Aurora Tracks See Northern Lights

Where & When to See Northern Lights ALASKA ANCHORAGE?

where when can you see northern lights alaska anchorage chugach state park

As one of the best places in the world for northern lights, Alaska is worth visiting for any serious aurora-hunter. In this guide, we explain how you can see northern lights Alaska Anchorage, including timing and the best locations in and around Anchorage.

Anchorage Alaska is one of the premier destinations in the world for viewing the breathtaking natural phenomenon known as the northern lights. Due to its location under the auroral oval, Anchorage offers visitors with the optimal conditions for viewing the elusive lights. The high northern latitude coupled with the low levels of light pollution ensures that aurora hunters can enjoy some of the most spectacular displays imaginable.

In this article, we help you decipher where and when can you see northern lights in Anchorage Alaska, with precise viewing locations you can schedule into your trip.

Can You See Northern Lights in Anchorage AK?

Yes, absolutely, you can see northern lights in Anchorage AK!

In fact, Alaska (including Anchorage and Fairbanks) is one of the very best places in the world where you can see the aurora borealis. If Anchorage AK is on your aurora-chasing shortlist, then you’re off to an excellent start. But, you still need to get your trip timing right.

When Can You See Northern Lights in Anchorage AK?

Without question, the best time to view the northern lights Alaska Anchorage is during the winter months. Although the aurora borealis exists year-round, in order to see it, you need to have dark skies, and the winter months, provide the longest nights. As a general rule, you should be able to witness the elusive lights at any point from September until April, with the chances increasing dramatically during the peak of the winter. Avoid summer, as there is simply too much daylight and the nights are too short.

Best Months for Northern Lights Alaska Anchorage

But, when discussing what the best months are for viewing the northern lights Alaska Anchorage, then it is recommended to visit between October and March if you want to visit when the temperatures are still bearable. However, if you want the optimal conditions for viewing the aurora borealis, then you will want to visit Anchorage AK between December and February, when the skies are the clearest, and the nights are at their longest. Learn more in our article on when to see aurora borealis in Alaska.

Best Years Based on Solar Cycle

The aurora borealis exists as a result of solar radiation’s interaction with the magnetosphere that surrounds the planet. When the amount of solar activity increases, the opportunities to view the northern lights also increases. The sun itself operates on a cycle that peaks every 11 years. With the last peak occurring back in 2013, the next peak is expected to take place sometime around 2025. Learn more in our aurora borealis solar cycle schedule.

Moon Cycle and Other Timing Considerations

It’s also important to take into consideration the actual cycle of the moon as you head out to go hunting for the elusive lights. Make sure to plan your trip to chase Anchorage AK northern lights at a time when there is a new moon, as even a crescent moon can dramatically increase the amount of light pollution which can adversely affect your chances of viewing the most vivid displays imaginable.

can you see northern lights in anchorage AK yes flattop rec area chugach state park
Can you see northern lights in anchorage AK? Yes! Pictured here is Flattop Recreation Area, in Chugach State Park.

Where to See Northern Lights Alaska Anchorage

Best Places to See Northern Lights Alaska Anchorage

Reflections Lake

More Information:

Reflections Lake is a popular destination within Palmer State Game Refuge for aurora hunters. This lake is located approximately 45 miles to the northeast of downtown Anchorage and offers visitors to the area with tranquil surroundings that are perfect for viewing the elusive lights. The scenic lake offers visitors a majestic setting thanks to the nearby Chugach Mountains in the background.

  • Limited Amenities
  • Keep Up-To-Date on Road Closures
  • Be Mindful of Other Visitors to the Area

Arctic Valley Road

More Information:

Located roughly 25 miles to the northeast of Anchorage, you will find the Arctic Valley Road. This road is popular for aurora hunters as it provides them with a secluded setting for viewing the northern lights in Anchorage Alaska. As the road meanders its way through the mountain pass, it provides visitors with remote expanses of pristine mountainous valleys that extend all the way to the horizon. Watch the breathtaking beauty of the elusive lights as they dance across the night skies, far away from the urban distractions of downtown Anchorage.

