The Great Canadian Adventure Co. (888-285-1676, www.adventures.com) offers four- to six-night packages from about $415 per person double (transportation not included) in secluded lodges outside of Flin Flon, Manitoba; Whitehorse, Yukon; and Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Air from D.C. starts at about $700 round trip. Smithsonian Journeys has a five-day tour (March 10-14) to northern Alberta led by astronomer Douglas Hube. The all-inclusive (except for airfare) tour costs $1,545 per person double and begins in Edmonton. Participants then proceed to a wilderness lodge near Fort McMurray. Details: 877-338-8687, www.smithsonianjourneys.org.
General info on Canada: www.travelcanada.ca.
The aurora borealis is worth the trip to Blachford Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories.
Though it is the easiest and cheapest spot to get to from Washington -- thanks to Icelandair, which flies out of BWI -- Iceland's location astride the Gulf Stream means that it is more apt to be cloudy. On the other hand, winters here are generally mild, and there are plenty of indoor and outdoor things to do while waiting for the nocturnal show to begin.
Check out Icelandair's winter package deals. The weekend Northern Lights Quest begins at $539 per person double and includes air and two nights in a hotel in Reykjavik, with the second night devoted to a coach tour to see the lights. Those reluctant to gamble on just one night should consider the three-day add-on to Akureyri and Lake Myvatn, on Iceland's less cloudy, northern coast. Prices from $188. Details: 800-779-2899, www.icelandairholidays.com.
General info on Iceland: 212-885-9700,www.icelandtouristboard.com.
IF YOU DON'T LIKE THE COLD . . . stay home and visit www.aurorawebcam.com for nightly photos of the aurora taken from atop Alaska's Mount Aurora.
-- Marshall S. Berdan