Nachusa Grasslands, IL | Aurora Borealis – Isle Royale NP, MI |Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK | Effigy Mounds National Monument, IA | Ice Age Trail, WI | Garden of the Gods to Lusk Creek Canyon, – Shawnee NF, IL
Witness the far north’s mind-blowing light show without leaving the Lower 48. Locals swear that Isle Royale’s night sky rivals the Yukon’s, and Heneghan’s best experience was in September at the Wood Lake Campground. He slid into his kayak and paddled out on inky-dark Siskiwit Lake.
“With the fluctuating greens, blues, and yellows billowing above and reflecting below, it was like paddling through a sea of light,” he says. See it yourself by launching from Malone Bay; explore 4.5 miles (one-way) around Siskiwit Lake and Ryan Island, passing through northern pike fishing grounds in the western cove, and camp at the Malone Bay Shelter. Best in fall.
Driving From Grand Portage, take Mile Creek Rd. to the ferry ($61 one-way; $31 for kayak/canoe, isleroyaleboats.com).
Map NOAA Nautical Chart: Great Lakes #14976 (free, download at nauticalcharts.noaa.gov)
Contact (906) 482-0984, nps.gov/isro