Northern Lights Viewing      

 Bettles Lodge

They rippled green with a wonderous sheen,
they fluttered out like a fan;
They spread the blaze of rose-pink rays
never yet seen of man.
They writhed like a brood of angry snakes,
hissing and sulphur pale;
Then swift they changed to a dragon vast,
lashing a cloven tale.

          .From `The Ballad of the Northern Lights' by Robert Service


                                 Daniel Osborn, Research Professional at University of Alaska Geophysical Institute and Author of "The Aurora Explained" says:

"The location of Bettles directly below the Aurora Oval offers a great opportunity to see wonderful Aurora displays"

Over a decade ago, Bettles Lodge pioneered Aurora Borealis Viewing north of the Arctic Circle in the foothills of the Brooks Range.   We built the Aurora Lodge in addition to our historic Bettles Lodge to add room options for our winter guests. We included amenities such as in room jacuzzi tubs, sauna, and an aurora viewing location at the Aurora cabin. Others have since tried to copy our aurora viewing tours but none have been able to match our services or our facilities combined with our premier location. Our personal experience of providing service to Arctic travelers for over 25 years assures you we have both the knowledge and experience to make your trip a safe rewarding experience.  We look forward to seeing you in the Arctic!!  dan and lynda

Click here to read our guests comments     or     Click here to send us your comments!

Read about our winter tours in the current "Go World Travel" as travel writer Leslie Forsberg samples our Arctic hospitality!!

What is the aurora oval?

An oval band situated between magnetic latitudes of 64 and 70° where the visible aurora occurs overhead. During disturbed geomagnetic conditions, the auroral oval generally expands equatorward. Areas within the auroral ovals are called the polar cap.

The auroral zones represent the places on earth where auroras occur most often and with greatest intensity. It was the Swiss physicist Herman Fritz (1829-1902), in the 1881 book "Das Polarlicht." who first showed that the northern lights have a maximum zone close to 67 degrees north. He called this belt the auroral zone. Thus, the auroral zones encompass the statistical distributions in latitude of all visible, night side auroras. The more detailed location of the auroral zones is based on professor Størmer's extensive auroral observations between 1910 and 1950.


Why Bettles? Bettles Alaska is located at 66° 54' N Latitude putting Bettles directly under the maximum zone.  Traveling either farther north or farther south takes one farther from the maximum auroral zone. Our location combined with the National Weather Service records indicating Bettles has the most "cloud free" days of any spot in Alaska, increases your chances of seeing the Aurora . Unlike other Alaskan destinations where you must pay to go to "some other spot" for good viewing , Aurora viewing in Bettles starts right outside your door. All the Aurora pictures here were taken next to the lodge.  There are no mountains or hills that block the night sky in Bettles. For those who want a "little more remoteness", we have a heated  "Aurora Viewing Cabin" that is completely free of any light pollution from the Village.  The cabin is located 2 miles from the Lodge on a small hill over looking a mile long lake. There is a 360 degree view of the night sky from the cabin.  Although you can view the Aurora from indoors at the cabin, the full Aurora experience is best viewed from out of doors. And yes it does get cold in Alaska in the winter! But at Bettles Lodge you can stay nice and warm with your own private Jacuzzi or relax in our large wood fired sauna! We do furnish Arctic Gear for you including parka, boots, pants, mittens and face warmer to keep you nice and warm outside.

When to Go  The northern lights can be seen from late August  through mid-April.  Please keep in mind weather is the primary factor in viewing the Aurora. If it is overcast the aurora cannot be seen.  Although we do get great displays in the early season, Aug to mid-Dec, there is more chance of cloudy nights. The best viewing weather is generally from mid-December until the end of March.  During the winter season we also offer dogsled rides, which can range from 30 minutes or, if you prefer, be extended to an afternoon, full day or even longer.  Other activities include flight-seeing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing. cross-country skiing and village tours.  The extra daylight in Feb. and March is a great time for flight seeing in one of our aircraft and allows more time to see animals such as moose, caribou, arctic hare, red fox and snow birds. 

Weather  Fall is the transition time in the Arctic. Cooler days and nights below freezing are the norm. The fall colors usually start in mid-august. Temperatures in the fall are still mild enough to allow summer outdoor activities up until the third week of Sept.  Daytime temperatures can range between the 30's and 70's. Fall is the wettest time of the year with Aug. and Oct. having the most cloudy days.  Winter arrives in Bettles in Oct. with snow remaining on the ground until May. During the early winter season (Oct-Nov) depending on snow levels we begin the winter activities.  Average daytime temperatures in Oct. and Nov. range from +5 to +25.  Dec. is our highest snowfall month with daytime temperatures averaging around  zero.  December  also has the least amount of daylight . The winter solstice is on the 21st of Dec. when the sun does not come above the horizon.  January, February and March have the most clear days overall.  January is historically the coldest month with average temperatures around -20.  Daylight returns rapidly in Feb and March with increases of 6 to 8 minutes a day.  Feb. and March are great months for outdoor activities as the sun warms daytime temperatures and there is about equal daytime and darkness.  After March 21st Bettles has more daylight than any location south of Bettles. There remains enough darkness for Northern Lights viewing up until about the 10th of April.

