This is the prime season for one of nature's great displays, but you might have to travel a ways to see it. The aurora borealis, aka the Northern Lights, is best seen at northern latitudes, and that means you'll have to pack your warm winter clothing — after you survey a few Web sites to survey the possibilities.
Leave your passport at home and catch a flight to Alaska where clicking on "Winter Vacations" will take you to "Northern Lights Viewing," a directory of several tour companies and resorts that specialize in showing you the lights in comfort. For an unfortunately brief glimpse of the show, visit their "Alaska Photo Gallery" and search for the lights. Check out "Travel Specials" to see if anything suits your plans.
You could also head inland to Fairbanks which claims to be one of the best spots around for seeing the aurora; look for the entry under "Features" on the left of the page. And while you're in the state, the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race coming up on March 1, might give you a reason to visit more of Alaska.
There's even an Aurora Forecast from the University of Alaska Fairbanks to give you a hint of what could be coming, but it's only a short-term forecast.
Next door to Alaska in Canada, the Yukon has more opportunities for aurora-viewing travel. Click on "Outdoor Adventure" to "Aurora Viewing" for links to tour companies and a resort at the city of Whitehorse. Check out "Plan Your Trip" for travel packages, airlines and travel tips, including licenses for hunting and fishing. A service not listed on the Yukon Web site, Aurora Borealis & Northern Lights Tours Yukon has a collection of tours, their own aurora forecast page, and a video (really a slide show with an annoying sound track).
A little more out of the way, in Canada's Northwest Territories, the city of Yellowknife has "Things To Do" that include admiring the Northern Lights. It modestly says the city is "the best location in the world" for seeing the lights. The place can get nasty cold — minus 40, which they call "crisp" — but that's not enough to keep away thousands of aurora watchers. And there's a link to the local aurora forecast.
A bit farther south, in the province of Alberta, Fort McMurray opens its "Northern Lights" page with a sample from Robert Service's poem of the same name. Along with links to a couple of tour companies with "Aurora' in their names, there's a pretty video if you don't mind the long download time.
Closer to the U.S. Northeast, the mining town of Fermont says its isolation in northern Quebec and low level of light pollution make it a great place to see the aurora. Isolated, yes, but you can get there by train; click on "Access to the Area." Don't fancy a winter visit to this outpost? Browse "Activity" for information on fishing and hunting.
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