Saskatchewan is a great place to see the Northern Lights. This centrally located Canadian province has easy access to some of the darkest skies on earth, it is geographically located under the aurora oval and it is a large province with a diverse landscape to explore.
For most people seeing the northern lights is a magical experience near the top of their bucket list. Saskatchewan can provide a more affordable and accessible option than heading to the far north to see the northern lights.
The southern half of Saskatchewan is seemingly endless open prairies but as you head north through the parklands you will discover that half of Saskatchewan is forest. The forest blocks the spreading light pollution from the southern prairies and provides unobstructed views of a truly dark night.
The Boreal Forest spans across Saskatchewan and creates a border of Provincial Forestry (shown above by the black line). As you can see in the comparison above, the light pollution (shown as colours on the map) ends near the provincial forestry line. This means half of the province enjoys some of the darkest skies on earth!
Although access to the northern half of the province is fairly limited, the easier accessible areas along the fringe of this forestry provide excellent views as you look north toward the true darkness provided by the Northern Provincial Forest in Saskatchewan.
Having chased the northern lights in Saskatchewan for over 7 years, the most common question I get is : where can I see the northern lights in Saskatchewan?
The aurora is high in the sky and not location specific across the province, if it’s out, it will be out for most of these locations at nearly the same time. Access to dark sky is most important. In general, areas further north will have better views of the aurora higher up in the sky.
Here is a list of some of my favourite locations, places on my list and tips for those in the major cities wanting to see the northern lights in Saskatchewan.
Hudson Bay, Saskatchewan
Hudson Bay is a great place to see the northern lights in Saskatchewan. Most of my work is captured around here. It is a cozy small town that is completely surrounded by forestry. As a result, it has no light pollution just minutes from town.
With no major communities within an hour from Hudson Bay, there is a lot of space to enjoy the forest, rivers and lakes in the area. Cell service is limited and having a Garmin In Reach satellite two way communicator is recommended.
Nipawin, Tobin Lake and Carrot River are all small communities within a short drive of each other. This area is along the Saskatchewan River and the forest fringe, where the farmland of the southern prairies meets the forest. The area is diverse and allows for some dark northern views, especially north of these communities.
Narrow Hills Provincial Park
Narrow Hills Provincial Park is located in a remote area along highway 106 that travels north of Smeaton SK. up to Flin Flon, MB. This is a great area to be able to camp, fish and explore the wilderness. This park is further north which means the aurora doesn’t have to be as strong to reach higher into the sky, making it a great place to see the northern lights in Saskatchewan.
Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park is located north of Prince Albert and is mostly forested, allowing for great views of the night sky. This is a large park that has a lot of remote wilderness. Waskesiu is a small community located within the park and can be a good base point for exploring the area.
Big River, Saskatchewan
Although I haven’t personally explored this area yet, I hope to someday soon. Much like the other locations I choose, Big River is located along the edge of the boreal forest in Saskatchewan. As a result, the Big river area is another spot that is great for the lack of light pollution, access to nature and northern views.
La Ronge, Saskatchewan
Another place I need to get to someday soon. La Ronge is a bit further north than most of the locations on my list and if you’re looking for a longer road trip, this drive will take you more into the rocky terrain of the Canadian shield.
The scenery changes as you travel through the forest and up into the northern areas of Saskatchewan. The northern areas of the province are some of the best places to see the northern lights. Without the impact of spreading light pollution experienced in the prairies, the north provides true wilderness and pure dark sky. I have seen some incredible aurora photography from these areas and look forward to catching a show up in the rocky landscape someday soon!
Meadow Lake Provincial Park
Meadow Lake Provincial Park has really great dark skies. As you drive north into the forest and leave the light pollution behind, the beauty of the sky is impressive. It’s a large park with a variety of lakes to catch a reflection and if you are looking for a long hike, it is also home to the one of the largest hikes in Saskatchewan, The Boreal Trail.
Saskatoon & Regina Areas
If you are flying into Saskatchewan you will find yourself landing in one of two international airports, either Saskatoon or Regina. Although there is a lot of light pollution right in the city, it doesn’t take long to get to somewhat dark locations. Or if you live in one of the urban centres there are options nearby to see the northern lights.
Of course by adding light pollution the views are not as incredible near an urban centre compared to when you can get far away from the city. For those in Saskatoon heading east or west of the city is best, finding a spot where there isn’t as much light pollution on the northern horizon. Depending on the strength of the show, the northern lights can be visible within the Saskatoon city limits.
For those in Regina, the aurora strength does need to be higher to see it. You would want to head north of the city and then east or west to get out of the light pollution as much as possible. Another option is to head far south to Saskatchewan’s two dark sky preserves: Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park or Grasslands National Park. The northern lights would have to be stronger to see them this far south, but it is possible. Having truly dark sky is the best first step to increasing your chances.
The rural areas across the province are the best for night sky views. Again, the further north you can get, the better. Small towns and villages scatter the province and are all great places for a home base to explore the night sky views.
Saskatchewan has more roads then driving around the world four times which is a great opportunity to head out on a rural road to find a safe place to park and just enjoy the night sky.
That completes my list of best places to see the northern lights in Saskatchewan. With options throughout the province hopefully you are lucky enough to catch a show!