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!
What is the best time of the year to see the Northern Lights in Idaho?
Between the months of September and March is the ideal time to view the Northern Lights in Idaho. However, the occurrence of the natural phenomenon depends on the solar activity, making it unpredictable. For a greater chance of sighting, visitors should go out on a dark and clear night between 10 pm and 2 am. Tracking the latest forecasts and following these timings will help visitors in maximizing their chances of seeing the Northern Lights. Show more
Where is the best place in Northern Idaho to see the Northern Lights?
Panhandle National Forest is the most popular viewing location for the Northern Lights in Northern Idaho. Visitors can also check out the Schweitzer Mountain Resort or the Priest Lake for a great view of the aurora reflections. Hill's Resort and Heyburn State Park on Chatcolet Lake are also similarly picturesque. To take the best photographs, visitors should hunt for a spot with fewer obstructions and unobscured visibility. Show more
Is it possible to see the Northern Lights from southern Idaho?
While sightings of the Northern Lights are less frequent in Southern Idaho, it is possible to observe them. Visitors may catch a glimpse of the phenomenon over the Craters of the Moon National Monument during a solar storm. Nevertheless, Northern Idaho is more likely to offer sightings. Visitors should plan their visit well and keep track of the latest forecasts to increase their chances of spotting the Northern Lights. Show more
What time of the night is the best for Northern Lights viewing?
The best time to view the Northern Lights is between 10 pm and 2 am when the skies are darker making the display easier to see. Visitors should look for a spot with few obstructing elements and unobscured visibility to get the best view. However, as the phenomenon is unpredictable and may last briefly, patience and persistence are critical. Visitors should enjoy the experience and try to spot the Northern Lights during their visit. Show more
What is the chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Idaho compared to Alaska?
While it may not be as well-known as Alaska, Northern Lights are visible in Idaho. While the probability of seeing the lights in Idaho is less compared to Alaska due to its southerly location, Idaho's wide and dark horizons offer ideal conditions for aurora sightings. Visitors should manage their expectations and track the forecasts to maximize the chances of witnessing the Northern Lights during their visit to Idaho. Show more