How to see the Northern Lights in the Porcupine Mountains

If you’re lucky, your trip to the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County will coincide with one of Mother Nature’s best shows: the Northern Lights. The western Upper Peninsula can be the perfect place to take in this one-of-kind show—here’s what you need to know.

What are the Northern Lights?

This impressive natural light show occurs when particles ejected from the sun collide with Earth’s atmosphere, creating an impressive display of whirling greens, oranges, reds and purples in the night sky.

Where can I see the Northern Lights?

What’s the best place to see the night sky? Anywhere there’s an open space—along the shores of Lake Superior, natural clearings, treeless hills or an empty field. In the Porcupine Mountains, you’ll find plenty of cottages and cabins along the shores of Lake Superior, giving you an ideal viewing spot. The Northern Lights are rarely seen overhead, so you usually need to be able to see down to the horizon, and the southern shore of Lake Superior is the perfect place for that.

When can I see the Northern Lights?

You’re most likely to see the northern lights between August and April in the Upper Peninsula, with April, October and November being the best times. Pick a clear, crisp night (and make sure that there’s no lake-effect snow in the forecast if you go in the winter months).

See more tips from U.P. Travel here.

And even if the Northern Lights aren’t visible on your trip, the lack of light pollution in the Upper Peninsula means you’ll see a sky full of stars—you can even make out the edges of the Milky Way on a clear night.

Where can I stay in the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County?

As mentioned, many of the area’s lodging properties sit on the shores of Lake Superior, offering you a front-row seat to a perspective Northern Lights display.

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Note: Please travel safely and responsibly when you are visiting the Porcupine Mountains and Ontonagon County. Some businesses and facilities may have modified hours or procedures; please contact them directly for information. See Michigan’s latest coronavirus orders here.



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