8 Places in the United States Where You May Spot the Northern Lights

By: Stacey Leasca | Pulished on 2023-11-30

Where can you see the northern lights in the U.S.? The answer might surprise you.

8 Places in the United States Where You May Spot the Northern Lights-Trip AdvisePHOTO:ANTHONY NGUYEN/EYEEM/GETTY IMAGES


You don't need a passport to catch one of the world's most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Normally, you'd have to head north to destinations like Norway, Finland, and Iceland in hopes of catching a glimpse of the northern lights, and while all of these destinations are well worth traveling to, there are a few less-expected spots right here in the United States where you can see the spectacular celestial show.

 High solar activity is essential to seeing the lights, particularly in the U.S. When the sun emits superheated plasma, otherwise known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), it can trigger a massive "geomagnetic storm," which causes the Earth's auroras to ramp up. However, solar weather is hard to predict, so you'll need to be prepared (and have a little resiliency) for your best chance at an aurora light show. Use digital tools like NOAA's forecast tool and Night Sky Alerts to keep track of solar activity and be alerted to the best times to catch the northern lights in your area.


Locations in higher latitudes (which are closer to what's known as the "Aurora Oval," or the area with the strongest geomagnetic activity) are ideal for spotting the aurora borealis, so the phenomenon can be seen in the northern United States if the conditions are right. Longer, darker nights (like around a new moon) and clear skies are best. You'll also want to be aware of when the equinoxes occur (in September and March) because solar activity tends to be high around these times due to the Earth's tilt in relation to the sun.

With that in mind, here are eight of the best places to spot the northern lights in the U.S.

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