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Best time to travel to Michigan

Northern Lights

Go on an exciting aurora borealis chase in Northern Michigan

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Northern lights is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena. Stunning displays color the skies in green, pink, red, and purple. This natural wonder is caused by a solar wind when energetic particles float through the magnetic field of the earth. It usually occurs during periods of peak solar activity. Even though Northern Lights are often associated with Arctic Circle, the phenomenon is actually perfectly visible in Northern Michigan, especially on the south shore of Lake Superior.

Best time to see Northern Lights

The season of aurora borealis in the Northern hemisphere generally lasts from August through April. However, due to dark skies in the summer, it's possible to witness aurora in Michigan all year round. Fall and spring months are considered to be peak times as solar activity is the most intense. You also need maximum darkness and clear skies to be able to see aurora borealis. A three-day aurora forecast from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration could help pick the right time for the chase.

Upper Peninsula

The Upper Peninsula with its shoreline along Lake Superior is the premiere aurora-watching location in Michigan. The area has many spots without light pollution, trees, and tall buildings that could spoil the view. Houghton offers many potentially good spots for aurora enthusiasts. Go over The Portage Lake Lift Bridge and choose between North Canal Township Park or McLain State Park for unobscured views and low light pollution. If you head further north, Eagle Harbor, Eagle River, and Copper Harbor are perfect for aurora chase. However, almost every town on the south shore of Lake Superior offers a solid chance to see elusive northern lights.

Mackinaw City

The beautiful Mackinac Bridge that traverses the Straits of Mackinac and connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan is one of the best places in the state to make a perfect northern lights photo. Reflections and bridge illumination can add interest to your picture. However, if you are looking for some real darkness you can drive north for a few miles on I-75 and get to Headlands International Dark Sky Park, one of the six dark sky parks in the USA and a designated star gazing spot. The park occupies 550 acres (222 ha) of the really old forest and a stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline in Emmet County. The park is open around the clock. The Beach House on the shoreline is a good place to start your adventure.

Port Crescent State Park

The Port Crescent State Park Dark Sky Preserve is a perfect place to see the stars and northern lights. The park is located near Port Austin, in the Blue Water Area on Lower Peninsula. Three miles of shoreline along Lake Huron create plenty of opportunities to see and photograph aurora borealis reflections. During the day, the park offers cross country skiing in the winter. Hiking, kayaking, and fishing are possible in summer, spring and fall.

Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen