Make Anchorage your base camp for catching the aurora borealis. Spotting the northern lights can depend on everything from weather conditions to the presence of man-made light, so to maximize your chances, it’s best to be in a location known for clear, dark skies. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to travel far from Downtown Anchorage to find prime aurora viewing locales. Local guide services can help show you the way. When the skies are clear and solar conditions are right, these are some of the top places to see the northern lights in Anchorage.

  1. Glen Alps

    The Glen Alps trailhead parking lot is a high-elevation vantage point for northern lights above the city.

  2. Point Woronzof

    At the northwestern edge of the city, this coastal park has great northern exposure along the shores of Cook Inlet.

  3. Eklutna Tailrace and Knik River Valley

    The Knik River drainage has a northern horizon without any mountains in the way. This area offers good visibility even when the aurora is low on the horizon.

  4. Girdwood

    The Chugach Mountains shield the quaint ski town of Girdwood from Anchorage’s city lights, and The Hotel Alyeska offers a northern lights wake-up call.

  5. Eagle River Nature Center

    At the end of Eagle River Road, the Eagle River Nature Center is an entrance point to Chugach State Park and a serene spot that seems a world away from daily life.

Aurora Viewing Tips

Mid-August through April are the best months for viewing the northern lights. It's the only time Alaska skies are dark enough, and the best displays tend to be accompanied by cloudless and moonless skies. Just like stargazing, the best aurora views avoid streetlights and other bright light sources. The show could start as soon as skies get dark, but the best hours are often near midnight.

Of course, no one can guarantee when the aurora will be out. Visitors who wish to spot the northern lights should plan to spend a few days because the aurora is, like the weather, variable. Having more than a single night allows adjustments for weather changes and the best aurora conditions.

Alaska aurora forecasts are available from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space Weather Prediction Center.

Summer Aurora Views

Even though the summer evening skies are too bright, visitors still find a way to enjoy the full splendor of Alaska’s northern lights. Projected in high definition, “AurorA, Alaska's Great Northern Lights” is a stunning digital presentation by Aurora photographer Dave Parkhurst, set to original music and shown daily in summer (closed for 2020) at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.