Looking to knock something off your bucket list? Why not take in one of the seven natural wonders of the world, located right here in Canada? According to Travel and Leisure, the best time to view the famous Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, is from September to March. Canadians are fortunate to live in one of the best-suited climates and locations in the world to take in this dancing celestial display. 

As charged sun particles shoot down to our atmosphere, they collide with atoms to create Aurora Borealis. A combination of low light pollution, low moisture, cold temperatures, and a whole lot of luck make Aurora Borealis visible to us at these ideal times of the year.

The Northern Lights are notoriously fickle, so it isn’t easy to pinpoint when they will come out to play, but you can set yourself up for success at one of these five best spots to see the Northern Lights in Canada.

Churchill, where the Northern Lights are seen 300 days a year

Perfect spots to see the Northern Lights in Canada

1. Wapusk National Park, Manitoba

Churchill, Manitoba, is said to have 300 days of Aurora Borealis activity per year,  meaning you have plenty of chances to get to Wapusk National Park to experience this natural phenomenon. 

Wapusk National Park is located on the traditional territories of the Cree of York Factory, Fox Lake, Sayisi-Dene, and Inuit Nations. Named after the Cree word for polar bear, Wapusk National Park is one of the world’s largest polar bear denning areas. 

Stay in the beautiful town of Churchill, and pop over to the park at your leisure—admission is free! While you’re in the area, you can also visit: 

  • Itsanitaq Museum—explore some of the oldest and finest Inuit carvings and artifacts in the world, dating back as far as 1,700 BC;
  • Prince of Wales Fort National Historic Site—an astonishing fort built centuries ago, where you can take a tour, a scenic walk with a friend, or visit the historic train station; and
  • Lazy Bear Café—a lodge and café offering a one-of-a-kind dining experience in a hand-built log structure.

You can learn more about Wapusk National Park and plan your visit at the Parks Canada Website.

 Enjoy watching the Aurora display at Newfoundland and Labrador's Arches Provincial Park

The ideal place to see the elusive Northern Lights is at Arches

2. Arches Provincial Park, Great Northern Peninsula, Newfoundland and Labrador

For those who enjoy a combination of forest and beach adventures, you’ll enjoy catching the Aurora show at Arches Provincial Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

This park is home to the three iconic rock arches that give the area its name. These formations found along the shoreline are naturally occurring and date back millions of years. Pack yourself an evening picnic and settle in on the beach to enjoy the light show. Arches is a day-use park, meaning there’s no camping at this location, but admission is free and there’s plenty of parking available. 

Located near Gros Morne Park, Arches is a perfect location for sunsets, stargazing, and catching the elusive Northern Lights. Low light pollution in the area means you’ll be able to see details of the night sky those in town will miss. 

While in the area:

  • take in the sights along a drive up the Viking Trail on Highway 430, where you’ll encounter unusual rock formations pushed to the surface by tectonic forces, as well as two UNESCO World Heritage Sites;
  • spend the afternoon exploring the small harbour town of Parson’s Pond, which has a population of under 400 people and is 10 kilometres from large limestone formation created by glacial action, wind, and water erosion ; and
  • grab a bite and a trinket at Treasure Box, a craft shop in Gros Morne which grew to include a restaurant that’s been rated number on TripAdvisor.   
A view of the fascinating Northern Lights
Image via Mark Hill Photography on Flickr

 In Jasper National Park, you may experience the Aurora Borealis at its best

3. Jasper National Park, Alberta

Jasper National Park, home to traditional land stewards Anishinabe, Aseniwuche Winewak, Dene-zaa, Nêhiyawak, Secwépemc, Stoney Nakoda, Mountain Métis, and Métis Nations, is one of the most celebrated outdoor tourist destinations in the country. 

In 2022, it was named one of the 30 best national parks in the world by Outdoor Magazine. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is designated as one of 17 Canadian Dark Sky Preserves. With more than 11,000 square kilometres of parkland, this area free of artificial light pollution, is a fantastic spot to catch Aurora Borealis in action.

In Alberta, the Northern Lights are said to be most visible between February and April on clear dark nights. Visitors may consider popping into Old Fort PointLake AnnettePyramid Lake, or Maligne Lake to take in the display set against a scenic landscape tucked away in the mountains. 

Once you’ve taken in the Northern Lights, and you’re looking to explore the area, check out: 

  • the Winter Wildlife Discovery Tour—here’s your chance to spot elk, deer, sheep, goats, coyotes, wolves, and moose while your guide explains the history and geology of the area;
  • the Half-Day Jasper Culture Food Tour—a walking tour that shows you the best local spots in the area, complete with a tasting at each stop; and
  • the Maligne Canyon Ice Walk—explore ice caves and frozen waterfalls with navigation help from an experienced tour guide. 

Daily admission for Jasper National Park is $10.50 for adults and free for children. If you’re attending with your family, or up to seven people in a single vehicle, admission is just $21. Those who would like to camp overnight can do so, but costs depend on the services you’ll be using. 

In Jasper National Park, you may experience the Aurora Borealis at its best

Georgian Bay is the ideal location for tourists to watch the Northern Lights

4. Georgian Bay, Ontario

Historical shipwrecks, white pine forests, and a collection of 30,000 islands make up the Georgian Bay area of Lake Huron in Ontario. It’s also a prime spot for visitors looking to enjoy the Northern Lights reflecting off the lake in the winter. 

Situated in the Anishinaabek territory of Ojibway, Chippewa, Odawa and Pottawatomi peoples, Georgian Bay is the largest freshwater archipelago in the world. It’s a popular destination for folks seeking adventure. 

While in the area, it’s worth visiting the following:

Georgian Bay is the perfect stop for tourists looking for a place where they can snowshoe, skate, ski or go tubing during their winter visit, especially considering Ontario’s most popular and largest ski resort, Blue Mountain, overlooks the bay and nearby Collingwood.

View of the northern lights from Ontario's Georgian BayImage via Larry Lamsa on Flickr 

Northern Lights gazing in Whitehorse is renowned for its beauty

5. Whitehorse, Yukon

The further north you travel, the better your chances are to see the full extent of Aurora’s lights. Why? The colder air and less dense population result in clearer skies with greater visibility at night.

Yukon’s capital city, Whitehorse, is known for its role as a critical supply centre en route to Dawson City during the Klondike Gold Rush in the late 1800s. It’s also known for its beautiful Northern Lights display that can be seen almost year-round, but for your best chance at catching the lights, visit in the first few weeks of winter. Prep for a late night, as they’re reported to appear most during the sweet spot of 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. 

Whitehorse is located on the traditional territories of the ​​Kwanlin Dün First Nation. Approximately 25% of Yukon’s population are Indigenous Peoples.

While in the area, why not try your hand at angling in one of the many coveted fishing locations, or rent an RV and enjoy the serenity of the wilderness while camping? Looking to take in the sights and stay warm? Hop aboard the historic White Pass Railway for a scenic tour. 

From Alberta to Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario to Yukon Territory, seekers of the splendid sight of the Aurora Borealis are fortunate to have plenty of options in Canada! The next time you experience a frigid and clear night, peek upwards to the sky—who knows, you may be in for a treat!

Courtesy: realtor.ca

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