how to see the northern lights in canada

Seeing the Northern Lights in Canada – Best time and places

You can see the Northern Lights in Canada and the good news is that you can see them year-round, depending on the area. 

The last time we saw them there was at the end of May during our Canadian Rocky trip, which is outside of the typical Canada Northern Lights season.

In this article, I’ll help you find the best time and places to see the Northern Lights in Canada so you can cross this unique experience off your bucket list.

northern lights in alberta canada

Ready to put Canada on the map as your next Northern Lights destination?

Best time to see the Northern Lights in Canada

The best months to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada are from October to March (most hours of darkness). However, if you want to see the Northern Lights in Canada in August or another summer month, days with high solar activity in the southern provinces will give you the best chance to see Aurora.

If you are flexible with your dates, I’d recommend either late September or March to plan your Canadian Aurora trip since the solar activity that causes the Northern Lights is higher during that period closer to the fall and spring equinox. 

However, as we travel further north, there will be fewer hours of darkness during the summer months, so always consider the hours of light when planning your trip to see the Northern Lights in Canada. 

northern lights can be seen in canada

Also, I strongly recommend setting an app alarm system to know when to see the Northern Lights so you don’t miss any show. (You can find some Northern Lights forecast tips here).

SUMMING UP, THIS IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE THE AURORA BOREALIS IN CANADA:
  • September and October: Statistically, there is a high solar activity during these months and it is easier to see auroras in Canada even though the days are not as long as in winter.
  • November, December, January, and February: The days are very short and the nights are very dark, so it is easy to see northern lights in the North when the skies are clear.
  • March and April: The spring equinox is also a very good time to enjoy a great display of Northern Lights in Canada.

Where to see Northern Lights in Canada

The best places to see the Aurora Borealis in Canada are in the northern provinces from the early fall to the early spring when there are more hours of darkness.

In short, these are the 7 best places to see the Northern Lights in Canada:
    1. Whitehorse – Yukon: One of the most popular places to take an Aurora Tour in Canada.
    2. Yellowknife – Northwest Territories: The best place to see Northern Lights in Canada in winter.
    3. Churchill – Manitoba: Besides Northern Lights, it is one of the best places to see Polar Bears in November. 
    4. Banff & Jasper – Alberta: These are the best locations to see the Aurora in Canada during the summer.
    5. Tuktoyaktuk – Northwest Territories: It is not so popular but the chance to see Northern Lights here is high.
    6. Iqaluit – Nunavut: One of the remotest places to see Northern Lights in Canada.
    7. Kuujjuaq – Quebec: Although difficult, this is the best place to see Northern Lights in Quebec.

northern lights tour yukon canada

And these are the best places to see the Northern Lights in Canada divided by territory/province:

1. Whitehorse (Yukon)

Yukon is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the World, following its latitude and location. In Whitehorse,  the “Aurora capital” in Yukon, we can even find some of the best Northern Lights hotels in Canada. One of these hotels is the Northern Lights Resort & Spa where you can book Chalets with large glass windows for viewing the Aurora Borealis under a warm interior.

Northern Lights Resort & Spa

If you want to make your Northern lights trip an unforgettable experience, the top option is the luxury and private wooden huts of the Northern Lights Resorts & Spa.

This resort offers relax and privacy in their new wooden cabins with Sauna, jacuzzi, restaurant, fireplaces and the best feature: A huge terrace to enjoy the Aurora away from the city lights.

Hidden Valley Bed and Breakfast

Just 20 minutes away from the heart of Whitehorse and away from most of the light pollution, the Hidden Valley Bed and Breakfast is one of the best choices for travelers chasing the Northern Lights in Yukon.

It offers a big outdoor terrace to see the Aurora, nice breakfast and a rustic cozy decoration to change your scene and enjoy this magical show.

Aurora Inn

Another top accommodation to see the Aurora in Yukon, this time from Dawson City, is the Aurora Inn. They offer great quality food, some rooms with Jacuzzi, and the opportunity to just take a step away and see a display of Northern Lights.

SUNDOG RETREAT

Just 30 minutes away from Whitehorse and in a superb location to see the Northern lights by the Yukon River, the Sundog Retreat offers homey wooden huts, sauna, and an outdoor jacuzzi to see the Northern lights safe and warm.

