The Pack Report

The Northern Lights – What Are They and Where To See Them

The Northern Lights

Imagine the beauty of lucid colors dancing across the night sky. Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are known as the magical Northern and Southern Lights. Many people wish to see these natural light shows at some point in their life. It is truly a spectacular phenomenon that captures the essence of the Northwoods.

The Northern Lights are somewhat of a complicated process. As electrons from the sun collide with particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, a reaction occurs. These particles combine with oxygen and nitrogen and cause an excited response that produces the colors we see. The lights waver and flow because they are pulled along by magnetic fields to both the North and South Pole. There is much science going on than just this; more information on the Aurora Borealis can be found at,

There are quite a few places where one can watch the Northern Lights. The Southern Lights are usually seen less because of their location in Antarctica. Either way, both light shows are spectacular and worth seeing. A few great places to see the Northern Lights are Norway, Alaska, and Iceland. These locations are known for more frequent light appearances. You can sometimes see the lights in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness and other parts of Northern Minnesota – including our hometown of Duluth.

From the end of September to the end of March, Norway’s daylight hours shrink. Due to the reduced sunlight, the Northern Lights appear more often. The light disco is not the only beautiful show; incredible mountain landscapes and natural beauty are visible across Norway. If you get the chance, definitely travel to Norway and see the Northern Lights.

Another great place to watch is Alaska. Known for pristine wilderness and untouched nature, Alaska is a top-notch spot for iconic Northern Lights views. One can see the lights from August through April. Besides watching lights, Alaska offers many awesome outdoor adventure activities, from hiking to dog sledding.

Iceland is yet another great place to travel to and watch the Northern Lights. Known for its unique natural landscapes, Iceland has plenty of opportunities for those looking to catch a glimpse of the nighttime colors. Situated in the north’s cold regions, there are more chances of seeing the Aurora in Iceland.

Surprisingly, one can also see the Northern Lights in the Boundary Waters Area and Wilderness in Minnesota. Though it is rare, the area is far enough away from light pollution and gets cold enough during the winter months. If all of the right components are in effect, one can sometimes see the lights here. A great BWCAW place to watch is the Clearwater Lodge, located right off the Gunflint Trail.

If solar energy is strong enough, you can even see the Northern Lights in Northern Minnesota. Wintertime in Duluth provides plenty of dark hours and cold weather for the Aurora to show its colors. With reduced light pollution and the right conditions, one can see the lights from their backyard!

We want to emphasize that no matter where you go, there is still a high chance you will not see the Northern Lights. But, that’s okay! Part of the fun is traveling and experiencing new places and cultures; if you get a chance to see them, excellent! If not, you likely had other memorable experiences.

The Northern Lights are a spectacular phenomenon. The places they occur are just as phenomenal. When traveling to these rugged locations, make sure you have the Duluth Pack gear to get you there. The Classic Carry-On can fit all of your essentials and is a great go-to bag for plane travel. When hiking to see the lights, carry your gear in our Wanderer Pack. This pack is built for challenging terrain and all of your adventure needs. Ensure you snap a picture of the light show and keep your camera protected with our Professional Camera Bag.

Make sure you also pack a cozy blanket and warm apparel for the cold weather! You always want to ensure you pack and dress for the right conditions.

Happy adventuring, friends!

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