This is a small group northern lights photo tour for photographers and sightseers alike, though due to demand and limited seating, no discounts are available for non-photographers.
Ssshhh, it’s a secret, but we have several favorite spots within a 70-mile radius of Anchorage that offer wonderful views of the night sky, and great land features such as reflective lakes, forests, coastal waterways, and mountain peaks. After pickup at your Anchorage area accommodations, the locations we visit for this northern lights photo tour are based on conditions at the time. We may travel to 1-3 locations during the evening.
If your aim is to take home aurora images of your own, you will need the following:
- Camera with manual settings
- Wide angle lens wide aperture (something in 24-70mm f/2.8 range will work well, but the wider the better)
- Charged battery (preferably at least 2)
- At least 16GB memory card
- Sturdy Tripod (we have a tripods available to loan)
- Smartphone users are recommended to upload an aurora app and bring a phone tripod
For gear recommendations, visit our Photo Accessories idea list on our Amazon storefront (commissions earned)! Headlamp recommendations are in our Winter Outdoor Gear idea list.
Photography equipment rental is available upon request.
This is a moderate activity that involves short walks on snow and ice. Weather conditions may include wind, and temperatures range from -20ºF [-29ºC] to 50ºF [10ºC].
A specially outfitted high-top 12-passenger van. Driver is your photography guide.
Q: How likely am I to see auroras?
A: Aurora viewing is dependent on both space and earth weather. While forecasts for the former are based on much scientific data coming from many tracking stations, space weather tracking and research is still in its infancy, and data is available only from a limited number of satellites. It’s best to expect the unexpected. Based on the previous year’s statistics, conditions were right to run 28% of the scheduled tours. Of the tours that ran, auroras were seen 90% of the time. Data from this season indicates that if aurora forecast is Kp1, chances are at least 50% to see the northern lights. Your chances increase greatly the more nights you have available to tour. This is why our four-night pass is a great option!
Q: What are my reservation options?
A: You can either reserve for a single night or purchase a four-day pass, which allows you to see the aurora as many nights as the tour runs during that time.
Q: Are there refunds if auroras don’t show or are not very active?
A: We do our very best to run the tour when forecasts indicate conditions are optimal to see auroras. Nature sometimes surprises us in pleasant and unpleasant ways. Whatever happens, it is our aim to make the best of it. We will show you a variety of night photography techniques and prepare you for taking advantage of a better aurora viewing situation you will hopefully experience in the future. Once the tour commits to run and you have submitted payment, there are no refunds regardless of conditions. However, if we do not see the aurora at all during your tour, you can join us on a subsequent night for free if we have paid guests booked for that night.
Q: What happens if I book the four-day pass and successfully see auroras early on?
A: Your pass is good for all four days, and you are welcome to join us on remaining days during your pass.
Q: I made a reservation, what’s next?
A: Enjoy your day in Anchorage and if the weather is favorable, it might be wise to take an afternoon nap. Check the aurora report here by 2:00 p.m. and if the tour posts to run, you will receive an email by 7:00 p.m. with a pickup time at your location.
Q: How far from Anchorage does the tour travel?
A: Our destination each night will vary according to conditions, but we usually travel within a 70-mile radius and visit 1-3 locations.
Q: How long will I be outside?
A: Up to 2 hours. There are some locations where we may stay within close range of the vehicle, and others where we may walk up to 1-mile. Much depends on conditions and capability of the group.
Q: Are there restrooms available?
A: Not many. Most State Park restrooms are closed this time of year and there are few other options available in the wee hours of the night, other than a bush or tree. Toilet paper is provided.
Q: Will I learn to photograph the northern lights?
A: Yes! This is a northern lights photo tour guided by a professional photographer who will help you set your camera in advance and explain what the settings do. We want you to enjoy seeing them and photographing them!
Q: Do I have to be a photographer to take this tour?
A: No! We have many sightseeing guests. The tour is guided by professional photographers, so if you would like a complimentary aurora portrait you can have one.
Q: I’ve heard Fairbanks is the best aurora viewing location in Alaska, can you really see auroras from Anchorage?
A: Anchorage is within the aurora oval (region on earth where auroras are most frequently seen), and has its fair share of viewable nights. There are also some distinct advantages for aurora chasing in Southcentral Alaska.