Additional Activities  We do offer add-on  activities both during the winter and summer.  Please keep in mind that you are coming to the Arctic! Additional activities are weather dependant.  During the early season, Sept thru Nov, dog sledding opportunities will be dependant on snow levels.  

Booking Information  Please email us (you can use our Information Request Form) or call us for current pricing and availability. We do require a deposit  of 50% of the trip cost at the time of booking. The balance is due when you arrive.

Payment Method  We do accept personal checks or credit cards for deposits and payment. We accept visa, master card, and discover card.

Getting There  You will want to make your airline reservations into Fairbanks. We provide the flights from there. It will probably be necessary to spend the first night in Fairbanks and depart the following day to Bettles. We work with several Hotels in Fairbanks and do get a reduced rate. We would be happy to make reservations for you at our rate. If you are planning to depart Fairbanks on the same day you leave the lodge, make your airline reservations for late afternoon or evening. Your flight from Bettles to Fairbanks generally gets you into Fairbanks around noon.

Cancellation Policy  Reservations cancelled more than 30 days in advance will be charged a $100. cancellation fee. Reservations cancelled less than 30 days in advance will be charged entire deposit. Cancellation fees and deposits may be applied to a new reservation within 12 months of the original reservation date.  



Aurora Lodge You can view and check out the Aurora Lodge Here

Bettles Lodge You can view and check out the Bettles Lodge Here

Or visit our Home Page at: Bettles  for more information


(Aurora over the Bettles Lodge and Aurora Lodge compliments of Chris Madeley)


Request Information(click here)


Aurora Viewing Tips

Based on our 25+ years of viewing the Aurora in Bettles, here are some tips for maximizing your experience. 

Although there is not any definite times the aurora is visible, the most typical times are between 10:00 pm and 2:00am.  That being said, the aurora can be visible anytime it is dark enough to see. If you are fortunate, seeing the aurora during sunset or sunrise is a spectacular site. The NOAA site is the most accurate of the forecast sites for real time activity.  Guests can monitor the site at the lodge. When looking at Aurora forecasts, keep in mind that activity levels refer mainly how far South the aurora will extend. If the level is "high" then the aurora will be visible over a wider area. If it is "low" it will be visible over a smaller area. With our location under the "oval" we have many times that the forecast is low and we have spectacular displays. Some people book around the "new" moon for maximum darkness for viewing. Although we do not discourage this, we have seen some of the most spectacular auroras with a full or nearly full moon.  The contrast with the moon and the aurora is spectacular and can add, not distract from the viewing.  The main factor in viewing the aurora is the weather.  If it is overcast the aurora is not visible. Our cloud free nights is one of the reasons there is such a high success rate in our guests seeing the Aurora in Bettles. PLAN ON OUTDOOR VIEWING.  We cannot stress this enough.  There are some Alaskan destinations that promote indoor viewing. This is just a "sales" pitch. Indoor viewing has never been successful, or popular,  for several good reasons. The location in the night sky of the aurora is totally unpredictable.  Most of the time it is a full horizon to horizon event with much of the activity being directly overhead.  A 360 degree view of the night sky is imperative for not missing the activity. Obviously, if you are facing in one direction with a roof over your head, you are going to miss most of what is happening. It is like watching a football game when you can see less than half of the field. You may see some of the activity but you are going to miss the game.  The only way to experience the full beauty and wonder of the aurora is to be outside under the entire night sky. Although our temperatures can be extreme, our cold is a very dry cold with little humidity and it is rare for there to be any wind when it is cold. Staying warm and comfortable viewing out of doors is not hard as long as you dress properly.  There are links below that will give you some great tips for taking photos of the aurora. Many of our guests have taken great aurora pictures their very first try using the suggestions on the sites. 

The following photos were all taken by guests visiting Bettles Lodge:  (click on the image to see a larger picture)

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Award winning photo at the 53rd Nika Photography Exhibition in Tokyo Japan.
  Aurora over the Bettles Lodge 

Photo by Kenji Chono



Links to Information about the Aurora:

NOAA Real Time Northern Hemisphere Aurora Activity

University of Alaska Aurora Forecast

Photographing the Northern Lights

Using a Digital Camera For Northern Lights

What is the Aurora?

Guest Web Pages and Pictures

Bettles Aurora    Photos by Japanese Photographer Hiroshi Ando

Photos at Bettles     Ramesh Gopals

Aurora Videos by the University of Alaska

Request Information(click here)

For more information about us go to:

Bettles Lodge Home Page

Bettles Lodge, P.O. Box 27, Bettles, Alaska 99726

Voice (USA) Toll Free Reservations Office 800-770-5111 

Fairbanks Reservations Office 907-479-7018  Fairbanks Fax 907-479-7028

(International)  001-907-479-7018

Bettles Office  907-692-5111 Bettles Fax 907-692-5655


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