The northern lights have captured the imagination of humans for hundreds of thousands of years. This stunning natural phenomenon is a must-see for everyone at some point in their lives. If you’re living in the Pacific Northwest, this opportunity might be closer than you think. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend a fortune on an all-inclusive trip to some remote place in the Arctic Circle. There are some great places in the PNW where you can catch a worthwhile glimpse of the Aurora Borealis in all its glory.
Why the PNW is great for the northern lights.
There are a few key reasons the PNW is a suitable place to view the northern lights. First and foremost, it’s one of the most geographically northern regions of the lower 50. And being further north makes it easier to see…well, the northern lights, of course!
Another critical factor is the abundance of darkness. There’s plenty of nature surrounding major cities where you can escape the light pollution for a clear view of the aurora. Plus, the PNW has longer nights than other areas of the country which contributes to even more darkness.
What to bring when viewing the northern lights?
As a craftsman, you understand the importance of having the right gear for the job. Here’s what you should take on your PNW aurora expedition:
Good Camera – Your phone works great in a pinch, but a real camera is the best way to capture the majesty of the aurora.
Warm Clothes – No matter where you catch the northern lights, it’s going to be freezing. Make sure to take winter gear to stay nice and warm.
Flashlights – The best conditions for seeing the northern lights are as dark as possible, so a bright flashlight comes in handy when exploring.
Snacks – A sighting of the Aurora Borealis can last anywhere from 15 minutes to over an hour. Make sure to bring some food and drinks so you can enjoy the whole show.
When can you see the northern lights?
You’ll have the greatest chances for a glimpse of this natural wonder between late August and early April. There are a handful of factors that contribute to the likelihood of Mother Nature putting on the aurora show, and these factors most commonly occur in the wintertime. Of course, you’ll need to be looking a the nighttime too.
Further Reading: 5 Winter Activities to Get in Touch With Your Wildside
Where is the best place in the PNW for the aurora?
The skies of Seattle, Oregon, and Idaho are all fortunate enough to be graced by the northern lights when the conditions are right. As a general rule of thumb, the further north you go in the PNW, the greater the chances of seeing the northern lights. Plus, you’re better off venturing away from cities and other sources of light pollution to increase the intensity of the lights.
Why patience and planning are crucial.
It’s important to keep in mind that seeing the northern lights is a big deal even in places where the spectacle is more common. While it’s possible to knock this off your bucket list without an expensive trip, it’s going to require a bit more patience and planning.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a dedicated Aurora Forecast which provides 30-minute forecasts of the event. This is one of the best resources for staying up to date on the location of the Aurora Borealis in the northern hemisphere.
Have a pre-planned list of nearby places you can visit when the northern lights come to your neighborhood. This way, you’re ready to jump on the chance when the conditions are perfect for a beautiful sighting.
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