B.C. Bucket List: Catch the Northern Lights

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Whether you grew up on the West Coast, have recently moved here or are just planning to visit, there’s no doubt you’ve got a bunch of adventures you can’t wait to cross off your bucket list. To help you prioritize, we’re sharing some of our must-do B.C. experiences so you don’t miss out.

Experience: Admire the Northern Lights

Location: Various locations

Bucket list factor: If you’ve ever seen the Northern Lights zigzagging across the night sky in person, you know that it is a truly magical experience. Late fall to early spring is the prime season to view these shimmering lights, as the colder months (October to March) offer more hours of darkness and cooler climates for the best visibility (minimal moonlight is also recommended, so midnight to 5 a.m. is your best bet).

Also known as Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights are best seen over rural communities where there is the least amount of light pollution. Below are some prime locations for lights gazing in the province.

The Alaska Highway

The stretch of Alaska Highway from Dawson Creek to the border of northern B.C. and Yukon provides plenty of stops for potentially catching the Northern Lights. Dawson Creek is a small town located just off the highway with plenty of mountains and glorious wilderness surrounding the town centre. The open skies in this area offer a beautiful canvas for the Northern Lights to paint across. Liard River Hot Springs is a spot farther up north where the lights have reportedly been spotted. What’s more, the rare ‘red Aurora’ has also reportedly been seen here before. Take a dip in the hot springs before heading to nature’s light show.

Prince George

As the largest city in northern B.C., Prince George offers a wide canvas of dark skies. Visit the Prince George Astrological Society’s observatory and use their .61-metre Cassegrain Telescope or eight-inch Celestron Telescope to see all the details of the night sky. Salmon Valley is also a great spot for watching.

Sakinaw Lake

Just north of Sechelt, Sakinaw Lake is another prime location to catch the Northern Lights. Shrouded by coastal mountains and towering spruce trees, this spot offers excellent visibility as the Aurora reflects off the dark lake waters.

It’s important to note that seeing the elusive Northern Lights is not guaranteed even in optimal conditions and locations. That being said, some online tools like My Aurora Forecast and Aurora Alerts can help maximize your chances.