  • Exercise Caution When Driving on Arctic Valley Road
  • Park Only in Designated Areas
  • Wear Layered Clothing
  • Limited Local Amenities
  • Be Prepared for Road Closures

Thunderbird Falls Trail

More Information:

You will find that the Thunderbird Falls Trail, which is located just outside of Anchorage, provides a scenic hike to a picturesque waterfall that glistens as the northern lights reflect off its frozen surface. The easy-to-trek trail makes its way along the Eklutna River, and provides visitors with a tranquil setting in which to hunt for the elusive lights. Due to the terrain, make sure to bring extra layers of clothing and a flashlight for safe navigation along the trail.

  • Trail May Be Closed in Winter
  • Bring a Flashlight
  • Be Mindful of Wildlife
  • Check Local Weather before Heading out

Arctic Valley Ski Area

More Information:

The Arctic Valley Ski Area is a popular destination outside of Anchorage for those looking to enjoy popular winter sports. It is also a well-known destination for providing some of the most awe-inspiring vistas for viewing the northern lights. The ski area is located in the heart of the Chugach Mountains, and due to the limited light pollution in the area, provides visitors with some of the most vibrant displays imaginable.

  • Be Mindful of Sudden Weather Changes
  • Be Wary of the Mountainous Terrain
  • Limited Local Amenities
  • Check for Road Closures
where to see northern lights alaska anchorage eagle river
Wondering where to see northern lights Alaska Anchorage? Eagle River (pictured) is a popular aurora-hunting spot tucked in the Alaskan wilderness.

Portage Glacier

More Information:

The Portage Glacier is located about 50 miles to the southeast of Anchorage and is well known for offering visitors with a unique experience out on the ice. During the daytime, head out on a guided trek across the ancient glacier, or return at night to view the elusive lights as they reflect off the glacier’s icy surface. Don’t forget to dress warmly and bring all of your food and beverage needs because amenities within the Chugach National Forest are limited.

Considerations for viewing northern lights Anchorage Alaska
  • Be Mindful of Local Weather Conditions
  • Dress Warmly and Wear Layers
  • Be Cautious of the Icy Conditions
  • Limited Local Facilities

Eagle River Nature Center

More Information:

Nestled deep within the Chugach State Park just northeast of Anchorage, you will find the Eagle River Nature Center. The nature center provides a network of trails that wind their way through the forest and along the river. The area is known as a popular destination for those wishing to immerse themselves in the natural Alaskan wilderness. Get up close and personal with nature as you make your way down the tranquil paths hunting for the elusive lights.

Considerations for viewing northern lights Anchorage Alaska
  • Check with the Visitor Center before Arriving
  • Inquire about Guided Programs
  • Be Prepared for Various Trail Conditions
  • Be Mindful of Wildlife in the Area
  • Limited Dining Options

Ptarmigan Valley

More Information:

If you are looking for a secluded destination to view the northern lights in peace and silence, then look no further than the Ptarmigan Valley. This destination can be found in the Chugach National Forest, and offers a wide selection of trails that meander their way through alpine meadows and along burbling streams. Escape to the Ptarmigan Valley, where you can hunt for the northern lights and enjoy the serene beauty in peace and quiet.

Considerations for viewing northern lights Anchorage Alaska
  • Be Mindful of Trail Conditions
  • Check the Weather before Heading out
  • Bring a Headlamp
  • Dress Warmly and Bring Extra Socks


That brings us to the end of our practical guide to northern lights Alaska Anchorage. If you’re still wondering, can you see northern lights in Anchorage Alaska, the answer is a resounding yes. Alaska is one of the best destinations in the entire world for seeing the aurora borealis, and Anchorage is no exception. The key is to choose the best time of year, combined with a secluded location away from light pollution. Below is a recap.

How can you see northern lights in Anchorage AK Alaska?

  • Month: Visit between December to February
  • Solar Cycle: Visit during a solar cycle peak, the period 2024-2026 is predicted to be very good.
  • Location: Choose a secluded location, in the countryside or wilderness. Avoid artificial lights and moonlight.

For more places to explore, check out our guide on how to see Northern Lights in Fairbanks Alaska, or explore our full list of Alaska aurora borealis articles.

Happy aurora chasing!

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