boat launch to maximize your spectral experience by exploring the arctic waters as well.
23. Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve
Fortunately, Ontario is home to several dark sky preserves, including Torrance Barrens. Besides being a nice spot to view the lights, it possesses interesting geologic features. The natural preserve encompasses several barren rocks, hence the name. Professional photographers usually use these rocks to set their cameras and capture the auroral wonder.
Torrance Barrens sits too far away from the lights of major cities, and the reduced light pollution makes it an ideal spot to chase the Northern Lights in Canada. If the camera happens to be your best buddy, then, undoubtedly, head to Ontario and record the magnificent abilities of the sky.
Kuujjuaq is another option to watch the aurora in Québec right after Mont Mégantic. It comes second because of its secluded location in the far north, and real hunters of the Northern Lights in Canada don’t mind, literally, going the extra miles into the north.
The chances here are better thanks to the utterly dark skies. Kuujjuaq community sits in the northernmost part of Québec province. The further from the city lights, the higher chances of seeing the lights floating overhead.
Iqaluit is the capital city of Nunavut province which appears as an island that sprawls out into the Arctic Ocean. The town is home to a small population of Canadians. It is also a great spot to view the Northern Lights in Canada, thanks to its remoteness and minimal artificial light sources.
What makes this site stands out among the others on the list is being home to several impact craters. Another form of natural wonder that reminds us of the splendor of our planet. These meteorite outcomes are also the only ones left throughout the whole planet.
26. Elk Island National Park
Alberta hosts several vast lands that stretch over long miles; thus, they’re protected as national parks. Elk Island National Park is a great destination for adventure lovers for the variety of outdoor activities presented there.
Also, this national park is rated as a dark sky preserve and an ideal destination for the Northern Lights in Canada. Although Jasper National Park makes tourists overlook Elk Island for lying quite close, they tend to miss out on several picturesque sceneries.
Now that you’ve known that Northern Lights in Canada are splendid celestial displays you shouldn’t miss, it’s time to pick up one of the mentioned spots and book your flight.