Fairbanks, Alaska is actually a winter wonderland. The rugged great thing about the snow-covered roads, bushes, and big mountains of the Alaskan Inside will dazzle guests. Fairbanks prides itself in being the principle US vacation spot for seeing the aurora borealis. Guests from across the globe make a pilgrimage to Fairbanks every winter to catch a sight of the magical, dancing Northern Lights.
There are such a lot of issues to do in Fairbanks in winter that you simply doubtless will run out of time earlier than you run out of enjoyable actions! From snowshoeing to canine mushing to sizzling springs to museums and extra, you gained’t need to miss out on a winter journey to Fairbanks.
If you wish to study the most effective issues to do in Fairbanks, Alaska in winter, this information has you lined.
Attending to Fairbanks
Fairbanks is the most important metropolis within the Alaska Inside with a inhabitants of round 35,000 within the metropolis, and 100,000 within the surrounding space. It’s fairly far north – solely 200 miles from the Arctic Circle!
Alaska Airways and a handful of different airways have direct winter flights into Fairbanks from Seattle (3 hours 50 minutes) and Delta flies on to Fairbanks from Minneapolis (5 hours 10 minutes). The Fairbanks airport is just some miles exterior of the town heart, and most of the inns present free airport shuttle service, making Fairbanks a surprisingly easy-to-reach winter vacation spot.
Transportation In Fairbanks
Renting a automotive is a should in Fairbanks, particularly through the winter. Taxis, Ubers, and Lyfts are scarce – I spent an hour one afternoon ready for a Lyft that by no means arrived. Fairbanks does have a bus service (MACS), with eight strains, however if you wish to chase the aurora borealis, get out into nature, and even simply make a fast journey to the grocery retailer, the one dependable solution to get there’s by automotive.
Ebook the rental automotive far prematurely, as there’s typically a scarcity of obtainable leases. Whereas all of the rental automobiles have studded winter tires, it’s useful in case you are acquainted with driving on snow and ice. I additionally extremely advocate getting additional windshield insurance coverage as a result of Alaska doesn’t salt its roads for traction, as a substitute, they completely use gravel and this causes a fair proportion of cracked windshields and different injury.
Finest Time to Go to Fairbanks in Winter
The winter season in Fairbanks begins in mid-October and extends by late March. Winter Solstice (December 21) noticed 3 hours and 41 minutes of daylight this yr and with it, the phenomenon generally known as “Civil Twilight” the place the solar by no means actually rises above the horizon.
To have the next share probability of seeing the Northern Lights whereas nonetheless having sufficient daylight to do different outside actions, the most effective time to go to Fairbanks is in February or March. By the point I left Fairbanks on the finish of February, I used to be handled to virtually twelve hours of daylight, however nonetheless had loads of darkness to see the Northern Lights.
Timing your go to within the later a part of the winter season may even give you a chance to expertise the World Ice Artwork Championships that happen yearly in Fairbanks from Mid-February by Mid-March.
A Be aware on Alaska Time:
In the event you plan on chasing the Northern Lights in Alaska, be ready to shift your sleeping and waking hours drastically. Aurora chasers and midnight solar seekers will discover that their sense of time shifts when visiting the far north. Construct in time in your schedule for relaxation in case you are chasing aurora borealis. Naps are key. I didn’t sleep by the evening as soon as throughout my week-long keep as a result of I used to be so centered on seeing the Northern Lights that are sometimes most lively from 11:30pm-3am.
The place to Keep in Fairbanks
Fairbanks gives a variety of lodging for each sort of traveler, together with majestically scenic lodges, Airbnbs, and basic Mattress & Breakfasts with educated hosts who’ve intimate data of the world. Fairbanks additionally has three hostels and a plethora of inns and motels.
Throughout my go to, I stayed on the charming Pike’s Waterfront Lodge, situated on the fringe of city near the airport. The lodge is adorned with Alaskana of all kinds, from taxidermy to walrus tusk carvings, native artifacts, and a really great assortment of work. Pike’s proprietor Jay Ramras’ portray assortment of Alaska scenes rivals any of the Alaskan Inside museum collections. I additionally loved the aromatherapy steam room, the aurora conservatory, and walks on the frozen Chena River simply exterior of the property.
What to Pack for Fairbanks in Winter
Layers, layers, layers. You will want loads of layers to be snug for winter adventures in Fairbanks. Fairbanks can attain temperatures of minus-40 levels within the winter and guests must be ready for excessive chilly. Throughout my keep, the temperature shifted over 40 levels, from -10F to 30F. Keep away from sporting cotton as a lot as attainable as a result of cotton absorbs moisture and traps it subsequent to your pores and skin and can make you are feeling colder. Keep on with wool and artificial materials to your winter go to to Fairbanks.
