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Seeing the Northern Lights in Canada – Best time and places
But, are there Northern Lights in Canada?
While this question might sound surprising to you, many people actually don’t know that you can see the Northern Lights in Canada. After we posted about seeing Northern Lights for the first time on our Canadian Rocky trip, we received many messages from travelers who wanted to visit Canada but didn’t know that it is possible to see the phenomenon in some locations and times.
Can you imagine dreaming about seeing the Northern Lights all your life, then traveling to an incredible destination as Canada and miss out the experience because you didn’t know it’s there?
With this article, we hope to put Canada on the map as a Northern Lights destination. Besides, of course, we will tell you the best time and places to see the Northern Lights in Canada so you can cross this unique experience off your bucket list.
Best time to see the Northern Lights in Canada
Before talking about the best time to see the Northern Lights in Canada, I would like to introduce the concept of KP briefly. (You may be interested to know what the Northern Lights are and what causes them)
In summary, the Northern Lights are formed when solar particles collide with the Earth’s atmosphere. These particles are attracted to the poles of the globe due to low magnetism of them.
The intensity of the solar particles is measured by the KP index, on a scale from 0 to 9. Higher value means better chances for you to see Northern Lights from places further away from the poles. Or, to put it another way, it is more likely for us to see Northern Lights in the further north regions of Canada, even if KP is not too high.
However, bear in mind that as we travel further north, there will be fewer dark hours during summer months, and darkness is an essential requirement for seeing the Northern Lights.
This factor is key when planning your trip to see the Northern Lights in Canada. The best months to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada are from October to March (most hours of darkness).
However, if we want to see the Northern Lights in Canada in August or another summer month, a high KP in the southern parts (still fewer hours of darkness) would give you the best chances to see Aurora Borealis.
In short, the Northern Lights can be seen all year round in Canada, but much easier during winter. Depending on the dates of your trip, head to the north during winter and south during summer to maximize your chances.
Above all, to know when to see the Northern Lights, we strongly recommend setting an alarm system at all times to alert you when KP index suddenly increase. (Learn how to check the Northern Lights forecast here).
SUMMING UP, THIS IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE THE AURORA BOREALIS IN CANADA:
- September and October: Statistically there are usually very high KPs during these months and it is easy to see auroras in Canada even though the days are not as long as in winter.
- November, December, January, and February: The days are very short and the nights are very dark, so it is easy to see northern lights in the North when the skies are clear.
- March and April: As it happened with the equinox of autumn, with the one of spring statistically also many Auroras Borealis are seen in Canada .
Where to see Northern Lights in Canada
As we have seen in the previous section, the best places to see northern lights, or at least where there will be more possibilities, are in Northern Canada during the winter months.
This makes the Yukon and Northwest Territories best destinations of Canada to see the Northern Lights. This, however, does not mean that we won’t be able to enjoy an excellent display of lights in other areas of Canada.
Below, you will learn about the best places, divided by territory/province:
1. Best place to see Northern Lights in Canada – Yukon
Yukon is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the World, per its latitude and location. In Whitehorse, a top destination, we can even find some of the best Northern Lights hotels in Canada. One of these hotels is the Northern Lights Resort & Spa where you can book Chalets with large glass windows for viewing the Aurora Borealis under a warm interior.
Best Northern Lights hotels in Yukon
Northern Lights Resort & Spa
If you want to make your Northern lights trip an unforgettable experience, the top option is the luxury and private wooden huts of the Northern Lights Resorts & Spa.
This resort offers relax and privacy in their new wooden cabins with Sauna, jacuzzi, restaurant, fireplaces and the best feature: A huge terrace to enjoy the Aurora away from the city lights.
Hidden Valley Bed and Breakfast
Just 20 minutes away from the heart of Whitehorse and away from most of the light pollution, the Hidden Valley Bed and Breakfast is one of the best choices for travelers chasing the Northern Lights in Yukon.
It offers a big outdoor terrace to see the Aurora, nice breakfast and a rustic cozy decoration to change your scene and enjoy this magical show.
Another top accommodation to see the Aurora in Yukon, this time from Dawson City, is the Aurora Inn. They offer great quality food, some rooms with Jacuzzi, and the opportunity to just take a step away and see a display of Northern Lights.
Just 30 minutes away from Whitehorse and in a superb location to see the Northern lights by the Yukon River, the Sundog Retreat offers homey wooden huts, sauna, and an outdoor jacuzzi to see the Northern lights safe and warm.
Triple B Bed n Breakfast
Our last suggested accommodation to see the Aurora in Yukon is the Triple B B&B, where you’ll enjoy the typical wooden huts with sauna in the middle of the forest.
The location is also superb for seeing the Aurora in Yukon; not too far from Whitehorse but far enough to stay away from light pollution and enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by the boreal forest.
2. Best place to see Northern Lights in Canada – Northwest territories
Another perfect place to see Northern Lights in Canada would be the Northwest Territories, where its capital, Yellowknife, is one of the most famous locations to enjoy this phenomenon. There are also numerous hotels and activity centers related to the Northern Lights here.
Best Northern Lights hotels in Yellowknife
GRACE LAKE VILLA
Very close to Yellowknife but at the same time isolated by the Grace lake, you’ll feel like home at the Grace Lake Villa.
The location is one of the best to see the Aurora Borealis in the Northern Territories of Canada.
Jenny’s B&B offers the ultimate experience to see the Northern lights in Yellowknife; Hunting Aurora tours where a professional guide will take you in a Northern light chasing tour, and Aurora viewing experiences in Cabins and Teepees.
