The Best Viewing of Northern Lights in Upper Michigan

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Are you a nature geek who seeks out rare natural phenomena to experience during your travels? Nature is indeed full of wonders which fascinate – one such magical and astonishing natural occurrence is that of Northern Lights in Upper Michigan – the stunning Aurora Borealis. 

Watching the Northern lights can be an unforgettable experience and hence makes it on almost every traveler’s bucket list. Usually, adventurists head off to places like Iceland, Norway, Alaska, Canada, Finland, and Greenland, in search of this spellbinding occurrence. 

Contrary to popular belief, you can spot Northern Lights in Michigan as well. All you will have to do is to pick the right place, pull over and relax into the night – Aurora Borealis is quite visible in Michigan and you are in for a treat!

Northern Lights in Upper Michigan – Nature’s Nightlife

What do the northern lights look like? How will I know I’m seeing them?

Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the Northern Hemisphere (the southern lights also occur and are called Aurora Australius) and are caused by Solar Storms pushing electrified gas and particles our way and the Earth’s magnetic field reacting with it. It is a complex reaction that produces the lights and colors.

There are ample pictures on the internet that show the Aurora Borealis as an explosion of colors in the night sky like green and purple swirls shooting across the lit sky. The pictures look enticing and almost like there is a party going on in nature!

This is true to some extent, but this is a best-case scenario. Usually, Aurora Borealis looks like a milky white, glowing cloud. If you are lucky that day, you might see a faint, almost other-worldly glow of neon green and purple and magenta too. The multi-colored streaks are very rare and have been seen by less than 1% of Aurora Borealis fans across the world.

All said and done, do not expect disco-esque feel when you go else you would be let down. This video frm National Geographic shows it well:

1Also, the phenomenon looks a lot cooler in photographs and through the camera’s lens as it is meant to pick up more amount and range of light as compared to our eyes.

In Michigan, sometimes you can differentiate the colors, but mostly it’s just a little green on the horizon and pretty white spikes seem to be shooting into the sky. At higher latitudes, as one goes to Iceland or Norway the green is more and intense in shade as well.

When can you see the northern lights in Upper Michigan?

They say the best time to see this natural phenomenon is around an equinox, that is once every six months and usually lies in the month of March and September.

In the Upper Peninsula, you are highly likely to see the Northern Lights in the months of August and April. The peak months here are April, October, and November. You must pick a clear, crisp, and cold night to experience the best of Northern lights. 

Best locations with a shot of seeing the northern lights in Upper Michigan

For a good show, it is important to grab the right spots. Enjoy the natural show from the best viewing spots in the Upper Peninsula. The farther north one goes, the higher is the likelihood of seeing the lights better. Go to Lake Superior where its southern shore offers an unobstructed view of the horizon to the north.

When in Michigan, the Northern Lights are almost never directly overhead so you need to be able to see down near the horizon.

Some of the tourists’ favorite spots are near Brimley, Whitefish Point, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising, Au Train, Marquette, Big Bay, Skanee, Eagle River and Copper Harbor.

The best part about these locations is the lack of pollution resulting in clear and crisp nights, free of any particulate suspensions in the sky.

Also, these locations are pretty close-by and quite in the vicinity of a lot of ski – resorts, making it a nice touch to a vacation. You can do both the things in one holiday!

Upper Michigan Ski Resorts

You can have a nice skiing holiday while you are stargazing and chasing Northern Lights in Michigan. There are many options for Upper Michigan Ski Resorts which are excellent lodging and boarding places. You can have a combo vacation and enjoy best of both worlds!

Get our Tips for Great Photos!

northern lights bucket list

Here are some places you can consider:

–        Mount Bohemia – one of the most popular ski resorts located in Keweenaw Peninsula with 70+ named trails and amateurs/ beginners are not allowed here.

–        Blackjack ski resort – this resort is located in the western Upper Peninsula in Michigan. This resort offers affordability with a great mix of trails so that everyone enjoys.

–        Pine mountain resort – this resort is a four seasons resort and entertains any kind of skier as it has a family friendly environment.

–        Ski Brule – this resort has a long season of 6 months and hence is very convenient for all as it has a great variety of terrains.

–        Marquette Mountain – The resort is on the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They allow and entertain skiers of mostly intermediate to advanced level.

So what are you waiting for? Book your trip to Michigan and start hunting for this outworldly , once in a lifetime, experience. 

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