We often think about Alaska or Canada as being the place to see the Northern Lights, but there are actually many occasions where, due to high solar activity, the Northern Lights dip much further south. The further north you go the more likely you are to see the Northern Lights, but you’d be amazed at just how many places across the United States that you can see them. Here are 7 unlikely spots where you can see the Northern Lights in the United States!
Maine is the northernmost state in New England and one of the darkest, which makes it an excellent viewing spot for rare Northern Lights shows in the lower 48 states. A favorite viewing place is the Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is in a sparsely populated area which means dark skies are a’plenty. Clear winter nights make it a great place to see the Northern Lights.
For many, Idaho is nothing more than a flyover state. But if you want a good spot to see the Northern Lights in the lower 48, you’ve hit paydirt! The panhandle of Idaho near the border with Canada is a dark sky zone that makes seeing the Northern Lights much much easier than other states. About 3 years ago an especially strong storm lit up the sky around around Idaho Panhandle National Forests, and a lucky few got to see it in person!
Cook County in Minnesota rests at the northeastern tip of the state right along the shore of Lake Superior. It is sparsely populated and incredibly dark, making it an excellent place to watch the Northern Lights. The county is also home to Minnesota’s highest peaks and countless miles of hiking trails. Many locals say Oberg Mountain is the best spot to see the Northern Lights.
The northern tip of Michigan is perhaps the best place in the entire state to see the Northern Lights. Brockway Mountain is a favorite spot for seeing the aurora. The drive there is incredibly scenic and the mountain is free of light pollution. On nights where the aurora dips south, this is the place to go.
Ohio is perhaps one of the most unlikely states on this list, but it’s true! You can see the Northern Lights from Ohio under some pretty specific conditions. A massive solar storm is needed and you’ll need to be someplace that is completely free of any sky pollution. Get away from well-lit cities if the forecast is calling for the Northern Lights to dip that far south.
Compared to Ohio, Pennsylvania has a serious advantage when it comes to seeing the Northern Lights. Pennsylvania is home to a large Dark Sky Reserve called Cherry Springs State Park. Visitors are allowed to stay overnight and, when the Northern Lights are dipping southward, is the perfect place for you to catch the perfect shot of the aurora.
Like most places in the continental United States, it is rare to see the Northern Lights in Montana, but when they do come around, Glacier National Park is the place to go to see them. The park is beautiful and the skies are very dark. Locals consider Lake McDonald, just a few miles away from the West Glacier, to be prime real estate for seeing the aurora. Paddle a boat onto the lake and watch the aurora dance in the sky above you.