The Aurora Borealis (or the Northern Lights) is one of the greatest natural phenomenon in the world, and rightfully so, is on quite a few travel bucket lists. Named Aurora after the Latin word for sunrise and the Roman goddess of dawn, aurorae are crazy beams of color that light up the night sky, caused by electrically charged particles from the sun interacting with the upper atmosphere near the north and south poles, giving them an awesome, other-worldly quality.

Photo Credit: Anson Chappell

The self-proclaimed Aurora Capital of the World, the Northwest Territories of Canada are one of the best places to view the phenomenon, with the capital of Yellowknife getting over 240 potential viewing nights a year. With perfect geographic positioning under the Auroral Oval, the semi-arid subarctic climate makes for clear, cool nights with virtually no light pollution and flat landscapes ideal for unobstructed views.

Photo Credit: Scott Lough

Here are 8 cool (no pun intended) and unique ways to experience Nature’s Greatest Light Show in the Northwest Territories:

  1. View the Lights from an outdoor hot tub at Blachford Lake Lodge
  2. Ride a snowmobile out to Great Slave Lake
  3. Take a sled dog tour out to a remote log cabin to get one-on-one with nature
  4. Find a frozen pond (they make for great photos) and bring a thermos of hot cocoa
  5. Hear legends and tales from North Star Adventures, an aboriginal owned company
  6. Hone your photography skills with Aurora Ninja Photo tours
  7. View the lights from a heated teepee in Aurora Village
  8. Go with a naturalist. Learn about native species of moose, fox, caribou, pine martins, and birds as you take in the splendor of the entire region.

If you can’t make it all the way to Canada or are itching for a sighting, check out AuroraMAX, a virtual astronomy center and observatory where you can view a daily feed of the lights from their website during the winter months.