Best time to travel to Toronto

Northern Lights in Toronto

The magical phenomenon can be just a short drive away from Toronto

Northern Lights

Toronto is located in the southern part of Ontario which puts it beyond the aurora oval where the stunning natural phenomenon can be seen the best. However, you will still have a good chance to catch a glimpse of dancing lights in just a few hours from the city. The phenomenon of Northern Lights is caused by geomagnetical activity or disturbances which are measured in Kp-Index on a scale from 0 to 9. The Kp-Index has to be at least 4 for a successful aurora hunt in the Toronto area. You have almost no chances to see it in the big city because of light pollution. You have to get away from Toronto and try your luck on the shores of Lake Ontario. Or drive a bit further to visit one of the designated dark sky areas nearby.

Torrance Barrens Night Sky Reserve

Torrance Barrens Night Sky Reserve is the closest stargazing and aurora watching spot to Toronto, and it's also famous for strong geomagnetic activity. The reserve occupies 1,990 hectares (5,000 acres) comprising of bedrock and wetlands. Trees and bushes are stunted in height which makes the area perfect for sky observation. You can also visit Muskoka Lakes for some stunning reflections for your aurora photos.

Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island is washed by the magical Lake Huron that serves a perfect mirror for the glowing natural phenomenon. Visit Gordon’s Park Eco Reserve which is located on the northern part of Manitoulin Island. It is a great spot to observe Northern Lights because of its pollution-free air and dark skies.

Lake Superior

You'll have to drive for about 8-9 hours to get to Lake Superior from Toronto. However, it's totally worth it. Lake Superior is known to be one of the best spots for aurora borealis hunt in North America. Thousands od aurora chasers flock to the lake to make their Instagram-perfect pictures of the dancing lights. You can drive along the Lake Superior shore on Highway 17 between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie for some stunning displays. Also, Lake Superior Provincial Park and Pukaskawa National Park provide many scenic lookouts where you can put your camera or telescope for a perfect aurora shot.

Practical info

Where can I see the Northern Lights near Toronto?

If you are looking for a spot to see the Northern Lights near Toronto, the Torrance Barrens Night Sky Reserve is the nearest place to do this. Manitoulin Island, Pukaskwa National Park and Lake Superior Provincial Park are other great locations you can visit. Even though Toronto is situated in the southern part of Ontario and not in the best aurora-viewing location, these locations provide excellent opportunities to view the dancing lights. Show more

What is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Toronto?

For the best opportunity of seeing the Northern Lights in Toronto, you should choose to visit between September and March when the nights are longer and darker. The equinoxes offer the strongest geomagnetic activity. Weather conditions such as clear skies are also important factors when viewing the Aurora in Toronto. Check provincial park web resources for Aurora forecasts and to stay updated on weather changes. Show more

How far should I drive from Toronto to see the Northern Lights?

If you are looking for a unique Northern Lights experience, then drive away from Toronto for a few hours. A short drive from Toronto will bring you to Torrance Barrens Night Sky Reserve, while Manitoulin Island is a bit further but still very accessible. An exceptional experience is about 8 or 9 hours from Toronto to Lake Superior, specifically along the Lake Superior shore on Highway 17 between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie for stunning views. Show more

What Kp-index do I need to see the Northern Lights near Toronto?

To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, you should aim for a Kp-index of 4 or higher. The Kp-index measures geomagnetic activity or disturbances, on a scale of 0 to 9, where 0 is very little activity and 9 is the highest. The aurora gets stronger as geomagnetic activity increases. To determine the Kp-index for your desired viewing location, check an aurora forecast website. Show more

Where can I find the designated dark sky areas near Toronto?

You can find designated dark sky areas near Toronto in places such as Torrance Barrens Night Sky Reserve, Muskoka Lakes region, Bruce Peninsula National Park, Algonquin Provincial Park, Killarney Provincial Park and Quetico Provincial Park, all of them offering excellent stargazing opportunities as well as great views of the Aurora. These places have pollution-free air and dark skies, making them ideal locations for witnessing the Northern Lights phenomenon. Show more

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Last updated: by Olga Valchyshen