Northern Lights Offer Unforgettable Experience in Minnesota Northwoods

January 19, 2017

minnesota northern lights

One thing that seems to be on everyone’s bucket list? “See the Northern Lights”. And no wonder; the lure of Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, is timeless. While Scandinavia is best known for Northern Lights, the stunning view can also be observed in Northern Minnesota. As shown in the beautiful film Voyageurs, and the time-lapse video by Bemidji Lakeland Public Television (below), you don't have fly to remote countries to see the dazzling dance of lights.

What is Aurora Borealis?

Aurora Borealis happens when particles from the sun enter Earth’s atmosphere and collide violently with gas atoms, such as oxygen and nitrogen. Auroras in the northern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Borealis’ or ‘northern lights’, while auroras that occur in the southern hemisphere are called ‘Aurora Australis’ or ‘southern lights’.

What determines the color of Aurora?

Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common aurora color, green, is produced by oxygen molecules located  60 miles above the earth, while red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen. Nitrogen produces blue or purple aurora.

Where is the best place to view Aurora Borealis in the Northwoods?

The best place to watch the auroras is away from light pollution. Good viewing spots tend to be lake boat access ramps which face north, according to the volunteer naturalist, Richard Hoeg. All our member resorts are 20-30 minutes out of town, making it an ideal spot to view the Northern Lights when the sky is generous enough to present the spectacular show of your lifetime.

When is the best time to view the Northern Lights?

Whenever there is a significant event on the sun and it is earth facing, it usually means a great aurora show is in the offing. Usually the best time of night (on clear nights) to watch for Northern Lights is between 10pm to 2am. While cold winter nights are generally the best season to view lights, they can, and quite often are, seen during other times.

Now mind you, Northern Lights are a rare treat to come across. They’re unpredictable, finicky occurrences even to professional Aurora Hunters in Scandinavia, which makes them that much more special. “Don’t go for the Northern Lights; go for the destination,” a travel blogger suggests. Minnesota Northwoods is a spectacular place to be, full of natural wonders and thrilling activities. And if we happen to come across the beautiful array of lights? Well, we won’t be complaining.


An image with a fishing pole that links to a download of the 2017 Vacation Guide.