What Is The Best Way To Experience Northern Lights in Alaska?

Posted on August 8th, 2023

The ethereal dance of the Northern lights in Alaska is a spectacle that leaves an indelible mark on one's soul. 

Imagine the dark Alaskan sky coming alive with vivid hues of green, pink, and purple, painting a picture so surreal that it's etched in your memory forever. This natural marvel, also known as the aurora borealis, is one of nature's most astounding shows. But, like any show, there's a perfect seat in the house, a right time, and an ideal way to experience it. 

If the Northern lights are on your bucket list (and they definitely should be!), then Alaska offers the dream stage to witness them. And who better than us at Capture Wild Alaska to guide you through this celestial ballet? 

As experts in navigating Alaska's untouched beauty, we've got the insider tips to make your Northern lights quest a story worth retelling.

Decoding the Aurora Borealis

What Are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, or aurora northern lights, aren't just a fascinating visual treat; they are a celestial phenomenon born from the interactions between electrically charged particles from the sun and the Earth's atmosphere. When these particles collide with the gases in our atmosphere, they create this magnificent light show, illuminating the polar skies in a dazzling display.

The Magic of Alaska

Alaska, with its pristine landscapes and clear skies, offers one of the best canvases for this light spectacle. Sitting comfortably under the auroral oval, the state provides a front-row seat to some of the most vibrant and frequent displays of Northern lights anywhere in the world.

Picking Your Moment

While the lights have a mind of their own and can make an appearance any time of the year, winter months, specifically from late September to early April, are prime Northern lights Alaska viewing times. During these months, the longer, darker nights set the perfect backdrop for the lights to shine their brightest.

The Ideal Spots: Where Can You See the Northern Lights Best?

Venturing Beyond City Limits

The dazzling displays of the Northern lights in Alaska are best seen when you're away from the glaring lights of cityscapes. City lights cause what's known as light pollution, which can mask the subtle nuances of the auroras. So, if you truly want an immersive experience, aim for the rural, untouched parts of Alaska. It's in the serenity of its wilderness that the lights gleam the brightest.

The High Ground Advantage

Ever considered how the view from a mountaintop can be more enchanting than from the base? The same applies to viewing the aurora northern lights. Spots with a bit of elevation can offer clearer, unobstructed views, free from potential fog or low clouds. Plus, the panoramic view of the sky can be an added bonus!

Reflecting Beauty

Water, with its mirror-like qualities, can amplify the Northern lights experience tenfold. Imagine the dancing auroras not just overhead, but also reflecting off a tranquil Alaskan lake or river. It's a double treat for the eyes and the soul. So, when you're scouting locations, keep an eye out for places near water bodies.

Gear Up: Making the Most of the Experience

Dressing for Alaskan Nights

To truly enjoy the Alaska northern lights, you've got to be comfortable. And trust us, Alaska can get nippy! Layer up with thermals, followed by fleece or wool, and finish with a windproof outer layer. Don't forget the hats, gloves, and insulated boots. You want the chills to come from the spectacle above, not the temperature!

Capturing the Moment

If you're looking to immortalize your Northern lights experience, your smartphone might not cut it. A DSLR or mirrorless camera with manual settings is the way to go. Use a tripod for stability, opt for long exposures, and play around with the settings to get that perfect shot. Not a photography pro? No worries, that's where our Guided Photography Tours come into play!

Nature's Unpredictability

The northern lights are breathtaking, but they're also a bit elusive. They don't run on a timetable. Sometimes, they shimmer for a few fleeting moments; other times, they dance the night away. It's all part of the adventure. So, arm yourself with patience, perhaps a thermos of hot cocoa, and let Mother Nature take the lead.

Guided Tours: Capture Wild Alaska’s Specialty

Benefits of a Local Guide

Now, while Alaska is undeniably stunning, its vastness can be a tad overwhelming for newcomers. But worry not! A local guide, especially someone seasoned in chasing the Northern lights , can make all the difference. They know the secret spots, the untouched havens, and have a knack for predicting where the lights will shine their brightest.

Special Mention: Guided Photography Tours to Alaska

Looking for an experience that goes beyond just sightseeing? Our Guided Photography Tours offer both novice and expert photographers a unique opportunity. Not only do you get to witness the sublime Alaska northern lights, but with the guidance of our experts, you'll also capture them in their full glory. It's a learning journey, a visual treat, and a story waiting to be shared.

More Than Just Lights

But our tours are not just about the northern lights. They're about embracing Alaska in all its untamed beauty. From its majestic mountains to its serene lakes, and from its rich wildlife to its intricate ecosystems, it's a holistic Alaskan experience.

Tread Lightly: Respecting Alaska’s Natural Beauty

The ‘Leave No Trace’ Principle

The splendor of the Northern lights in Alaska draws many, but with great beauty comes great responsibility. We believe in the 'Leave No Trace' principle. It means enjoying the sights without leaving any footprints—be it litter, disturbances, or harm. After all, we want future generations to be as awestruck as we are today.

Being Mindful of Wildlife

Alaska is teeming with wildlife, from graceful caribous to awe-inspiring eagles. As you set out to chase the aurora northern lights, remember to respect their habitats. Keep a safe distance, avoid feeding, and remember, we are guests in their home.

Giving Back to Local Communities

The northern lights hold cultural and spiritual significance for many of Alaska's indigenous communities. As visitors, it's crucial to respect and honor their traditions, lands, and stories. Consider supporting local businesses and artisans during your trip; it's a gesture that goes a long way.


There you have it, folks! Experiencing the Northern lights Alaska isn't just a trip; it's an odyssey, a profound communion with nature, a tale of light, beauty, and reverence. And we, at Capture Wild Alaska, are here to make that journey unforgettable. 

If the Northern lights have whispered to your heart, don't wait. Reach out to us at (907) 799-7876 or drop an email at [email protected], and together, let's embark on a celestial ballet that's been millennia in the making. 

See you under the stars!

Get in Touch

Let's Embark on an Alaskan Adventure Together!

Thank you for your interest in Capture Wild Alaska! Whether you have questions about my week long photography tours in and around the beautiful state of Alaska or want to explore the magical Northern Lights that starts September 15th 2023. You can also check out our awesome merchandise, drop us a line below. (Merchandise will be added mid month 8/23.)