Alaska’s northern lights season is between mid-September and late April, peaking in March, though it’s a season defined more by its long, dark nights than by solar activity. Forecasting the northern lights means predicting solar activity, which is virtually impossible with our current technology.
Most tour companies will pick up guests from any Fairbanks hotel or accommodation as part of the package price. Evening tours run from 9 p.m. to about 4 a.m. and average $75 to $85 per person, while more extensive tours like the Northern Alaska fly/drive Arctic Circle viewing tour begins at $269 per person.
The best places in the world are usually closer to the Arctic Circle, including Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland. But don’t limit yourself: You can also spot the southern lights in the southern hemisphere. Still, the northern lights are the star of the show.
If you want to see the northern lights , you have to be in the right place at the right time. This makes April through September the best time to cruise to Alaska to see the northern lights , especially near the autumnal and vernal equinoxes, when activity peaks.
During the winter of 2020 , the Northern Lights viewing was typical for a solar minimum year . But from 2020 onwards, there will be a slow ramp-up in solar activity, and auroras should increase in frequency, peaking in 2024/2025 with the Solar Maximum. Read more about where to see the Northern lights here.
When is the best month to visit Alaska? You can’t go wrong visiting Alaska anytime between May 10 and September 15. The days are long, nature is in full bloom, and the air is alive with energy. But, for the absolute best time to visit Alaska, shoot for June 15 to July 15.
There is no official season since the Northern Lights are almost always present, day and night . Caused by charged particles from the sun hitting atoms in Earth’s atmosphere and releasing photons, it’s a process that happens constantly.
Coldfoot, a town in Alaska’s Brooks Range mountains, offers the best chance of witnessing the Alaska Northern Lights . With a slightly longer season than Iceland , stretching from mid-September through late April, Alaska is a great no-passport-required option for U.S. residents.
For example, in Fairbanks, the sunrise on this year’s summer solstice (June 20) is at 2:59 a.m. Sunset is at 12:47 a.m. the next day . For those two hours between sunrise and sunset, it’s basically dusk or dawn because it never actually gets dark . This all – day daylight occurs from May 17 through July 27 in Fairbanks.
In Fairbanks, Alaska, the sky glows with the aurora borealis . Located just two degrees below the Arctic near international airport and close to the impressive Denali National Park, Fairbanks is the best place in the U.S. to take in the northern lights .
The aurora is at its most active around the equinoxes in March and September . The Northern Lights most commonly appear between 5:00 pm and 2:00 am. They don’t usually exhibit for long – they may only show for a few minutes, then glide away before returning.
“Active periods are typically about 30 minutes long, and occur every two hours, if the activity is high. The aurora is a sporadic phenomenon, occurring randomly for short periods or perhaps not at all.”
Northbound Alaska cruises sail up the coastline through the Inside Passage and along Hubbard Glacier, so your best view of Alaska’s scenic landmasses are likely on the starboard side of the ship . Southbound Alaska cruises are the opposite.
If you are a U.S. Citizen and your Alaska cruise begins and ends in the same US port (Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles) you are not currently required to travel with a passport to Alaska . All cruise lines and WMPH Vacations highly recommend you carry a valid passport .
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