Best time to travel to Minnesota

Northern Lights in Minnesota

Minnesota’s location makes it one of the best states to view aurora borealis

Best time: September–February

When you see northern lights face to face—flashing, weaving, and pulsing across the starry sky—it feels like pure magic. The night is lighted up with a river of greens, purples, and reds. It seems like the whole universe is waving hello! Minnesota is a state that offers polar lights chasers a supply of several ideal spots to witness the beauty as it is.

Best time to witness northern lights

Long, starry nights of fall and winter make months from September to February well-known for northern lights journeys. However, there is no set period of discovering the impressive light display, and you must be a lucky person to witness one of them. In fact, the weather affects light activity significantly, especially space weather: solar flares of the sun and the solar wind stream.

Cook County

There's no reason to travel to the Arctic Circle to see Aurora Borealis. Thanks to its northern location and dark skies, Cook County is blessed enough to host this miracle. Admire the Milky Way shining and northern lights along the Gunflint Trail and over Lake Superior. Best viewing spots include White Sky Rock, Artist Point, Hawk Ridge, and Little Stone Lake. Just keep away from light pollution and be careful while hiking in the dark.

Lake of the Woods and the Northwest Angle

Lake of the Woods and the Northwest Angle are the locations, where you will find a panoramic view of the forests and waters by day and, sometimes, the northern lights by night. The Northwest Angle is deemed the northernmost point in the continental states, which is separated from the rest of Minnesota by Lake of the Woods. Keep in mind that to get to this beautiful spot, you will have to drive through Canada for about 40 miles.

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park provides extensive views of clear night skies from its waterways. Here, visitors can see splendid northern lights displays and even meteor showers. The park recommends finding a high spot free of branches. The best viewing areas in the park include Rainy Lake Visitor Center upper parking lot and Meadwood Road Day Use Area.

Best places to see northern lights outside of Northern Minnesota

There are also remote and urban locations in Minnesota that provide a perfect stargazing environment. Mid- and southern parts of Minnesota, such as Lake City, Park Rapids, Mankato, St. Cloud, Rochester, and Stillwater are known for hosting an occasional northern light show. They also boast constellations on any clear night.

Silverwood Park, in a few miles from downtown Minneapolis, hosts after-dark displays for visitors to investigate. There is a world to learn about the captivating things occurring there after the sun sets.

Practical info

Where are some popular locations for viewing the northern lights in Minnesota?

Minnesota has many excellent locations for viewing the northern lights, including Cook County, Lake of the Woods and Northwest Angle, and Voyageurs National Park. Urban and remote locations like Park Rapids, St. Cloud, Rochester, and Stillwater offer occasional Aurora Borealis sightings, but locations with limited light pollution are the best for observing. Visitors can also indulge in stargazing activities organized in some parks and take part in water adventure activities like kayaking or fishing. Show more

What other activities can visitors do at Voyageurs National Park besides seeing the northern lights?

With over 84,000 acres of water in the park, visitors can try kayaking, boating, or fishing for fish like walleye and northern pike. In winter, visitors can opt for ranger-led snowshoe hikes and explore the snow-covered landscape. The boreal forest also holds many secrets waiting to be explored. Show more

Are there any urban locations in Minnesota where the Aurora Borealis can be seen?

Several urban locations in Minnesota, such as Rochester, Stillwater, St. Cloud, Mankato, and Park Rapids, are known for occasional Aurora Borealis sightings. However, these sightings are less frequent and intense than in rural areas with limited light pollution. Visitors can indulge in stargazing activities organized in some parks and engage in activities like hiking, biking, or fishing when not observing the northern lights in these locations. Show more

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Last updated: by Dari Vasiljeva