When is the best time to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights?
When Can I See the Aurora?
The Aurora is always up there! Sometimes, however, it cannot be seen because of unclear skies, rain, or snow. It also cannot be seen in the daylight, which is why we cannot see the Aurora in the Summer (if you cannot see the stars, you cannot see the Aurora). That is why the Aurora is best viewed in the Fall through the Spring, because we start to get more darkness.
Auroral intensity varies from night to night and throughout the night. The best viewing tends to be late evening to early morning hours, from 10PM-3AM. However, as long as it is dark and the skies are clear there is always a chance to see the Aurora!
How Long Should I Stay?
When booking your stay at the Resort, it’s best to stay at least two to three nights to have the best opportunity to see them.
Viewing the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis has been listed as one of the “top 100 things to do before you die” by the Travel Channel and in a survey of Japanese, it was listed as one of the top ten things they wanted to see on Earth, (second only to viewing the Pyramids).
Just like the weather reports, there is also an Aurora forecast! And just like a weather forecast, it is not always accurate, but it can still give you an idea of which days are predicted to have high Aurora activity.
To get an Auroral Forecast from the Geophysical Institute at the UAF click here.
Aurora at Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs Resort is world renowned for being one of the best places on Earth to see the northern lights. It is located under the most active band of northern lights, it is away from the light pollution of city lights, and the skies over Chena are clear more often than those over Fairbanks, 60 miles away. In addition, Alaska’s very cold weather tends to produce clearer skies.
For your viewing pleasure, Chena Hot Springs Resort provides a special “aurora wake up call” for guests staying in the Moose Lodge, since most aurora “shows” are more visible during that time frame
Your best bet is to take a nap before or after dinner and wake up around 10PM. Hang out in the Activity Center with other Aurora chasers and stay up until 3AM! As soon as the Aurora comes out, folks hanging out in the Activity Center will be flocking outside to get their first look at this phenomenon. It makes for a very exciting evening!
Locals will tell you that one of the best experiences one can have is sitting in the soothing natural hot springs rock lake at Chena Hot Springs Resort and watching the lights dance above your head!
You can also take the Aurora Snow Coach tour to the top of Charlie Dome mountain, where we have two Mongolian style yurts to keep you warm and serve you hot beverages and snacks. Up there you will have a 360° unobstructed view of the Northern Lights if they come out.