To make sure you keep heat and comfy in your winter journey to Fairbanks, I like to recommend packing:
- Wool or artificial base layers: a lengthy sleeve shirt and leggings are key for staying heat.
- Heat mid-layers: convey an insulated artificial down jacket to your journey
- Outer parka: my -25 diploma rated parka was great for all of the frozen waits for the aurora and all different outside actions.
- Heated gloves and heated socks: I used to be actually grateful to have the ability to hold my extremities heat for lengthy durations exterior
- Wool hat: I typically discovered that I wanted a hat together with my parka hood even when the temperature was simply within the low teenagers.
- Neck gaitor
- Wool socks
- Insulated snow pants: I liked my Columbia Girls’s Wild Card Pants as a result of they weren’t as puffy as downhill pants and with a base-layer beneath, I used to be loads heat and will enter outlets and eating places with out feeling like an ungainly strolling snowwoman.
- Polarized sun shades: snow is tremendous shiny and reflective when the solar comes out
- Swimsuit: if you happen to plan to go to Chena Sizzling Springs
Don’t need to purchase a bunch of cold-weather gear to your journey to Fairbanks? Alaska Aspect gives rental gear to your go to to Fairbanks and they’re going to even meet you on the airport so that you don’t freeze in your solution to your lodge!
Issues to Do in Fairbanks in Winter
Aurora Borealis Looking out
Fairbanks is world-renowned for aurora borealis viewing as a result of it’s situated beneath the “Aurora Oval”, a ring-shaped dome over the Geomagnetic North Pole the place aurora exercise is concentrated. On many bucket lists, seeing the Northern Lights in individual actually is a breath-taking expertise and was a spotlight/obsession throughout my week-long go to to Fairbanks this winter.
What’s the aurora borealis precisely?
The sunshine from the aurora is attributable to energetic electrons from Earth’s magnetosphere putting atoms and molecules within the Earth’s higher environment. The inexperienced colour is atomic oxygen and the purple/pink is atomic nitrogen. In keeping with Geophysicist Dr. Don Hampton of the College of Alaska at Fairbanks, “the aurora is a part of a photo voltaic system-wide phenomenon we now name area climate.” It’s a bit sophisticated however principally, when the photon vitality from a beforehand excited atom or molecule begins to calm, that photon vitality emits gentle and on a big scale, creates the dazzling show of the shifting, shifting northern lights. If you wish to study extra, Dr. Hampton has a pleasant rationalization of the aurora phenomenon on this Science Friday phase.
You possibly can’t simply look out your window in Fairbanks and see Northern Lights more often than not. Even in such a small metropolis, the sunshine air pollution makes seeing the aurora slightly troublesome, however not unimaginable. Touring away from the town lights is useful however much more essential is to seek out areas the place cloud protection clears.
Listed below are some ideas for seeing the Northern Lights in Fairbanks:
- Discover a place with darkish skies, away from the town lights
- Be prepared to remain up late; the most effective auroras are from 11:30 pm to three:00 am.
- Gown warmly, don’t overlook hand and toes heaters.
The Discover Fairbanks web site has a really correct aurora tracker that mixes each the aurora predictions, the climate forecast, and time of day to provide you with a really correct guess of whether or not or not the aurora will probably be seen. In case you are out searching for the aurora by yourself, the Fb group Alaska Aurora Addicts is an efficient group to affix.
Utilizing a tour firm to seek out the lights is actually useful, particularly if you happen to don’t have a rental automotive. I spoke with plenty of individuals who liked their expertise with Aurora Chasers and their pictures had been unimaginable. It’s useful to go no less than as soon as with an skilled information as a result of the aurora doesn’t appear to be the colourful pictures to the bare eye. Generally it simply appeared like white smoke. As I discovered extra, I bought higher at recognizing it however I typically needed to snap a photograph on my cellphone to substantiate that what I used to be taking a look at was the precise aurora borealis. Aurora looking requires tenacity, persistence, and a little bit of luck.
Chena Sizzling Springs
Chena Sizzling Springs Resort, situated sixty miles Northeast of Fairbanks gives many Alaskan winter actions together with outside and indoor sizzling springs, Ice Museum tour, canine sledding, geothermal and hydroponics excursions, snowmobile excursions, and massages. It’s a few 2 hours winter drive from Fairbanks. Chena Sizzling Springs arranges for a shuttle to/from Fairbanks as a part of a day-trip bundle or you may drive your self if you happen to lease a automotive.
