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Where to Chase the Northern Lights in Alpena, MI

Posted on March 24th, 2023
It’s happening! The Aurora Borealis, a.k.a the Northern Lights, is predicted to make an appearance in the Alpena area and you are scrambling to pack up your gear and get to the best spot, save this for later!

The best spots to view the Northern Lights will always be in areas will low levels of light pollution – and we have 3 perfect spots for you at our designed dark sky preserves!

If you are currently in Alpena

The closest dark sky park to the city of Alpena is Rockport State Recreation Area. Rockport is just 11 miles north of Alpena via US-23 N. to Rockport Rd. Follow Rockport Rd. all the way down to the end.

The northern lights dancing over Lake Huron

The Northern Lights dancing over Lake Huron on March 23, 2023.
Photo captured by Rick Houchin

Rockport is Michigan’s 100th State park and includes an abondoned limestone quary, more than a dozen sinkholes, 400+ million year old Devonian Period fossils, a bat hibernaculum, historic ghost village, deep water port and pier, and a portion of Middle Island.

If you are just north of Alpena

The closest dark sky park is either Rockport or Thompson’s Harbor State Park. Thompson’s Harbor State Park is 26 miles north of Alpena on US-23 N.

Primitive marked hiking trails weave through Thompson’s Harbor State Park’s varying terrain. Second growth forest with more than 7 miles of Lake Huron shoreline of limestone cobble beaches, and deep sand dunes await adventures. The park is home to Michigan’s state wildflower, the Dwarf Lake Iris, which is under special protection.

If you are just south of Alpena

The closest dark sky park is Negwegon State Park. Located 20 miles south of Alpena on US-23 S. Follow US-23 S. to Black River Rd. and follow Black River Rd. East 1.5 miles, turn north onto Sand Hill Rd., and then go another 2.5 miles and turn East at the Negwegon State Park sign. Another 1.5 miles down is the day-use parking area.

A kaleidoscope effect of the northern lights

A kaleidoscope of the Aurora Borealis!
Photo by Rick Houchin

At Negwegon you can transport yourself back in time and hike through the wilds of Michigan, just as rugged and pristine as when the first settlers arrived in Northeast Michigan.

To find out more information, download our Dark Sky Preserve Parks Adventure Guide or stop by and see us at our Visitor Welcome Center located at 420 N. 2nd Ave. in downtown Alpena.

Additionally, you can keep track of when and where the Northern Lights will be by following the KP-Index. You can find out more about how to do this by clicking the link HERE.

Cover photo by Rick Houchin, taken the night of March 23, 2023