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Northern lights in Michigan: How to best catch them now

Northern lights appear over Miner's Beach in the pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
It’s a long ride from lower Michigan to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in the U.P., but perhaps this sight will make it worth it. (Shutterstock)
  • April is one of the best months to see the northern lights in Michigan  
  • The phenomenon is caused by solar particles mixed with the earth’s magnetic field 
  • There are various places in the Upper Peninsula where the northern lights can be readily seen, and a few in lower northern Michigan

May 10: Northern lights may be visible in Michigan Wednesday, Thursday nights
April 24: Northern lights visible in Michigan: where to see aurora borealis forecast

Early spring offers one of the best times to view the northern lights in Michigan and, generally speaking, the farther north and greater distance from big city lights you can travel the better. 

There is still time in April to catch the ethereal light show, though it’s elusive, requiring a mix of clear skies, a dark night, keeping tabs on meteorological forecasts and a bit of luck.


The high northern latitudes of the Upper Peninsula and its unobstructed view from the southern coast of Lake Superior make it one of the best places in the U.S. mainland to catch aurora borealis, which appears across the night sky and are most commonly seen near the planet’s northern and southern poles. 


The months of April, October and November (near the spring and fall equinox) are peak viewing times; it’s when solar particles are most likely to react with the Earth’s magnetic field, producing ribbons of blue, green, pink and violet light. 

What time to catch them 

The northern lights are most visible in the night sky so optimal hours for viewing them are after 10 p.m., according to Michigan Technological  University, with many experts suggesting waiting until after midnight. 

How to predict them  

While the northern lights happen year round, they aren’t always the easiest to spot, and even experts can’t always predict their arrival far in advance. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has a 30 minute forecast that can be used to predict the best day and time to go see them. There are other apps that can be used to predict when they will be  most visible. 

Best Places

Several places in northern Michigan attract thousands of people every year to see the northern lights. 

1. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore — Munising

A wide horizon with an unobstructed view across Lake Superior makes it easier to see the northern lights. 

2. Tahquamenon Falls State Park — Paradise 

Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan’s second largest state park, is another wonderful park location near Lake Superior, making the northern lights easy to spot.

3. Marquette

There are various places near Marquette including Sugarloaf Mountain and Presque Isle Park that are great places to see the northern lights. 

4. Isle Royale National Park — Keweenaw County 

This national park is one of the least visited parks but that helps make it an ideal location to see the northern lights because the night sky is very dark. 

The Upper Peninsula isn’t the only place Michigan residents can see the northern lights. Even though they aren't as common in lower Michigan there are a few places where the northern lights may still be visible. 

  1. Leelanau State Park- Leelanau County 
  2. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore- Traverse City  
  3. Port Crescent State Park- Port Austin 
  4. The Headlands International Dark Sky Park — Mackinaw City

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