• pond surrounded by green brush, reflecting a distant range of snow-covered mountains that are dominated by one massive mountain

    Denali

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Aurora Borealis and Star Gazing

 

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

The aurora is a beautiful, if hard to predict, phenomenon, occurring year-round. Only in the fall, winter and early spring, however, is there enough darkness to allow us to see the northern lights when they occur.

By the second week of August, the night sky is dark enough to potentially allow views of the aurora. The amount of darkness increases each night, as Denali turns farther and farther away from the sun.

Learn more about lightscapes and the aurora borealis.

 

Stargazing

With long hours of darkness, the fall, winter and early spring can be a fantastic time to view stars in Denali.

By the second week of August, roughly, the skies are dark enough to allow some great views of the night sky from midnight until two or three in the morning. Denali loses daylight rapidly in late August and September, so that you need not be a night-owl to enjoy the night sky by late September.

The long hours of darkness continue through early April, though by the end of that month the sun is making its stunning, and often welcome, return; and it eventually obscures all glimpses of the stars during the summer months.

 
image of star-lit sky over Wonder Lake
Clear, cold nights can be amazing opportunities to view stars when in Denali.
nps photo / jacob w. frank

Did You Know?

a lake reflecting a tree-covered hill

The vast landscapes of interior Alaska are changing. Large glaciers are receding, permafrost is melting and woody plants are spreading. Comparison of "then-and-now" photographs and data from major vegetation monitoring should allow detection, understanding and potential management of these changes.