The accommodation is more a classic house B&B than a hotel, so if you are not so interested in luxuries but more into the Aurora borealis experience, this is a very interesting option.
Lou & Francis Guest House
The Lou & Francis Guesthouse cares about every detail to make your stay and Northern lights trip in the Northwest territories unforgettable.
The service and food are one of the best rated in Yellowknife.
Amazing Aurora B&B
If your plan is to see the Aurora from a beautiful location, the lake views of the Amazing Aurora B&B are unbeatable.
From this accommodation, you’ll enjoy the Northern lights reflected in the lake, one of the most impressive ways to see the Aurora.
Capital Suites Yellowknife
If you are looking for a more classic hotel, the Capital Suites Yellowknife might be your best bet. They offer a free transfer service from the airport, all the services you can find in standard hotels, and one of the best locations to chase the Aurora in all Canada.
Another city in this territory to be considered per its northern latitude would be Tuktoyaktuk.
3. Where to see Northern Lights in Canada – Nunavut
In the remote and arctic Nunavut Territory, we can also see the aurora in its capital, Iqaluit, on the Baffin Island. This is perhaps one of the coldest and most remote and uninhabited places to experience the Northern Lights.
Best Northern Lights hotel in Nunavut
The Frobisher Inn
If your dream is to see the Aurora from a very remote and original location, the Frobisher Inn, in the city of Iqaluit, is not only your best but very likely your only option to see the Northern lights in the Arctic Nunavut territory.
The complex offers all the facilities of a standard hotel, with restaurants, gym, and spacious rooms.
4. Best place to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada – Manitoba
Also located at a high latitude, the city of Churchill in Northern Manitoba is another Northern Lights destination. We can find companies specializing in Northern Lights Tours here.
In addition to Northern Lights, we can also try a polar bear watching excursion in Churchill between September and November, combining two exciting activities in one trip.
Best Northern Lights hotels in Manitoba
A Frame Chalet
There aren’t many options for Northern lights accommodation in Manitoba, but in this rustic wooden chalet, you’ll be in the perfect spot to see the Northern lights in Churchill.
They also offer a service of transfer to the airport.
More simple and affordable accommodation in Churchill is the Iceberg Inn; a small hostel offering all the basics to enjoy your Northern lights trip to Churchill.
5. Best place to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada – Quebec
To maximize the possibilities of seeing the Northern Lights in Quebec, we will have to head to the northern parts of this province, like Kuujjuaq for instance.
6. Best place to see the Northern Lights in the Canadian Rockies
At lower latitudes, the best place to see Northern Lights in Canada would be British Columbia/Alberta and the Canadian Rockies in general. Within the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park would be the best places.
To estimate your chances to see Northern Lights in other places further south, we should be kept up to date on KP prediction and check if we are at a good enough latitude:
If you want to see Northern Lights in a more photogenic environment, we would personally opt for the Canadian Rockies.
Here, the chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis are as high as in other territories at similar latitudes, such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, or Quebec. However, the incredible Canadian Rockies landscapes will make our Northern Lights photos even more amazing.
Best Northern Lights hotels in the Canadian Rockies
Jasper Inn & Suites
Offering some of the darkest skies in all of North America, Jasper is one of the best locations to see the Northern lights in the Canadian Rockies.
The Jasper Inn & Suites offers a high-quality hotel with a modern bar, terrace, swimming pool, Sauna and more facilities to make your stay in Jasper unforgettable.
Emerald Lake Lodge
I am a bit biased about the Emerald Lake Lodge. There I was lucky to see the Northern Lights for the first time in my life, in a show that will always remain in my memories.
The wooden cabins are rustic and a bit old-fashioned, but the food is superb, and the location is probably the best I’ve ever seen right in the middle of the most beautiful lake in the Canadian Rockies.
Top places to see Northern Lights in Canada
In short, these are the 10 best places where Northern Lights in Canada are seen:
- Whitehorse – Yukon: One of the most popular places to take an Aurora Tour in Canada.
- Yellowknife – Northwest Territories: The best place to see Northern Lights in Canada in winter.
- Tuktoyaktuk – Northwest Territories: It is not so popular but the chance to see Northern Lights here is high.
- Iqaluit – Nunavut: One of the coldest places to see Northern Lights in Canada.
- Churchill – Manitoba: Besides of Northern Lights, it is one of the best places to see Polar Bears.
- Kuujjuaq – Quebec: Although difficult, this is the best place to see Northern Lights in Quebec.
- Banff – Alberta: The chances to see Northern Lights here are lower since it is in South Canadá but with a high KP (more than KP6) you can see them.
- Jasper – Alberta: Jasper has the darkest skies so if there is a high KP (more than KP6) it is a good place to see Northern Lights in Canada.
Pay attention to darkness as a factor for choosing your Northern Lights destination. Stay away from major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, where light pollution will mask the Aurora Borealis.
Same goes for clouds – if the sky is covered, you will miss the show. Use a weather forecast system to search for the clearest possible skies. For Canada, you can use this website to assess cloud prediction for the next 48 hours on an interactive map .
Best Northern Lights Tours in Canada
Although there is a wide variety of options and attractions for tourism in Canada, one of the most requested is the Northern Lights, since it is the best place to see this phenomenon in North America. You can even hire some of the best trips to see the northern lights in the World, with durations of between 5 to 15 days.
If you are interested in taking a trip to see Northern Lights in Canada, you should know that there are specialized agencies offering what they call Aurora Borealis Packages in Canada. These tours usually take place from October to March, most of them in the Yukon where there are also one-night tours to see the Northern Lights like this one.
Do not miss where and when to see the Northern Lights in Canada. Aurora Borealis in the Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alberta or Quebec.