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You Don’t Have To Leave North America To See The Northern Lights

Have you ever wanted to go see the northern lights? Planning an adventure to see one of nature’s most awesome spectacles might feel a bit out of reach. The countries often associated with the best views of the aurora borealis, such as Finland, Norway and Sweden, require U.S. travelers to head overseas.

But for those who want to stick a little closer to home, North America actually has numerous locations where the northern lights occasionally put on a fantastic celestial show.

The northern lights occur when charged particles from the sun collide with the earth’s magnetic field, according to NASA. A similar phenomenon happens in the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s known as the aurora australis, or southern lights.

The northern lights happen year-round. However, each year from late fall through the winter months, the aurora borealis hits its peak visibility thanks to darker and longer nights. To get the best views of the aurora effects, you’ll need to be a night owl. They hit their peak usually between 11 p.m. and midnight in many places.

Whether you want to stay within the U.S. or venture north into Canada, here are five top spots to see the northern lights in North America.

Northern lights over Fairbanks, Alaska
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Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Head to the upper peninsula of Michigan and you just might catch some of the colors in the sky. The U.P., as the locals call it, has notoriously dark skies due to minimal light pollution — the region has a low population density. This makes for prime viewing conditions.

In Mackinaw City, Headlands International Dark Sky Park offers visitors the chance to bring blankets to watch the night sky and get a glimpse of the northern lights. It can be hard to predict when they will happen, but the park’s official website offers

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