The main focus of the resort is on the geothermal sizzling springs that characteristic an out of doors pure pool in addition to an indoor family-friendly pool home. Chena Sizzling Springs is a simple day journey from Fairbanks, or you may spend the evening of their lodge. It was cloudy the evening I spent at Chena however I liked the concept of being in a comfy sizzling spring and looking out as much as see the Northern Lights.
Downhill and Cross Nation Snowboarding
Snowboarding was one of many issues that I didn’t get to throughout my go to to Fairbanks. However given the heavy snowfall and chilly temperatures, Fairbanks hosts a large number of epic powder days. Nice cross nation trails abound from the town heart and there are many locations to lease ski gear together with the Fairbanks REI.
There are three major downhill ski areas near Fairbanks: Ski Land, Moose Mountain, and Birch Hill.
Nothing says Alaska winter expertise higher than canine mushing. Originated by the Native individuals of Alaska and Northern Canada, canines have been used to move mail, meals, and important medicines by pulling sleds throughout Alaska for hundreds of years. 2022 marks the fiftieth working of the Iditarod, the 1,000-mile canine sled race throughout Alaska which honors the traditions and tradition native to the state of Alaska. Iditarod winners immediately turn out to be Alaskan heroes as canine sledding is woven into the material of the place.
You possibly can expertise a small style of the marvel and great thing about canine sledding throughout your go to to Fairbanks through the winter. I had the chance to trip with Paws for Journey, a professionally run canine sledding enterprise. I solely went on a brief tour however I’d like to return to attend their “canine mushing faculty” the place after just a few hours of coaching, people can information the canine staff themselves.
Snow Machine Tour
There are a lot of Fairbanks tour corporations that provide snowmachine or snowmobile rides. I took a snow machine tour at Chena Sizzling Springs however we went a bit too sluggish for my liking. Fortunately, I used to be the final individual on our single file tour, so I simply waited till there was a wholesome distance between me and the subsequent snowmobile so I may gun my engine. I noticed numerous snowmachines racing up and down the frozen Chena River that snakes by city.
The quiet solitude and pure great thing about Fairbanks will shine by when you get out on the snowshoe trails. In case you are staying at an Airbnb or a trip rental, there could also be snowshoes you may borrow, or head over to the native REI to lease a pair. I liked my morning snowshoe in Coldfoot up above the Arctic Circle with the gentle gentle, the snow sparkles, and the northern quiet.
Museum of the North – College of Alaska
The Museum of the North situated on the College of Alaska Fairbanks campus is an artwork museum, pure historical past museum, and cultural museum. This mixture of artifacts and specimens collected on public lands in Alaska makes it a pacesetter in pure and cultural historical past analysis within the state. I used to be impressed by the third-floor artwork gallery that includes a wide selection of Native Alaskan up to date and historic artwork items.
World Ice Artwork Championships
The World Ice Artwork Championships happen in Fairbanks every winter from mid-February by the top of March. Yearly, ice sculptors from world wide compete and it’s fairly wonderful to see all the large ice sculptures!
Fountainhead Vintage Auto Museum
Over 95 pre-World Battle II vintage race automobiles, horseless carriages, a snowmachine, and different pleasant automotive treasures may be discovered on the Fountainhead Vintage Auto Museum. Paired with most of the automobiles is what the museum boasts as essentially the most intensive classic trend assortment within the Pacific Northwest. The mix of classic clothes and automobiles makes it fairly simple to think about what life was like through the period of every automobile.
Finest Locations to Eat in Fairbanks
Fairbanks has a stunning quantity of nice eating places to select from. Listed below are some high locations to eat:
- Pike’s Touchdown: the restaurant related to the lodge the place I stayed in Fairbanks. Chef Jeffery Brooks whips up basic American meals with an Alaskan twist. One of the best issues I discovered on the menu had been the Halibut Fish and Chips and the reindeer sausage.
- Lemongrass: Do you know that Fairbanks boasts 27 Thai eating places? That’s loads of curry for 37,000 individuals! The primary Thai restaurant opened in 1987 and the chef/proprietor educated his workers who then opened their very own locations. Lemongrass is an area favourite.
- The Pump Home: examine this out if you need the complete Alaska eating expertise! This is likely one of the solely few superb eating establishments in Fairbanks, so be sure to snag a reservation nicely prematurely.
- Soba Genuine Moldovan Delicacies: hardy meals with large parts is the speciality at this genuine Slavic eatery situated in downtown Fairbanks.
- The Crepery: Candy and savory crepes are filled with recent elements which may be arduous to return by within the Far North.
- Silver Gulch Brewing: The pub fare at Silver Gulch options native Alaskan elements together with standout pizzas, burgers and naturally – wonderful beer.
Are you planning a visit to Fairbanks, Alaska in winter? What actions are you trying ahead to most? Go away us a remark under!