There’s no shortage of beauty in our backyard. And when the Canadian backyard stretches across six time zones, you can bet that the breadth of places in which to get lost is near inexhaustible.
Surrounded by sound-insulating snow and away from urban light pollution, these viewing spots for the Northern Lights across Canada are your go-to locations this fall, winter and spring to see the Aurora Borealis.
Northern Lights in Fort McMurray, AB
Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites [stars number="3"]
- How to reach: Fort McMurray Airport has daily connections to Edmonton and Calgary, in addition to direct flights from Toronto and Vancouver
- Best room: the King 1 Bedroom Suite with two HDTVs and natural bath amenities
- Pet-friendly, complimentary breakfast, steam room, fitness centre
Fort Mac is showing Alberta and the rest of Canada that it’s got what it takes to bounce back from the 2016 wildfires and the oil sands downturn — and aurora borealis tourism is playing its part too. Explore the mysticism of the upper atmosphere from this special spot on the 65th parallel.
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The comforts and conveniences of Fort Mac make seeing the polar lights here an experience that will leave you awestruck while enjoying your sought-after amenities at an arm’s reach. The Best Western Plus Sawridge Suites isn’t one to compromise with fully-equipped kitchens, walk-in showers and a 24/7 convenience store.
Northern Lights in Whitehorse, YK
Inn on the Lake [stars number="4"]
- How to reach: Whitehorse International is well-connected to major and minor airports in BC and Alberta, meanwhile, the Alaska Highway joins Dawson Creek, BC with Delta Junction, Alaska
- Best room: Executive Jacuzzi Suite with a two-person jetted tub
- Artwork by Yukon’s First Nations artists
Find yourself the perfect spot under the neon fresco of the Auroras in Whitehorse. Spend your day dog-mushing the frozen lakes around Yukon’s capital before settling into a custom-made cabin to take in the nightly entertainment from below. History buffs will want to add a city tour to better understand the impact of the Klondike Gold Rush on the Territory while nature lovers could very well be interested in the two-hour drive to Kluane National Park.
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Owner Carson Schiffkorn’s lodge on Marsh Lake is exactly the charming ambience Aurora hunters will be looking for this winter. Under the vaulted Engelmann spruce ceiling, the guestrooms are completed with private balconies to enjoy the northern lights in utter respite.
Northern Lights in Yellowknife, NT
Blachford Lake Lodge [stars number="5"]
- How to Reach it: 25-minute scenic bush plane ride from Yellowknife
- Best room: The Aurora Comfort Station complete with heated toilet and wash basin with a skylight
- Outdoor hot tub, organic greenhouse, free WiFi
Perched on a rocky knoll overlooking Blachford Lake, the secluded and completely wild location of the Blachford Lake Lodge is the perfect spot for uninterrupted Aurora-watching. To make the most of your stay, ensure you visit during the two prime viewing seasons – summer/autumn (August 15-October 10) and winter/spring (December 20-April 10).
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At this solar-powered, eco-friendly lodge, you’ll find two Aurora-viewing decks upstairs, while the main floor serves as the cozy lounge with bar, dining room and library. There are plenty of seasonal activities to take part in at the lodge, from ice-skating, dog-sledding and cross-country skiing. You’ll be following in the footsteps of royalty after Prince William and Catherine’s stop here on their Royal Tour of Canada.
A few hints from Jon Matte of Northern Adventure who guides Aurora Hunters through the gleaming skies of Alta, Norway…
- The aurora season isn’t just February and March in the snow! For people not so fond of snow and deep-freeze temperatures, October is a great month to come try their luck.
- Your camera will take great, vibrant pictures of what’s overhead, but remember that your eyes do not see in colour when it is very dark.
- The aurora is NOT going away because of the “solar minimum”. Even though it will be less visible to places farther south when the sun’s activity slows in these next years, there will still be an aurora in the sky in places that are right under where it appears.
- Dress warm, warm, WARM! Gloves and boots are critically important if you will be standing or sitting around while you wait.
Northern Lights in Churchill, MB
Bear Country Inn [stars number="3"]
- How to reach: Your most likely connection to Churchill’s airport is via Winnipeg
- Best room: Queen room with mini-fridge
- Pets welcomed, free airport shuttle, free WiFi
Most famous for being the Polar Bear Capital of the World, Churchill’s hard-to-reach location presents its own set of inconveniences (bear-spotting hotline, no road access in) and advantages (pitch-black nights, beluga watching). Pull up your seat to Mother Nature’s late night waltz from a plexiglass-covered dome in Churchill.
