Dark Sky

Northern Lights at Rockwood

A highlight of a BWCAW adventure is the spectacular night skies that cannot be seen in more settled areas–like home.

From the brilliant spread of the Milky Way to the Aurora Borealis cavorting across the horizon you will always remember the night skies you’ve seen on your canoe or hiking trip.

In 2020, the Boundary Waters, along with the Quetico Provincial Park in Ontario and the Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota, were designated as Dark Sky Sanctuaries by the International Dark Sky Association. The Dark Sky Association is a non-profit dedicated to protecting night skies for current and future generations.

Dark Sky on youtube

Many people raised in urban environments have never seen the Milky Way in their night sky, much less the Northern Lights, as the Aurora Borealis are known in these environs.

Every year, people from around the world travel to Cook County to experience the Northern Lights, the Milky Way, and the northern night sky.

Cook County, home to Rockwood Lodge and Outfitters, hosts an annual Dark Skies Festival each year to celebrate dark skies. It brings in top notch speakers to discuss threats to and protection of the relatively few parts of the world where light pollution barely exists.

This year the events will take place December 7 to December 9. There will be lectures, workshops, science and nature exhibits, and events that include getting outside to see the dark skies up close.

Even if you don’t plan to attend the festivities this year, getting out to appreciate the night sky is a year-round activity.

Whether camping or staying in one of our cabins, get out and find a comfortable place to sit or recline and look up to the sky. You don’t need to be an expert on stars and constellations to have your mind blown by the beauty of the night skies here in our sanctuary.

If you want your stargazing to include the northern lights, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. First, it is darn near impossible to predict when they’ll come out waving. Seeing them can be as tough as seeing a moose in the wild. But there are online apps that can accurately predict when conditions for aurora activity are likely, but none that can predict the exact time of night they’ll come out to play. And clouds can keep you from seeing everything in the night sky.

So be patient. The sights and sounds of the dark sky and the woods around you will blow you away.

The staff here at Rockwood can help you find the best stargazing locations on your route.