Where to See the Northern Lights in Alberta in 2024

Alberta Northern Lights
SNG-ON Main Blog BannerSNG-ON Main Blog Banner

The wonderful natural light show of aurora borealis is truly a sight to behold and, understandably, features on many bucket lists. Alberta offers some of the most stunning vantage points for viewing this celestial spectacle if you're keen to see the dancing lights.

To make planning the trip of a lifetime easier, Ask Genie has done the hard work for you, picking out some of the best places in Alberta to witness the northern lights in 2024. But first, let's look at when you should plan your trip to experience aurora borealis.

What Time of Year is the Northern Lights Visible in Alberta?

The northern lights in Alberta are typically visible from September to March. However, the peak season for viewing is during the winter months when the nights are longer and darker. To improve your chances of seeing the amazing light show, use Aurora Forecast or another service.

When is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights in Alberta?

The best time to see the northern lights in Alberta is during periods of high solar activity, known as solar maximums. These occur approximately every 11 years, with the next peak expected around 2024-2026. Additionally, clear nights with minimal light pollution offer optimal viewing conditions.

What Causes the Northern Lights?

Solar storms and activity on the sun's surface cause the lights we see as part of aurora borealis. These storms give out vast clouds of electrically charged particles, some of which travel millions of miles and become captured in the Earth's magnetic field.

These particles head towards the north and south poles, so the activity is concentrated around these areas, colliding with atoms and molecules and heating them. These atoms and molecules colliding with particles from the sun create the light waves across the sky that we know as aurora borealis.

The 10 Best Places to See the Northern Lights in Alberta

Here, we select our 10 favourite spots to see the aurora borealis in all its glory, including stunning national parks and dark sky preserves. These promote aurora viewing by restricting artificial and urban light pollution - providing clear views of the dark skies and northern lights above.

1. Wood Buffalo National Park

As one of the world's largest dark-sky preserves, Wood Buffalo National Park offers unparalleled opportunities for northern lights viewing. Located in northern Alberta, this vast wilderness is ideal for witnessing the auroras in all their glory.

2. Beaver Hills

This designated dark-sky preserve east of Edmonton offers excellent opportunities for stargazing and northern lights viewing. The serene beauty of Beaver Hills makes it a popular destination for nature lovers and astrophotographers alike. It's also interesting to know that the Royal Astronomical Society of Edmonton often meets here, highlighting just how clear the skies in this part of Alberta are.

3. Fort McMurray

Fort McMurray is another excellent location for viewing the northern lights and there are even glass igloos available in the area, so you can star gaze from the comfort of a cozy bed. Fort McMurray is the most populous city in northern Alberta, so there's plenty to do and see if you're planning a short stay. Away from the city lights, the surrounding wilderness provides an ideal setting for aurora enthusiasts.

4. Waterton Lakes National Park

Nestled in the Rocky Mountains, Waterton Lakes National Park boasts stunning landscapes and pristine night skies. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the northern lights from various vantage points within the park.

5. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

Straddling the border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The park's high elevation and remote location make it an ideal spot for observing the auroras.

6. Elk Island National Park

Just a short drive from Edmonton, Elk Island National Park is in Beaver Hills and provides easy access to pristine night skies. Its tranquil lakes and expansive meadows offer stunning backdrops for northern lights photography.

7. Banff National Park

While primarily known for its breathtaking mountain scenery, Banff National Park also offers excellent opportunities for northern lights viewing. On clear nights, you can marvel at the celestial display against the backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.

8. Parsons Creek Park

Near Fort McMurray, Parsons Creek Park is a hidden gem for northern lights viewing. With a secluded setting and minimal light pollution, Parsons Creek is a prime spot for experiencing the aurora borealis in solitude.

9. Lakeland Provincial Park

Situated in northeastern Alberta, Lakeland Provincial Park is renowned for its pristine lakes and dense forests. Visitors can enjoy unobstructed views of the night sky, making it an ideal destination for aurora enthusiasts.

10. Jasper National Park

As Canada's largest dark-sky preserve, Jasper National Park offers some of the best skies in the country for experiencing the aurora borealis. Visitors can witness the lights against the backdrop of towering mountains and crystal-clear lakes.

Every October, the national park hosts the Jasper Dark Sky Festival, featuring astronomy events and speakers, giving you the perfect opportunity to see the northern lights and immerse yourself in the science around this illuminating phenomenon.

With its vast wilderness areas and pristine night skies, Alberta offers plenty of opportunities for experiencing the wonder of the northern lights. Whether you're a seasoned aurora chaser or a first-time viewer, these ten locations promise unforgettable encounters with this mesmerizing natural phenomenon.

How to Increase Your Chances of Seeing the Northern Lights in Alberta

To increase your chances of seeing the northern lights in Alberta, you should:

  1. Monitor solar activity: Keep an eye on solar forecasts and plan your trip during periods of high solar activity for the best chances of seeing the auroras.
  2. Choose dark-sky locations: Opt for remote areas with minimal light pollution to maximize visibility.
  3. Be patient: northern lights sightings are not guaranteed, so be prepared to wait patiently for the auroras to appear.
  4. Stay informed: Check local weather forecasts and aurora alerts to stay updated on viewing conditions.
  5. Bring the right gear: Pack warm clothing, a sturdy tripod for photography, and binoculars for optimal viewing.

Get Closer to the Northern Lights with Spin Genie

Ready to go Aurora chasing? A northern lights experience is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, so make sure you do it right and take in the stunning night sky and dancing lights in style.

To have a chance of winning some extra cash for your trip, check out the best online slots in Ontario or try your luck at Ontario's best online casino.

For more travel guides and inspiration, take a look at some of our other lifestyle blogs, including:

Discover Spin Genie

Your Magical Online Casino Destination

Spin Genie is a regulated online casino and the destination of choice for the most entertaining online slots, nostalgic game shows and live table games.


Best Wellness Retreats Canada 2024

The 11 Best Wellness Retreats in Canada for 2024

Unwind and rejuvenate at the best wellness retreats in Canada. Find serenity amidst stunning landscapes and embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Best Spa Resorts British Columbia 2024

9 Best Spa Resorts in British Columbia for 2024

Discover ultimate relaxation at the best spa resorts in BC. From tranquil coastal escapes to mountain retreats, indulge in rejuvenating experiences.

Best Luxury Resorts Canada 2024

The 10 Best Luxury Resorts in Canada to Visit in 2024

Discover the best luxury hotels in Canada, from majestic mountain retreats to seaside havens. Indulge in opulent accommodations and world-class amenities.

V: 1.50.0 All rights reserved. January 2020