The best time to view the lights is in the fall months.

By Stacey Leasca
November 09, 2017
Sascha Kilmer/Getty Images

Each year thousands of tourists flock to destinations like Norway, Finland, and Iceland in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the glimmering Northern Lights.

All of these destinations are well worth traveling to, but there are a few less-expected spots where you can see the spectacular celestial show right here in the United States.

Northern Idaho

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Priest Lake, Idaho Panhandle National Forests, is about 30 miles south of the border with Canada (as the crow flies) and when conditions are right, its clear waters reflect the aurora's ribbons of light. Check out our 10 Places to See the Northern Lights article for other locations to witness this colorful phenomenon. photo by Craig Goodwin #priestlake #northernlights #auroraborealis #exploreyouramerica #sharetheexperience #beautifulview

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When the sun emits superheated plasma, otherwise known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), it can trigger a massive “geomagnetic storm,” which causes the Earth’s auroras to light up. When that storm is big enough, the Northern Lights can be visible as far south as places like Idaho, which is exactly what happened in September.

The best time to view the lights in Idaho is in the fall months, according to Just check out the NOAA's forecast tool to see when the next show might come.


Like Idaho, the Northern Lights can indeed be seen in places like Ohio when the conditions are just right.

Not only will there need to be a massive solar storm, but you will also need to be in an area that is dark and free of light pollution. When a solar storm happens (which you can track with services like Night Sky Alerts), make your way out of a city or any well-lit areas. Park yourself beneath the stars and wait for the show to (hopefully) begin.


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It sure is hard to fit the night sky into an Instagram photo but here is a taste of the amazing #stars and #aurora that we saw whilst camping last wknd at #cherryspringsstatepark #darkskyzone #astronomy #stargazers #auroraborealis #camping #bluemovement #unitedbyblue @labzda #premaphotographic

A post shared by Kiersten Labzda (@premaphotographic) on Sep 13, 2016 at 8:41am PDT

Pennsylvania has an advantage when it comes to Northern Lights viewing potential, as it is home to Cherry Springs State Park, a Dark Sky Reserve. There, visitors can stay overnight, take part in tours, and even take a photography class to improve their skills and possibly capture the aurora in action.


Michigan is also home to a Dark Sky Reserve, the Headlands International Dark Sky Park. Although the park has ideal conditions for viewing the Northern Lights, it can be unpredictable. Keep your expectations low and you'll be pleasantly surprised if you catch a glimpse of the lights over these woodlands.


Alaska is the only state in the U.S. where viewing the Northern Lights is a near guarantee. There are several companies in the state that will take visitors on a tour to help them find the best viewing locations.

Companies include Salmon Berry Tours, which offers overnight and multi-day excursion to Talkeetna and Fairbanks, and Iniakuk Wilderness Lodge, which is a remote wilderness lodge is 200 miles north of Fairbanks and 60 miles north of the Arctic Circle.

This story originally appeared on Travel + Leisure.