Northern Lights In Glacier National Park Over Lake Mcdonald
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How To See The Northern Lights In Glacier National Park

The northern lights in Glacier National Park, Montana, are truly breathtaking. Seeing this wonder with your own eyes can be life-changing. Experiencing them in the mountains over the dancing reflections on Lake McDonald is a story worth telling to future generations. The only problem is, how do you see the northern lights in Glacier National Park?

What Are The Northern Lights?

Watch The Northern Lights In Glacier
The dock is the perfect viewing spot to experience the northern lights on Lake McDonald.

The northern lights, known as the aurora borealis, are one of nature’s most spectacular sights. They appear in a tapestry of colors such as light green, pink, purple, and blue across the night sky.

The mysterious glow is created when electrically charged particles from the sun interact with Earth’s magnetosphere and collide with gasses in the upper atmosphere.

Can You See The Northern Lights In Glacier National Park?

Watch The Northern Lights Lake Mcdonald
It is a stunning park with an even more stunning night sky.

Yes, the northern lights can be seen in Glacier National Park. Being so far north, this is a great place to see the aurora borealis.

During the day, visitors of all ages can enjoy the wide range of activities available, such as hiking and riding in historic red buses.

But when night sets in, an enchanting display of wonder awaits – to witness the majestic northern lights dancing across a starry night sky.

Seeing them come to life amidst this outstanding landscape is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

With its ideal location and clear skies away from city lights, Glacier National Park offers one of the best places to see the northern lights in all their glory!

How To See The Northern Lights In Glacier National Park

1. What Is The Best Time Of Year To See The Northern Lights In Glacier National Park?

 Northern Lights Lake Mcdonald
The lake can’t help but enhance the dancing reflections of the night skies.

The best time to see the northern lights in Glacier National Park is during the spring and autumn equinoxes. Earth’s magnetic field lines up with the sun’s solar winds, leaving cracks in the magnetic field and allowing particles to enter the atmosphere.

It can be pretty cold and snowy at the park during this time. My recommendation is to go in September or early October. The nights are getting longer, and the snow hasn’t started flying yet.

2. What Is The Best Place To See The Northern Lights In Glacier National Park

No matter which location you choose at Glacier National Park, you won’t be disappointed with the northern lights display!

Northern Lights Glacier National Park Northern Lights Lake Mcdonald Looking Glass Road
Colorful displays paint the night sky in Glacier National Park.

Lake McDonald

The best place to watch the northern lights is near Lake McDonald, just inside the West Glacier entrance.

The lake provides a wide open space for viewing and is within enough distance from the mountains to see the aurora borealis fully.

The Lake is usually pretty calm, too. The lights reflect on the water’s surface, bringing a new dimension.

There are also quite a few places to stay near Lake McDonald, which makes seeing the northern lights over the water much more convenient.

Logan Pass

The other place worth watching the northern lights is Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road. The view is unhindered by surrounding mountains and can be seen through the far-off peaks.

Logan Pass on Going-to-the-Sun Road offers visitors an incredible view of the northern lights. There are few obstructions so that the lights can be seen miles away in all their glory. With the stunning and serene backdrop of mountain peaks and valleys shrouding the natural phenomenon, this special place’s views inspire awe and wonderment in those fortunate enough to experience it. You can embrace nature’s beauty from Logan Pass as you marvel at this spectacular light show in its purest form.

One of the biggest downfalls of viewing here, however, is that there are no lakes for the lights to reflect off of. If dancing reflections are on your bucket list, it is recommended that you see one of the other two spots listed.

Bowman & Kintla Lakes

While many visitors try their luck at experiencing this phenomenon from Lake McDonald or Logan Pass, if all else fails, Bowman Lake and Kintla Lake provide fantastic refreshments for the otherworldly experience.

Both locations are easily accessible and offer unpolluted night skies, perfect for admiring the Aurora Borealis. Kintla Lake, in particular, is perfect for avid photographers looking for a picture-perfect opportunity; its lack of light pollution ensures pictures turn out as vibrant as what is seen in person.

3. Plan When To See The Northern Lights In Glacier National Park

 Northern Lights Lake Mcdonald Silhouette
A view like that happens once in a lifetime.

The sun experiences cycles of solar flare activity that usually peak every 11 years. The last time this activity peaked was in 2013. Therefore, the best chance of seeing the northern lights in Glacier National Park is in 2024.

If you’re planning on going to the park earlier than that, don’t worry. The northern lights will gradually become more common as we approach 2024.

If you are planning your trip around aurora viewing, check out the Aurora Forecast tool from

4. Go Out Nightly For The Best Chance At Witnessing The Northern Lights

Northern Lights At St. Mary Looking Glass Road
The dancing lights shine above Saint Mary.

Heading outside at night is a great way to experience Glacier National Park’s beauty, especially if you hope to glimpse the stunning Northern Lights.

Creating a nightly routine that includes plenty of darkness between 8 pm and midnight will offer the best opportunity for success in seeing this spectacular light show high above.

Allowing yourself some extra time to take in the diverse landscape of Glacier National Park could prove rewarding when spotting this unique event.

5. Check The Weather For The Park

Northern Lights In Glacier National Park Over Lake Mcdonald
The stunning northern lights over Lake McDonald

Before entering Glacier National Park, check the weather to glimpse the mesmerizing northern lights. After all, what’s the point of making the trip if thick clouds block your view? Staying informed about the weather conditions ensures clear skies and increases your chances of witnessing this natural spectacle. Don’t let clouds rain on your parade—plan ahead and make the most of your northern lights experience in Glacier National Park.

Tips To Maximize Your Northern Lights Adventure

If you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the northern lights in Glacier National Park, you don’t want to miss out on capturing it.

Make sure your camera settings are up to the task, whether you’re using a dedicated camera or a mobile phone. Phones from recent years are usually good in low-light conditions, but if yours is older, you might need to adjust some settings before taking pictures; things like shutter speed and ISO can make a big difference.

That way, when your friends ask to see what you saw in Glacier National Park, you’ll have plenty of photos that truly show off the natural beauty of the northern lights.


Viewing the northern lights in Glacier National Park is an amazing experience few get to see. If you are lucky enough and the opportunity arises, visit Lake McDonald to see the best light show of a lifetime.

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