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Northern Lights Camping – See the Aurora Borealis in Your RV

Northern Lights Camping – See the Aurora Borealis in Your RV

Traveling by RV offers so many amazing experiences. Among them is the chance to experience some absolutely incredible natural wonders. In today’s post, we’re talking about Northern Lights camping!

We’ll tell you about four amazing places where you can go to experience camping under the brilliant skies of the Aurora Borealis.

What Are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are moving waves of light that have fascinated humans for thousands of years.

“Aurora Borealis” means “light of dawn” and history attributes the name to Galileo back in 1623. “Aurora” was said to be the goddess of the dawn, and “Boreas” is the northern wind personified.

The Northern Lights are a stunning light show produced when highly charged solar particles collide with particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. This event turns energy into light.

The Northern Lights usually occur around remote northern parts of Canada, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Alaska, Russia, and throughout Iceland.

But under the right conditions, Aurora viewing can be experienced under the night sky in more southern regions of North America.

A photo of a person experiencing the Northern Lights in northern Sweden

This is a photo of the Northern Lights over Northern Sweden.

When Are the Northern Lights Most Visible?

The best time to experience the Aurora Borealis is during the months of August through mid-April, under dark, clear skies.

Fall and spring are great times for Northern Light viewing because weather conditions and temperatures are milder and more stable, especially around the equinoxes.

The darkest skies are present during the longest evenings from November through February. The Northern Lights are strongest between 9 PM and 2 AM, with peak experiences generally occurring between 11 PM and midnight.

Where to Camp to See the Northern Lights

Here are four ideal spots to travel to in your RV for some (potential) Northern Lights camping.

Acadia National Park

The resort town of Bar Harbor is serious about offering guests of Acadia National Park the best possible view of the beautiful northern night skies. There’s actually a light pollution ordinance in Bar Harbor mandating “night sky friendly” outdoor lighting!

The best viewing of the Northern Lights in the northernmost parts of Downeast Acadia happens between August and October. What’s especially fabulous about this time frame is that it generally coincides with peak foliage season in Maine. Bonus!

Check out Acadia National Park campgrounds or search “Bar Harbor campgrounds” in your favorite search engine. Also, see our post on how to save money on campgrounds and hey – this is Maine we’re talking about so maybe grab a quick peek at our post on essential winter camping gear while you’re at it!

A photo of the clear night sky full of stars over Acadia National Park

The night skies over Acadia National Park can be clear enough to show thousands of stars and, at the right time of year, the Aurora Borealis.

Banff, Alberta (Canada)

Banff is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever experience and this popular destination can be an amazing place to experience the Northern Lights.

In Banff, you’re most likely to see the Aurora Borealis between October and May, so that winter camping gear we linked to above might help you out here as well! The timing also means you could enjoy Northern Lights camping and the amazing fall foliage at Acadia in October, and then head across the United States to cross the border into Canada and view the Northern Lights dancing over the Canadian Rockies in Banff. It’s a bit of a drive… but worth it!

Check out the camping in Banff National Park or search “Banff campgrounds”. You may also want to check out our tips for winter RV living before heading north to Banff that time of year.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Many people experience the Aurora Borealis in Glacier National Park because Montana is in the southern range of the regular reach of the Northern Lights.

The best seasons for Northern Lights camping in the beautiful venue known as Glacier National Park are coming right up – fall, winter, and spring!

Plan your visit by checking out the campgrounds in Glacier NP, or search “campgrounds near Glacier National Park”.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park

One of the most popular destinations for Northern Lights viewing is Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Michigan.

The park even has an Aurora Borealis forecaster on its website where you can actually subscribe to Aurora alerts! There’s lots of other information about the Northern Lights on the page so be sure to check it out.

Aurora Borealis over Mackinac Bridge

The Aurora Borealis dancing over Mackinac Bridge (Photo credit: Jason Gillman via Headlands International Dark Sky Park website)

Johnson Point and McGulpin Point (and its lighthouse) are said to be prime areas of potential for seeing the Northern Lights.

The best times of year for viewing are during the Equinox in September and March, but Northern Lights viewing is possible anytime here due to the lack of light pollution in the area.

You can stay in Mackinaw City where there are several campgrounds. And if you’ve ever wanted to visit Mackinac Island, your Northern Lights trip would be a perfect time. Just be aware that there’s no camping and there are no RV parks on Mackinac Island, though there are a number of hotels.

Have You Camped Under the Northern Lights?

If you’ve enjoyed some Northern Lights camping in your travels, let us know in the comments where you viewed them and at what time of year as well as where you stayed!

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Chuck Potter

Tuesday 4th of October 2022

I grew up 10 miles south of Mackinaw City (Carp Lake) and I can remember seeing them at various times year round. By the way, where is Headlands International Dark Sky Park located? Never heard of it.


Tuesday 4th of October 2022

That's cool, Chuck! Headlands International Dark Sky Park is located on the point west of Mackinaw City. Here's some more info:

Rick Dowling

Tuesday 4th of October 2022

We saw them in Skagway Alaska in early September this year. Too bad I can’t post a pic here. Also, there are various websites that let you know when sun bursts are most active and therefore the odds of seeing them goes up. We tracked them on one the University of Fairbanks had while we were up there. Can’t paste that site here either or I would. But a search will reveal them.

John S.

Tuesday 4th of October 2022

I think that you are generous in your suggestion for when to see the northern lights. In my personal experience the best months are only December January or February.

At the locations you list, yes it IS possible to see northern lights if you are lucky. But in my opinion Yellowknife (Northwest Territories) is the best, even better than Whitehorse (Yukon) as a place you can get to somewhat easily.

Whitehorse is certainly a good place to see the northern lights, but you should drive out of town to avoid the light pollution. December to February the probability of seeing the northern lights in Yellowknife is 90% and you don't have to go very far away as there is a lot less light pollution.

Like the photo of the lights in Sweden.

David Kubissa

Tuesday 4th of October 2022

Great list of sites for viewing the Northern Lights. Thank you.


Tuesday 4th of October 2022

Thanks, @David!

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