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Best time to travel to Idaho

Northern Lights

The recipe of aurora encounter in Idaho is a mixture of luck, patience, persistence, and low expectations, yet chances are real!


Last updated: by Olha Savych
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The premier northern lights location in the US is surely the northernmost state of Alaska. However, occasionally aurora borealis visits other northern states too. The dark skies and vast horizons of Idaho have good prospects to see the natural phenomena, but only under certain conditions, which are hard to predict in advance.

When to look for the northern lights

Depending on the solar activity, the season when it's more likely to happen stretches roughly from September through March, and sometimes beyond. The best time is a dark and clear night between 10 pm and 2 am.

Where to find aurora borealis

Panhandle National Forest

Northern Idaho naturally boasts the most frequent and vibrant exposures of the polar lights. On the expanses of the Panhandle National Forest, you'll find several prominent spots to check out. Visit Schweitzer Mountain Resort with its spectacular mountain peaks, only 12 mi (20 km) north-west of Sandpoint. Or head to Priest Lake or Hill's Resort for a great shot of aurora reflections.

Heyburn State Park

Another picturesque location to capture aurora dancing across the skies is Heyburn State Park on Chatcolet Lake, tucked between Plummer and St. Maries. Explore scenic lookouts opening from the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes that traverses the park. You'll want to capture the lights flickering on the horizon with the iconic bridge in the frame.

US-95 north of Moscow, ID

A drive along the US-95 could take you right to a spectacular celestial show. Watch out for the northern lights as the highway winds by the rolling Palouse plains just north of Moscow, ID. As long as you're into a road trip, continue your adventure through to Tensed and further north until you feel like taking a break.

Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve

During solar storms, the northern lights are also visible from southern Idaho. Try to catch the otherworldly shimmer above the Craters of the Moon National Monument, where the skies are dark enough to make your dream come true.

At last, we suggest keeping your expectations low, so that your aurora hunting experience in Idaho could turn into a pleasant surprise. Track the latest forecasts and good luck with your pursuit of the northern lights!

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