Triple B Bed n Breakfast

Our last suggested accommodation to see the Aurora in Yukon is the Triple B B&B, where you’ll enjoy the typical wooden huts with sauna in the middle of the forest.

The location is also superb for seeing the Aurora in Yukon; not too far from Whitehorse but far enough to stay away from light pollution and enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by the boreal forest.

 

Also, you can find one-night Northern Lights tours in Whitehorse.

 

2. Yellowknife (Northwest territories)

Another perfect place to see Northern Lights in Canada is the Northwest Territories, where its capital, Yellowknife, is one of the most famous locations to enjoy this phenomenon. There are also numerous hotels and activity centers related to the Northern Lights here.

GRACE LAKE VILLA

Very close to Yellowknife but at the same time isolated by the Grace lake, you’ll feel like home at the Grace Lake Villa.

The location is one of the best to see the Aurora Borealis in the Northern Territories of Canada.

Jenny’s B&B

Jenny’s B&B offers the ultimate experience to see the Northern lights in Yellowknife; Hunting Aurora tours where a professional guide will take you in a Northern light chasing tour, and Aurora viewing experiences in Cabins and Teepees.

The accommodation is more a classic house B&B than a hotel, so if you are not so interested in luxuries but more into the Aurora borealis experience, this is a very interesting option.

Lou & Francis Guest House

The Lou & Francis Guesthouse cares about every detail to make your stay and Northern lights trip in the Northwest territories unforgettable.

The service and food are one of the best rated in Yellowknife.

Amazing Aurora B&B

If your plan is to see the Aurora from a beautiful location, the lake views of the Amazing Aurora B&B are unbeatable.

From this accommodation, you’ll enjoy the Northern lights reflected in the lake, one of the most impressive ways to see the Aurora.

Capital Suites Yellowknife

If you are looking for a more classic hotel, the Capital Suites Yellowknife might be your best bet. They offer a free transfer service from the airport, all the services you can find in standard hotels, and one of the best locations to chase the Aurora in all Canada.

 

Another city in this territory to be considered at a higher latitude is Tuktoyaktuk, but it’s more remote and offers fewer activities than Yellowknife.

Best places to see Northern lights in Canada

3. Churchill Manitoba

Also located at a high latitude, the city of Churchill in Northern Manitoba is another Northern Lights destination. We can find companies specializing in Northern Lights Tours here.

In addition to Northern Lights, we can also try a polar bear-watching excursion in Churchill between October and November, combining two exciting activities in one trip.

A Frame Chalet

There aren’t many options for Northern lights accommodation in Manitoba, but in this rustic wooden chalet, you’ll be in the perfect spot to see the Northern lights in Churchill.

They also offer a service of transfer to the airport.

IceBerg Inn

More simple and affordable accommodation in Churchill is the Iceberg Inn; a small hostel offering all the basics to enjoy your Northern lights trip to Churchill.

 

4. Banff & Jasper (the Canadian Rockies)

At lower latitudes, the best place to see Northern Lights in Canada are the British Columbia/Alberta provinces and the Canadian Rockies in general. Within the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park and Jasper National Park would be the best places.

This is the first place where I saw the Northern Lights in Canada, and it’ll always be special for me. 

best season to see northern lights in canada toronto

To estimate your chances to see Northern Lights in other places further south, you should always consider the time of year and latitude:

If you want to see Northern Lights in a more photogenic environment, I would personally opt for the Canadian Rockies.

Here, the chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis are as high as in other territories at similar latitudes, such as British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, or Quebec. However, the incredible Canadian Rockies landscapes offer the perfect scenery to enjoy a great Aurora show. 

best places to do a northern light tour in canada

Jasper Inn & Suites

Offering some of the darkest skies in all of North America, Jasper is one of the best locations to see the Northern lights in the Canadian Rockies.

The Jasper Inn & Suites offers a high-quality hotel with a modern bar, terrace, swimming pool, Sauna and more facilities to make your stay in Jasper unforgettable.

Emerald Lake Lodge

I am a bit biased about the Emerald Lake Lodge. There I was lucky to see the Northern Lights for the first time in my life, in a show that will always remain in my memories.

The wooden cabins are rustic and a bit old-fashioned, but the food is superb, and the location is probably the best I’ve ever seen right in the middle of the most beautiful lake in the Canadian Rockies.

