Where to See Northern Lights Near Toronto

Take your Toronto trip up a notch by heading out for a nighttime excursion to see the Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights.

This atmospheric phenomenon transforms the night sky into a multi-coloured canvas, most striking during certain times of the year. The best part? You can catch this vibrant display of dancing colours near Toronto. 

​Best viewing spot near Toronto

Toronto’s city lights may not be the best backdrop for catching the Northern Lights. Thankfully, the Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve, tucked away in the pristine wilderness just northwest of Gravenhurst, is less than 200 km (or about a two-hour drive) from Toronto. It provides an unmatched experience for those who love to gaze at the stars.

This remote preserve, paying tribute to the traditional territories of the Ojibway, the Chippewa, the Algonquin, and Odawa, holds the title of the world’s first permanently designated Dark Sky Reserve. 

Surrounded by unique Canadian Shield bedrock, you can enjoy 360-degree panoramic views of celestial wonders. A photographer and nature lover’s paradise, the granite surface provides a stable foundation, making it the perfect base for tripods and telescopes.

When to plan your Aurora Borealis trip

Choosing the right time is crucial when setting out on an Aurora Borealis adventure near Toronto. The prime seasons to catch this colourful spectacle are fall and winter.

Plan your visit between October and late March to see the lights illuminate the polar skies as charged particles from the sun interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. To witness the northern lights at their most magical, head out between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. during those pitch-black, sun-free hours.

Remember to be mindful of the weather conditions. While the colder months offer clearer skies, December and January often have more cloud coverage, potentially obscuring the view. Opt for nights with a forecast of cold, clear skies to maximize your chances, as they significantly enhance the aurora’s visibility.

See the lights

Check out the Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve visibility forecast before making the drive from Toronto. Timing your visit with one of the larger solar flares increases your chances of seeing the event up close and personal.

The Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve is the best spot to catch the northern lights near Toronto. With perfect timing and a bit of luck, you can witness this breathtaking light display, turning your Ontario adventure into a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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