The Yukon is one of the best places in the world to view the northern lights, and Dawson presents the opportune spot to catch the aurora!
What are the northern lights?
Northern lights are the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere, with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere that produce energy in the form of light. Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding, the altitude at which the aurora occurs, the density of the atmosphere and the level of energy involved.
Green is the most common colour seen from the ground and is produced when charged particles collide with oxygen at lower altitudes. Occasionally the lower edge of an aurora will have a pink or crimson fringe, which is produced by nitrogen molecules. Though most of the auroras we see here are green, there are many times where pink/purple lights will make an appearance.
Where is the best place to view the northern lights?
The aurora can be seen in the northern or southern hemisphere, in an irregularly shaped oval centered over each magnetic pole. The lights are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south. Lucky for us, Dawson City is located right in the middle of this aurora oval! The best way to see the lights are from an area with little light pollution, such as in the small communities like Dawson.
Where can I watch them in Dawson City?
Wherever you are in Dawson, if the lights are out you will be able to see them from anywhere in town! Just step outside your hotel room and let them dance above you.
Alternatively, if you are out on the town, listen for someone coming in to the establishment and shouting “the lights are out!” and share the experience with some newfound local friends!
For an even more spectacular show, pack a thermos of hot cocoa, a blanket and dress up warm to head up to the Midnight Dome for dazzling views of Dawson in addition to getting closer to the lights above.
Don’t have a vehicle? Contact The Klondike Experience and inquire about their aurora borealis viewing tours!
How will I know if the lights will be visible?
Check out these sites for up to date aurora forecasts:
What are the best times of year for northern lights viewing?
The northern lights can be seen in Dawson from the end of August until April, pending clear weather conditions. Most commonly they are visible near the midnight hour, but with our long nights during the winter months they can be seen earlier in the night as well.
Northern lights viewing is an experience like no other. If you are visiting us during the winter months, we sincerely hope that they will grace you with their magnificent presence!