The Best Canadian Locations to See the Northern Lights

If you want a unique photography setting, then you may look for the enchanting aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. It offers a magical light display that can fascinate anyone who sees it. This natural phenomenon is believed to occur not only here on Earth but to other planets as well. The dancing lights of the aurora borealis are usually yellowish-green in colour. They are caused by the collision of the gaseous particles that can be seen in the Earth's atmosphere and the charged particles from the sun. If produced in high-altitude oxygen, the lights become red. On the other hand, nitrogen makes the auroras blue or purplish-red.

Where to Watch the Northern Lights

The bewitching celestial display of the aurora borealis is an excellent opportunity for photographers to capture a breathtaking natural scene. These captivating streak of lights can be seen in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, the phenomenon is known as aurora australis. The aurora borealis and aurora australis happen at the same time with mirror-like images - similar colours and shapes.

Here in Canada, there are plenty of excellent locations where you can watch and photograph the northern lights. Listed below are some of the ideal spots to view the aurora borealis in the Great White North:

#1 Battle Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador - Battle Harbour is an excellent site for photographers. It is where you can witness beautiful historic buildings and abundant wildlife which can be your photography subjects. While exploring the entire island of Battle Harbour, you can hike the resettled communities on the Great Caribou Island. You may also watch and take pictures of adorable whales. Try to photograph the spectacular sunsets while featuring the massive icebergs that pass by the island. Other than these activities, you can also enjoy the night's view while gazing at the enthralling northern lights.  

#2 Fort McMurray, Alberta - Fort McMurray is recognized as one of the fastest-growing Canadian regions. It offers excellent services for education, medical, and tourism services. This unique and vibrant community in Alberta is home to numerous tourist attractions, where both locals and tourists can explore. Canoeing, fishing, golfing, kayaking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling are some of the thrilling outdoor adventures that you can do when you explore Fort McMurray. 

Other than the mentioned recreational activities, Fort McMurray is also a magnificent place to see the dynamic displays of the northern lights. Although they can be seen anytime from 9 am to 3 pm, it is advisable to view the aurora borealis at around midnight. Since this phenomenon can be affected by several factors, including moonlight and urban light pollution, you can check the forecast at For photography opportunities, it is recommended to use a high-speed film and manual settings to capture the best shots.

#3 Iqaluit, Nunavut - From October to April, you can enjoy the charismatic display of natural lights in Iqaluit. This city also provides many fascinating social and cultural experiences for visitors. Try to watch Inuumariit Music Festival where you can witness a lot of musical performances. Another festival that you can engage yourself with is the Toonik Tyme Festival that happens during April. You may explore the place for your photography needs and go dog sledding, ice fishing, or snowmobiling under the northern lights.

#4 Lac La Ronge, Saskatchewan - If you want to visit Saskatchewan, then you may start with its northern town, Lac La Ronge. This place offers amazing scenes and year-round recreational opportunities. Lac La Ronge is an ideal location to experience world-class canoeing, fishing, and cross-country skiing in North America. Here in Canada, Lac La Ronge is an excellent spot to view the starry show of the aurora borealis. Watching the northern lights could be a once in a lifetime opportunity for some, especially to visitors. Cherish this moment by taking quality shots of this fantastic light display.

#5 Muncho Lake Provincial Park, British Columbia - The Muncho Lake Provincial Park is an  88,420-hectare territory in the heart of British Columbia. It offers astounding views of grandiose mountains and vibrant wildflowers, which you can photograph. Besides exploring the park, you may also go camping at Strawberry Flats or MacDonald campgrounds. While waiting for the northern lights to show in the sky, you may try fishing in the cold and deep lake where you can catch arctic grayling, bull trout, and whitefish. Get your camera on hand to take pictures of the aurora borealis at night. When you get the chance, photograph the beautiful lights that are reflected in the aqua-green waters of the Muncho Lake.

#6 Whitehorse, Yukon - Whitehorse was established as the capital of the Yukon territory in 1953. This place is located along the Yukon River. One of the key priorities of this city is to uphold environmental sustainability, preserving its natural aesthetics. Yukon offers many tourist destinations where you can enjoy recreation activities year-round. One of the best adventures to do in Yukon is northern lights viewing. In this city, the best time to watch and photograph the aurora borealis is during the first few weeks of the winter. You can witness the remarkable natural light display while relaxing in a hot pool at the Takhini Hot Pools. 

#7 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories - Being the capital of the Northwest Territories, Yellowknife is where you can find excellent restaurants and affordable accommodations. This city also offers many exciting activities which you can enjoy, from weekly music festivals to month-long events during the winter. For photographers, you can showcase the winter activities happening in Yellowknife while featuring the northern lights as your background. 

There are many compelling reasons to admire the beautiful country of Canada. It is home to many tourist destinations where you can also perform thrilling activities. The Great White North also offers excellent sites to photograph the dazzling aurora borealis. With the abundance of natural wonders, Canada is one of the photographer-friendly countries that you could explore.