How to chase the Aurora

woman holding lantern in the snow under the aurora northern lights

Ready for your first Aurora chasing adventure? Well, look up! Your host or your hotel will be happy to introduce you to Aurora chasing, a seasonal NWT activity best done late at night in early fall, or from mid-winter to spring.

Aurora in Prelude Territorial park while rv camping

In late August and September, you can chase the Aurora on your own - head away from the lights of town. That might mean a beach, a dock, or a large field, with just a few trees on the horizon.  Dress warmly and bring a flashlight, your camera and a tripod. If you are driving - never stop on the road, pull off for safety.

purple aurora with people

You might be hoping for a clear night, but if that's not possible, there's an alternative. Guided aurora chasing is popular. A local tour operator can often locate a viewing area where the stars and aurora poke through the clouds. Choose a guided adventure by minivan, snowmobile or dog team.

Aurora Northern Lights Pine Lake Fort Smith

You'll be introduced to the lore of the Lights as you travel, watching the sky. Usually, the chase succeeds with a terrific view of the Aurora, not far from town. Everyone gets their fill of dancing lights, and then, back in the cozy van or a warm tent, you'll be served hot chocolate or tea to take the chill off.

Fall Aurora reflected over lake

Some of the best Aurora viewing is right beside a lake, where, in autumn, the Aurora sparkles on the water, or in winter, when a vast snowfield takes on the colours of the sky. If you want to capture the Aurora for the folks back home, bring a tripod and set your camera for a minimum five second exposure. And bring some extra batteries. Their power fades quickly in the cold.

couple looking up at Aurora Northern Lights Inuvik romance

Before you start out, dress warmly, especially in winter, when a turtleneck sweater, down jacket or parka with hood, a toque or fur hat, scarf, mitts, wind pants and really warm insulated boots are essential. You'll be standing, looking up in awe, and the chill can creep in. Check with your tour guide. Most offer warm winter gear for loan or rent.

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