Where to See the Northern Lights in Ontario

Northern Lights Ontario
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Ontario is blessed with some of Canada's most breathtaking displays of the Northern Lights. From the serene shores of Lake Superior to the rugged beauty of Bruce Peninsula National Park, there are numerous places across this vast province where you can experience this natural phenomenon.

For many, seeing the northern lights is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you want to make it a memorable one, right? That's where Ask Genie comes in.

Here, we explore when aurora borealis is visible in Ontario, the top 10 places to see the northern lights, and offer some essential tips for maximizing your chances of experiencing this magical spectacle.

What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are a natural light display that occurs in and around the Arctic and Antarctic. These mesmerizing curtains of light are caused by the collision of charged particles from the sun with atoms in the Earth's atmosphere. The result is a stunning array of colours dancing across the night sky, ranging from green and pink to purple and blue.

When are the Northern Lights visible in Ontario?

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Ontario is during the winter months, typically from late September to early April. This period offers the darkest skies and the highest probability of clear nights, ideal conditions for observing the auroras.

Additionally, geomagnetic activity, which triggers the Northern Lights, tends to be more active during the winter months, further enhancing your chances of witnessing this celestial spectacle.

The 10 Best Places to see the Northern Lights in Ontario

Without further ado, these are our 10 picks for seeing the northern lights, including various Ontario parks and dark sky preserves.

1. Lake Superior Provincial Park

Nestled along the rugged shores of Lake Superior, this expansive provincial park offers pristine wilderness, making it an excellent spot for viewing the Northern Lights. Better still, the park is a designated dark sky preserve, meaning light pollution is minimal.

2. Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve

As the world's first designated dark sky preserve, Torrance Barrens provides unparalleled stargazing opportunities, including prime viewing of the Northern Lights. The preserve even has a Clear Sky Forecast to make sure your visit coincides with good conditions.

3. Chapleau

Located in northern Ontario, Chapleau is home to the largest crown game preserve in the world and boasts vast expanses of untouched wilderness, providing ample opportunities for spotting the Northern Lights against the backdrop of a remote and tranquil landscape.

4. Killarney Provincial Park

With its crystal-clear lakes and rugged terrain, Killarney Provincial Park offers stunning vistas for observing the Northern Lights, especially during the winter months when the park is blanketed in snow.

Located in northeastern Ontario, Killarney has a team of resident astronomers to help you get to grips with the starry sky above, and there's even yurt-style accommodation so you can enjoy the meteor showers and aurora borealis in complete comfort.

5. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

With over 100km of hiking trails, Sleeping Giant is a fantastic destination if you love the outdoors. The idea of hiking around the park, spotting deer, lynx and some of the 200-plus species of birds before some northern lights viewing at night sounds pretty incredible.

6. Manitoulin Eco Park

Escape to the world's largest freshwater island and marvel at the Northern Lights from Manitoulin Eco Park, where dark skies and natural beauty abound. The eco park is located on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron, making it one of the most picturesque and remote locations on this list.

7. Quetico Provincial Park

Experience the tranquillity of the wilderness and the magic of the Northern Lights in Quetico Provincial Park, a pristine wilderness area renowned for its rugged beauty.

Located in Northwestern Ontario, Quetico has been given the coveted International Dark Sky Park certification by the Dark-Sky Association, making it one of Ontario's best spots to see aurora borealis in all of its illuminating wonder.

8. Point Pelee National Park

Located at the southernmost tip of mainland Canada, Point Pelee National Park offers a unique opportunity to witness the Northern Lights against a backdrop of marshland and Lake Erie.

Like other destinations in this list, Point Pelee has been designated as a dark-sky preserve. On selected nights, this park in southern Ontario stays open until midnight, giving you an excellent opportunity to stargaze and catch a glimpse of aurora borealis.

9. Bruce Peninsula National Park

Journey to the northern reaches of the Bruce Peninsula and be rewarded with stunning views of the Northern Lights dancing over the sandy beaches of Georgian Bay. Another dark-sky preserve, Bruce Peninsula has top-class camping facilities so you can make a weekend of your aurora viewing.

10. Moosonee

Moosonee is located in Northern Ontario and sits on the west of Moose River, near James Bay. To make your northern lights adventure even more exciting, hop on the Polar Bear Express up to Moosonee and take in the breathtaking views and scenery as the train carves through the landscape.

3 Tips for Seeing the Northern Lights in Ontario

1. Check the aurora forecasts: Keep an eye on websites like Aurora Forecast to plan your trip during periods of heightened geomagnetic activity and increase your chances of seeing the northern lights.

2. Choose dark skies: Opt for locations away from urban areas and city lights to maximize your chances of seeing the auroras in all their glory. Light pollution can be a real problem, which is why we included so many dark sky preserves in this guide.

3. Be patient and flexible: The northern lights can be elusive, so patience is vital. Be prepared to spend several nights observing the night sky, and don't be discouraged if you don't see them right away. If you can afford to, be flexible with your travel plans so you can adapt to changing weather conditions and optimal viewing opportunities.

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V: 1.50.0 All rights reserved. January 2020