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Check into the Bear Country Inn whose humble quarters will certainly do the trick on your northern expedition (open only for the Fall). Rooms range from two Twins to a Queen, which all include WiFi and a breakfast to give you that extra insulation needed before hitting the outdoors. The Inn anchors Kelsey Boulevard, the main drag, and down the street from the town’s Inukshuk.
Northern Lights in Gravenhurst, ON
Residence Inn by Marriott Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf [stars number="3"]
- How to reach: Gravenhurst and Muskoka can be reached within two hours from Toronto by car
- Best room: Lake View Suite with a balcony furnished with Muskoka chairs
- Full kitchens, indoor pool, private fireplaces
Play your timing and weather right, and you won’t need to go too far north to see the dazzling optics of the winter sky. With a name that says it all, the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve in Muskoka is far enough removed from the air and light pollution of the Toronto area to stargaze and admire the northern lights in their fullest expression.
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With the slopes of Mount St. Louise Moonstone and Hidden Valley Highlands nearby, Gravenhurst is a well-situated midway point for an evening of aurora borealis watching. The Residence Inn Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf is at the ready with working fireplaces, a breakfast buffet and sparkling lake views.
Northern Lights in Iqaluit, NU
Frobisher Inn [stars number="3"]
- How to reach: Iqaluit Airport is connected to major hubs in Eastern Canada and to Winnipeg
- Best room: Junior suite with kitchenette and soaker tub
- Inuit artwork, room service, adjacent to the city’s Astro Hill Complex
With a northern lights season from October to April, the newest of Canada’s provincial capitals is a dependable destination to admire the tundra’s sky fires (or aksarnerk in Inuktitut). Day activities like ice fishing and igloo building are part of the fun before you wait for the visual crackle of Nunavut’s northern skies.
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Retire in comfort to your room or suite at the Frobisher Inn with some of the most comprehensive views of Iqaluit. This full-service hotel has every need taken care of from the in-house Frob Kitchen & Eatery to movies at the Astro Theatre next door. Hotel staff are happy to suggest activities to fill your day from dawn to dusk.
Northern Lights in Dawson Creek, BC
Pomeroy Inn & Suites Dawson Creek [stars number="3"]
- How to reach: Dawson Creek is four and a half hours northeast of Prince George by car
- Best room: Pomeroy Junior King Jacuzzi Suite with two-person tub
- Pet-friendly, fully-equipped kitchens, waterslide
Found at Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway (which terminates 2,232 kilometres later in Delta Junction, Alaska), the town of Dawson Creek is treated to an explosion of colours on cool and clear nights. During daylight hours, lace up for a hike through Bear Mountain Wind Park before defrosting yourself in front of the works of art at the Dawson Creek Art Gallery.
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Warm on up at the Pomeroy Inn and Suites where an indoor pool and whirlpool await. You’re free to cook your own meals thanks to the full kitchen setups in most suites although a hot breakfast spread is also provided to guests every morning. trivago users are big fans of the Guest Appreciation Night every Wednesday with pizza and beer provided.
Northern Lights in Kemptville, NS
Trout Point Lodge [stars number="5"]
- How to reach: Trout Point is located one hour away by car from Yarmouth and Shelburne
- Best room: Junior Fireplace Suite decked in wool carpets and deep soaking bathtubs
- Wood-fired hot tub, Occitane bath amenities, Starlight-certified hotel
In spite of being the furthest south of these Canadian Northern Light hotels, the Trout Point Lodge outside of Yarmouth is reputed to have the darkest skies over North America. As a designated Starlight Reserve, the Acadian Skies and Mi’kmaq Lands are perfect for stargazing and aurora spotting.
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The Trout Point Lodge, down a five-kilometre trail off of the main road, is a complete romantic escape under the star-studded heavens. Scan the autumnal northern lights after a candlelit dinner thanks to a guided tour by the Lodge’s staff astronomer before returning to the crackle and warmth of your suite’s fireplace.
Are you able to see the Northern Lights in your part of the country? Drop us a line in the Comment section.