Aurora Borealis Northern Lights - North Shore Lake Superior

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are a fantastical manifestation of natural light and color, and for most people, these lights can only be  enjoyed on National Geographic. But many people visit the North Shores of Lake Superior for great opportunities to witness the glory of the Northern Lights. Today, your family or small group can witness these lights from the comforts of your vacation rental located in Grand Marais, Lutsen, Tofte, Chateau LeVeaux and Bluefin Bay.  The North Shore of Lake Superior is the perfect location to enjoy the Aurora Borealis. 

The Physics of the Northern Lights

Though it seems like magic that creates such an amazing display, physics and science are the real artists for the these northern lights. The flares are created when particles charged with electricity, coming from our sun, mingle with Earth’s atmosphere. The lights, known as Aurora Borealis in the northern hemisphere, and Aurora Australis in the southern hemisphere, can range from yellow to blue to green and more, with their shades depending on what type of ions are interacting. Nitrogen, for example, creates a rare purple or blue hue.


While it’s almost impossible to predict when the Northern Lights will occur, there are certain signs you can look for. Sientists believe that the occurrences seem to follow a base cycle, peaking every 11 years. You don’t have to wait that long to spot them, however! Sun spots have also been long believed to indicate coming flares of activity, and your best chances are going to be late fall into the deep winter. You’re also going to want to make sure you have some warm coffee – viewing is best from 1am to 4am. Weather is an additional important factor, as far as visibility is concerned. Clear skies with little to no moonlight are ideal, allowing the brightness of the Aurora Borealis to show their full range of color and beauty. Such nights offer dual benefits – even if the Lights don’t appear, you’re sure to get an astounding display of the stars! 

Those of you who are camera savvy might have an edge as well. It’s been found that the Northern Lights actually appear better on camera, because our eyes don’t always pick up all the different shades of light. Setting up a tripod with a long exposure setting means not only do you get to experience the show first hand, but perhaps even more spectacularly later. Of course, if you’re a morning person, you might just let the camera do the heavy lifting all together while you stay cozied up in bed!

Watch the Lights along Lake Superior from your Vacation Rental

Of course, where you are is also very important for hunting the Northern Lights. Generally, the further North you can go, the better. Luckily there are plenty of great accommodations tucked into the thick woods of the Boreal Forest including your vacation rentals in Grand Marais, Lutsen, Tofte, Chateau LeVeaux and Bluefin Bay. Take a drive up the Gunflint Trail into the depths of the forest, or try your hand south of the Canadian border. Regardless, it’s easy to vacation in luxury, while still being tucked far enough away from the quaint townships of the shore, that their lights won’t interfere with your viewing. In some cabins, you may not even need to leave the cozy comforts of your home away from home, with many offering excellent views of the night sky. Curl up in the living room or on the porch with some thick blankets, and settle in to wait for a show. 

The bottom line is that there is no definitive way to predict when or where you can see the Northern Lights. However, up here on the North Shore, conditions are perfect. With a little patience and some luck, you might find yourself in a front row seat to one of the most awe inspiring natural occurrences in the world.