The Best Time to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

In a Nutshell: The best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is from September to March, with September or October recommended for milder weather.

Key Takeaways

  • September to March is the ideal period for Northern Lights in Alaska.
  • September and October offer milder weather and less snow.
  • January and February provide snowy landscapes and intense auroras.

When to See the Northern Lights In Alaska

Have you ever wondered when the best time to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights in Alaska is? 

A seasoned photographer, Stijn Borgers delves into this intriguing question, offering a detailed month-by-month guide for those eager to experience this natural marvel.

Temperature and Timing

Borgers starts by highlighting temperature as a key factor. “The Northern Light season goes from September to March,” he notes that the coldest months are January and February. 

For those preferring milder weather, early in the season – September or October – is the best time. These months offer a comfortable balance, allowing you to enjoy the lights without the harsh Arctic cold.

Snow’s Impact on Accessibility

Snow plays a significant role in planning your trip. Borgers explains, “When it snows a lot…some places might be inaccessible.” 

He suggests heavy snow from November to March can limit location choices and affect outdoor activities. 

Early-season travelers have better access to hiking trails, while later months offer winter-specific activities like dog sledding.

Seasonal Changes in Landscape

The landscape’s appearance throughout the Northern Lights season is also crucial. “In the beginning…you’ll be able to capture beautiful colors in the sky and the landscape,” Borgers states. 

As winter approaches, the scenery shifts to monotonous, snowy landscapes, offering different beauty. This transformation impacts not only the visual experience but also the photographic opportunities.

Tourism and Daylight Considerations

Tourism in Alaska peaks around Christmas and New Year’s, bringing higher prices and more crowded experiences. Borgers advises, “If you’re looking for a quieter experience, avoid going at that time.”

Additionally, the length of daylight varies significantly. The polar nights in winter bring extended darkness, ideal for viewing the lights, but limit daytime activities.

Equinoxes and the Moon’s Influence

Equinoxes, particularly around March 20th and September 20th, are believed to be conducive times for viewing the Northern Lights. Borgers mentions, “There are more geomagnetic storms…at this time.” 

However, longer daylight hours mean staying up later to catch the display. The moon’s brightness can affect visibility too. A full moon may outshine weaker auroras but can enhance stronger ones, creating a unique visual contrast.

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