Discover the best place to see the Northern Lights in the United States

A winter trip to Voyageurs National Park is not for everyone. But tourists who venture into Minnesota’s only national park — one of the least visited in the country — are rewarded in the colder months with views of the best Northern Lights in the United States.

The light show can be seen when the Sun produces the ideal radiation during nights with clear skies, in the highest latitudes of the planet, where the magnetosphere loses its intensity.

Located above the ionosphere, more than 640 kilometers above the Earth, the magnetosphere is bombarded by debris and solar radiation. The Earth’s magnetic field deflects these harmful rays and particles. If earthlings find the right position in the darkest places, they can witness this bombardment known as the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.

In shades of green, pink or blue, the lights form bands and curtains across the sky, turning into beams of spotlights or blazing like an interstellar explosion. Sometimes these lights take the form of a delicate cedar leaf or streams crashing against rocks. At Voyageurs — considered, in 2020, an International Dark Sky Park or International Dark Sky Park — this spectacle runs up to 200 nights a year. The park is one of the many reasons northern Minnesota was named one of the world’s top destinations by National geographic.

Wawatay is the name the Ojibwa have given to the Northern Lights. To this day, they claim the Wawatay are ancestor spirits who dance in the sky to celebrate life and remind viewers that we are all part of the celestial wonder of creation.

early explorers

Voyageurs National Park is surrounded by state and national forests, such as Canada’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Quetico Provincial Park, and others. Collectively, these spring and forest protected areas are known as “boundary waters”.

The Ojibwa (also known as Chippewa and Anishinaabe) have inhabited the area since at least the early 17th century, coming from the East Coast in search of food. They gathered rice in the border waters and hunted animals for their skins, trading them with the French-Canadian explorers who arrived in 1688 for ammunition, flintlocks, blankets and axes.

The park is named after those French-Canadian merchants known as travelers, or travelers, who roamed the interconnected border lakes more than a century before the founding of the country. These vigorous mountaineers – famous for the songs they sang during their missions – paddled huge birchbark canoes, trading and transporting furs from the farthest reaches of North America to Montreal.

Traveling in brigades of four to eight canoes, they headed west in search of furs. The advances (“advanced men”) were in the headsail, while the Rudders (“rudders”) were nine meters behind aft with oars up to 1.8 meters. real iron men travelers they used to move at a rate of up to 55 strokes per minute, dipping their oars in perfect sync while singing songs about lost love, time, or animals.

They relied on the Ojibwa to act as guides and canoe makers, as well as to provide herbal medicine and spiritual guidance. But in 1900, the Ojibwa were forced to live on reservations around the Great Lakes region in the United States and Canada. Currently, they live on seven reservations in Minnesota: Red Lake, Bois Forte, Grand Portage, White Earth, Leech Lake, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs.

Around the same time, loggers and miners replaced the old travelers. But when the region’s brief period of heavy mining ended, local miners, saloon owners, merchants and other explorers left Rainy Lake City just a few years after settling in the Northwoods. This place with a humid climate was very popular and inhabited by about 200 people. Years later, however, tourists continue to visit the peaceful ghost town.

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