 

5. Iqaluit (Nunavut)

In the remote and arctic Nunavut Territory, we can also see the aurora in its capital, Iqaluit, on the Baffin Island. This is perhaps one of the coldest and most remote and uninhabited places to experience the Northern Lights.

The Frobisher Inn

If your dream is to see the Aurora from a very remote and original location, the Frobisher Inn, in the city of Iqaluit, is not only your best but very likely your only option to see the Northern lights in the Arctic Nunavut territory.

The complex offers all the facilities of a standard hotel, with restaurants, gym, and spacious rooms.

 

6. Kuujjuaq (Quebec)

To maximize the possibilities of seeing the Northern Lights in Quebec, you will have to head to the northern parts of this province, like Kuujjuaq for instance. However, this is a very remote area with difficult access and not many amenities.

 

Pay attention to darkness as a factor for choosing your Northern Lights destination in Canada. Stay away from major cities like Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, where light pollution will vanish the Aurora Borealis.

The same goes for clouds – if the sky is covered, you will miss the show. Use a weather forecast system to search for the clearest possible skies. For Canada, you can use this website to check the cloud forecast for the next 48 hours on an interactive map.

Best Northern Lights Tours in Canada

Although there is a wide variety of options and attractions for tourism in Canada, one of the most requested is the Northern Lights, since it is the best place to see this phenomenon in North America. You can even hire some of the best trips to see the northern lights in the World, with durations of between 5 to 15 days.

northern lights canada quebec

If you are interested in taking a trip to see the Northern Lights in Canada, you should know that there are specialized agencies offering what they call Aurora Borealis Packages in Canada. These tours usually take place from October to March, most of them in the Yukon where there are also one-night tours to see the Northern Lights like this one.

 

These packages typically include accommodation in a specialized Northern Lights hotel, a guided tour to see the Northern Lights, history lessons about the Yukon, the First Nations tribes that lived here, and the gold rush, which drove hundreds of dreamers to move out to the northern lands looking for gold and minerals.

northern lights images canada

If you have read our Canadian Rockies Photo Tour article, you must know that we are organizing different Group Photo Tours around the world for photography enthusiasts.

Canada is one of our next tours, so if you are not only interested in a trip focused on seeing the northern lights in Canada, but you are also a photographer (regardless of your level) and want to learn how to photograph it, contact us for our next Canadian Rockies Photo Tour in September 2022.

You may also be interested in joining our next Iceland photo tour, or our next Lofoten Islands photo tour. In both, we will photograph the incredible phenomenon of the Northern Lights with mesmerizing landscapes.

best time to see northern lights in canada

best Northern Lights images in Canada

You can enjoy and find inspiration with our best pictures of the Northern Lights in Canada that we have taken over the years in this gallery.

As a last tip, if you want to go home with incredible images of the Northern Lights in Canada, I strongly recommend reading our Guide to Photographing the Northern Lights.

Hope you enjoyed reading this article and we wish you a good Northern Lights chasing experience in Canada!


COFOUNDER & PHOTO TOUR LEADER

Dan is a professional nature and landscape photographer, photography educator, and co-founder of Capture the Atlas. His base camp is in California, USA, but he spends long periods of time exploring and photographing new locations around the world.

Apart from shooting the Milky Way, the Northern Lights, and any breathtaling landscape, he enjoys leading photo tours to some of the most photogenic places on Earth.

You can find more about Dan here.

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49 thoughts on “Seeing the Northern Lights in Canada – Best time and places

  1. Para says:

    Hi, Thanks for the useful information.
    I’m planning to go with my mother to Yukon to fulfil her dream about seeing the northern lights. I’ve done lots of research about the best time for increasing the chance of seeing the Aurora. Between February or March which month you suggest?
    I don’t want to disappoint her.
    Thanks

    • Dan Zafra says:

      I’d highly recommend beginning to mid March since the solar activity is usually higher during that period to see the Northern Lights in Canada or any other part of the world 😉

  2. Lauren says:

    I’m saving up for a trip to either Alaska or Iceland in 2025/26 during the next peak. My plan is to stay for about a month to ensure I get to see the lights. If you had a choice between any location at any time of year what would you choose for highest probability of seeing them? Is there any way to determine the areas with least cloud cover? I’d prefer not to freeze my toes off but if I need to go in February so be it. I just really want to ensure I don’t miss them.
    Thank you! this is a terrific site.

