When one thinks of planning an epic adventure trip, Maine probably doesn’t appear at the top of that list. However, with the northern lights in mind, Maine is one of the best places in the US to catch the rare spectacle in the sky.
The best months to see the northern lights in Maine take place between December and February. Many of the top places to view are scarcely populated, which makes it ideal for the magic to take place.
Aroostook National Wildlife Refuge
Maine is home to some of the purest, picturesque landscapes in the US. Take the most beautiful, untouched landscapes and add in nature’s most awe-inspiring phenomena, and you get pure magic.
Aroostook County sits on the USA and Canada border. The area doesn’t inhabit many humans, so the little light pollution makes it one of the best places to see the northern lights in Maine.
The best chance at seeing the northern lights require:
• Low artificial light pollution
• Low light from the Moon
• Clear Skies
• K-Index of 5 or greater
• Geomagnetic/Solar Storm
The park itself is more than 5,189 acres of forests, wetlands, and grasslands. The northern location, the quiet population, and the depths of the surrounding nature create an enchanted forest vibe to set up camp and experience the northern lights. Moosehead Lake is the favorite area in Aroostook to set up to catch the show.
Schoodic Lake is a deep lake located in Piscataquis County, Maine. The lake is 7,026 acres and sits in a desirable location for its surrounding clear and quiet skies. Lakes and other big, calm bodies of water are optimal for viewing the northern lights because of the jaw-dropping reflections they can produce on top of the water.
The serenity and solitude of the lake offer those seeking to catch the northern lights a place to set up and feel as though they are the only souls around. Knowing that the best chance to catch the best views of the amazing lights is during the winter, requires more preparation and planning to take on the cold weather. The extra layers are worth it when the crisp, cold, and pitch-black nights allow the northern lights to shine through.
Moosehead Lake is the place for adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts. The land is unspoiled and untouched and the place to be in solitude to bask in the northern lights.
The Lake is the largest in Maine and is located in the northwestern part of the state. It gets its name from the shape appearing as a moose’s head and its vast population of moose in the area. It is 40 miles long and covers 75,000 acres. It is also the largest mountain lake in the entire eastern part of the country.
The northern lights occur when the atmospheric conditions are just right. Almost like a perfect recipe, when the electrically charged particles from the sun collide with the gases from the Earth’s atmosphere, with a simultaneously clear, non-light polluted sky, the vibrant colors appear. The immense mountain backdrop and the reflections on the water make Moosehead Lake an aurora-seeker’s dream destination.
NEOC – New England Outdoor Center
The New England Outdoor Center is located just south of the entrance of Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine. The outdoor center is devoted to those who love adventure and want to make everlasting memories in the great outdoors.
NEOC offers families and travelers the comfort and service of staying close to “ home away from home” while being in a prime location to get an opportunity to see the rare natural phenomenon.
The vividness and array of colors witnessed from NEOC vary throughout the year, but the winter months offer the most promising times to catch the vibrant colors captured in photos.
The color of the Northern Lights varies depending on two factors: which of those two atoms is hit and at what altitude that occurs. Source
• Blue: nitrogen; lower than 60 miles in altitude
• Purple: nitrogen; higher than 60 miles in altitude
• Red: oxygen; higher than 150 miles in altitude
• Green: oxygen; lower than 150 miles in altitude
Sebago Lake is another one of Maine’s best lake viewing locations to spot the northern lights. It is the deepest and second-largest lake in the state. The theme continues, there’s nothing like being surrounded by immense mountains and pristine water when soaking in the northern lights.
The water is crystal clear and produces the most epic reflections of the vibrant lights.
Setting the scene – on top of one of the highest peaks in Maine, bundled up, hot drinks, and watching the sky light up and flow with colors you thought only existed in dreams and photos.
Sugarloaf Mountain is known as a ski mountain located in Carrabassett Valley. It is a part of Franklin County, Maine. It is the third highest peak in the state, which makes it a top location to view the northern lights in Maine.
(Related: 6 Best Places To See The Northern Lights In Wisconsin, The 7 Best Places To See The Northern Lights In Montana)
Tips to see northern lights in Maine
- Winter is the best time- December through February are the best months to catch the northern nights. Be sure to bundle up and come prepared for the cold weather conditions. The long, dark winter days offer the best chances to catch the northern lights in their magical act.
- The perfect shot (capturing the Aurora)- It’s human nature to want to capture and make a memory of an experience such as witnessing the northern lights. Especially, knowing the rarity of the event. It is recommended to use a manual camera where you can choose the exposure. A wide-angle shot tends to capture the lights and the surrounding landscapes the best. Believe it or not, the long exposure feature on cameras will show a more dramatic glow and color than is visible to the naked eye.
- Stay up past your bedtime- The best sightings of the northern lights have been caught between midnight and 3 a.m. Patience is key. When all the conditions are favorable for viewing, don’t fall asleep early.
- Track the forecast and remain patient- A masterpiece takes time. Know what to look and plan for when tracking the weather and conditions in your chosen viewing area. The location is just a location without the proper solar activity, sky conditions, and K-index. Use weather websites specific to northern light tracking such as Space Weather and NOAA.
The most northern, clear, quiet, pure, and solitary place to catch sight of the most desired natural phenomena is the state of Maine. Maine offers a variety of locations, both high and low to give every aurora seeker their dream northern lights experience. Although Maine is known for its harsh winters, the extra layers and effort it takes to plan the adventure and set up the most dreamy camp spot for viewing make the experience that more memorable.