The northern lights have fascinated humans from the earliest times. Also known as aurora borealis, which comes from the Latin words for sunrise and north, the natural phenomenon can take many shapes and hues. From colors that dance across the night horizon, to spears of light that lance the sky, the Northern Lights can be seen throughout the year over the middle and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, including Rainy Lake.
When to View
It’s been estimated that the northern lights can be seen 200 times per year in Northern Minnesota. The best time to see them is when the arrival of the solar radiation and particles corresponds with an evening when moonlight is at a minimum and the weather is clear. Auroras seem to be more active near the first day of spring and fall, and your chances of seeing them are best when there are more hours of darkness. You can determine which nights have better chances by checking out “aurora forecasts” online such as the one from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
Where to See the Show
Rainy Lake and Voyageurs National Park are ideal places to watch northern lights because of the area’s miles of wilderness that is free from the light pollution present in cities. In addition to a moonless, clear night, you need open views to the North and Northeast.
Suggested locations to view the northern lights in Voyageurs National Park:
Rainy Lake Visitor Center
Ash River Visitor Center
Voyageurs Forest Overlook Parking Lot
Check out this awesome Time-Lapse of Voyageurs National Park Featured in National Geographic!