    • Dan Zafra says:

      Lauren,

      I’d opt for Iceland since it’s much easier to move around. September and March are usually great months in terms of solar activity, but there’s no way to predict the cloud forecast in places like Iceland or Alaska 😉

  3. Harsh says:

    Hello
    I am currently in Ontario and Northern Lights are in my bucket list i and curious where should i go where to stay, if anyone can help me through this it would me helpful for me

    • Dan Zafra says:

      Hey Harsh,

      Ontario is not the best place to see the Northern Lights in Canada. The best areas are very remote in the North of the Province. My advice is to visit Churchill, where you’ll have greater chances once the Aurora season kicks off.

      All the best in your Aurora chasing experience!
      Dan

  4. Mansi says:

    Hello. I really loved the article. Can you please suggest any places in Ontario for northern lights in October or November? What is usually the best time to view the northern lights in Ontario?

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hello Mansi,

      The best areas to see the Northern Lights in Ontario are located in the North of the Province close to the Hudson Bay, which is a very remote area with no facilities. My recommendation in November and October is to visit Churchill, Manitoba, where you can enjoy the Aurora and other activities like Polar bear watching 😉

      Best,
      Dan

  5. Yassir says:

    Hello I’d love to see the northern lights I’m near to Vancouver any chance to find in this period of the month (june) thanks

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Krystal,

      It’s an area I don’t personally know. However, I’ve seen some nice Aurora images from Prince Edward Islands.

      Wish you all the best in your Aurora chasing experience! 😉

  6. Juan says:

    Hi, great information thank you! How cloudy is in march? I was planning a trip to either Whitehorse or Yellowknife from March 22-25 but found that is very cloudy basically daily on several weather sites. What are the chances to see the auroras if its indeed that cloudy? what other places have more clear skies? thank you in advance!

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Juan,
      You need clear skies to see the Northern Lights. It’s a matter of having good luck. However, if you want to increase your chances, I would go to Iceland where you have at least a clear sky per week during the winter.

      Ascen.

    • Yukti Sehgal says:

      Hi there!

      Thanks for such an informative blog. Which place would you recommend visiting for the northern lights in September? I want to do a birthday trip with family so a less freezing location would be a great boon on the list.

      Thanks,
      Yukti

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      September is very early for the northern locations, so I would try in the Canadian Rockies. However, bear in mind you will need a high KP, something that only happens from time to time.

      Ascen

  7. David says:

    Hi from Australia!!

    I have booked a six week holiday in Canada from May 3 until June 16. I’ll be mostly focusing on the west half of Canada, so mostly BC, Alberta and possibly north of here too. I’ll be travelling by Campervan. I am a semi-professional photographer and I have never seen the Northern lights. I know its not the best time of the year to see them, but what locations are going to give me the best chance to see the Northern lights?

    Thankyou in advance!!
    David

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi David,

      Anywhere at the Canadian Rockies. At that time of the year, you will need at least a KP. All the pictures you see at this post were taken at the end of May with a KP of 7.6 🙂

      Download the app Aurora and wait for the best.

      Ascen

  8. Melissa Mairose says:

    We are looking for a great honeymoon destination to see the Northern lights February 2-8th do you have suggestions?

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Remy,

      You got many good places like Whitehorsem Yellowknife, Churchill…do your own research to see which place looks better for you and you’ll be ready to chase the Northern Lights!

      Wish you all the best during your Aurora experience,

      Dan

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Remy,

      You got many good places like Whitehorse Yellowknife, Churchill…do your own research to see which place looks better for you and you’ll be ready to chase the Northern Lights!

      Wish you all the best during your Aurora experience,

      Dan

  9. Cassondra says:

    Is there anywhere in Canada that would offer the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights in mid-May?
    Thanks so much!

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Cassondra,

      I saw them in mid-may from the Canadian Rockies. That latitude is probably the only one from where you can see the lights at that time of the year.

      On the other hand, chances are very low, since you need a huge display of Aurora to see the Northern Lights at that latitude. It’s rare but not impossible 😉

      Cheers,

      Dan

  10. Kim says:

    Hi there,

    My friends and I are thinking about making a trip to see the Northern Lights in Canada sometime in 2020. Where and when do you suggest is the best time to see the Northern Lights? Also, please include inns or hotels to stay in, and tours to see the Northern Lights. Your suggestions and advise is greatly appreciated.

    Thank you,

    Kim

  11. Shubha says:

    Hello! Thank you for such a detailed and informative article! Is there a place in Ontario where the Northern Lights can be seen during January-March? Thanks very much!

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Shubba,

      For seeing the Northern Lights in Ontario you will need a strong solar storm, something fairly unusual. If you want to see the Northern Lights in Canada, the closest place to Ontario having reasonable chances is Churchill, Manitoba.

      All the best,

      Dan

  12. jaime says:

    Hi,
    I want to start planning a trip for me and family to Seattle-Vancouver area, I just recently was told about chance to watch aurora borealis lights and definitely would like to include in my plan.
    Please let me know of nearest place from Vancouver you recommend for this and also best time to go, but trying to get a not so cold weather because of childs.
    Thanks.

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Jaime,

      Even though there are chances of seeing the Aurora in Seattle and Vancouver, the chances are extremely low since you need a very high solar storm (which is a very rare event). If you want to see the Northern lights in Canada, the closest place to go having a realistic chance is either Whitehorse or Yellowknife.

      In any case, I suggest downloading an Aurora Forecast app in case there is a big solar storm and you have the opportunity of seeing it when you visit the Seattle-Vancouver area.

      All the best during your trip and hope you can see the green lights!

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi!
      You have chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Yellowknife in November. All depends on the solar activity and clouds forecast.

      All the best in your Aurora chasing experience ;)!!

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Sandra, at the moment we don’t offer any tour to see the Northern Lights in Canada yet.

      However, we offer other tours for photographing the Aurora in Iceland and Norway. You can find more info here.

      Best,

      Dan

  13. Shey says:

    Such a great read, so much information.
    I will be looking at going to Canada over the Christmas new year period, i will be ticking off many bucket list items. Go to Canada, have a white Christmas, hopefully go on the Rocky mountaineer, and see the northern lights.
    If I do go on the rocky mountaineer – where would you suggest to see the northern lights

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      See the Northern Lights in the Rocky mountains is a matter of luck. You will need a KP over 6.5 at least and this doesn’t happen every year.

      We were very very lucky. If you are too, I will suggest you to go to Peyto Lake or Emerald Lake.

      Good Luck!

      Ascen

  14. Roselle says:

    Hi, thank you for this wonderful guide. I noticed that there is no listing for May. I will be visiting Yukon in May 2020, is there a possibility to see the Northern lights there? Thank you.

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Roselle,

      There is too much light at such latitude to see the Northern lights in Yukon in May.

      You’d better travel by as late as mid-April to see the Aurora in Canada in that region.

      Best,

      Dan

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hello,
    We’ll be visiting Whistler in late September. Do you think we’ll be able to see the northern lights there?

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi,

      Chances are very low as Whistler is not located at very high latitude.

      In any case, September is usually a very active month in terms of Northern Lights so I’d recommend to download the App Aurora and check it daily in case there is a big solar storm that could trigger a Northern Lights display there.

      All the best during your trip!

      Dan

    • Camila Pimentel says:

      Hey!!!! I’m Crazy in love for this Guide!! You’re amazing!!
      I’m from Brazil, and september 2020 i’m going to study english in toron, after that, I want spend 5 days hunting north lights…I was Reading a lot about, but now I’m delighted for you site!! So in the end of september, are you recommend me Canadian Rockies? I’d like camping there…It would be possible? Thanks a lot!!

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Camila,

      Camping in September at the Canadian Rockies is amazing. I would do it for sure. However, if you want to assure seeing the Northern Lights, I would go north (Yellowknife or Whitehorse).

      Whatever you choose, I am sure you are going to love it!

      Ascen.

  16. Craig Williams says:

    Hi. We will be visiting Canada in early September this year for 2 weeks and would love to see the Northern Lights if possible, what would be the best places to visit to potentially view them? We will be travelling from Vancouver to Toronto.

    • Capture the Atlas says:

      Hi Craig,

      I am afraid it is not the best time to see the Northern Lights but I would try in the Canadian Rockies for sure.

      Let me know if you need something else,
      Ascen.

  17. Aldric says:

    We’ll be in Ontario the first 3 weeks of September and we’d like to have our Mom and Dad get (in Mom’s bucket list) to see and experience the amazing NORTHERN LIGHTS. Mom and Dad are in their 70s. We’d also love to experience that with them. We were told YUKON would be a great site to go this SEPT. Please advise including inns or hotels to stay in. Thank you

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