Fairbanks, Alaska and the Northern Lights

Fairbanks, Alaska and the Northern Lights

In March 2016 I made a trip to Fairbanks, Alaska. Why you might wonder? Well Fairbanks and the surrounding region provide the best opportunity to view the northern lights in the United States. If you stay in Fairbanks for at least 3 days between September and March, the odds are 80%. I decided to go in March because it is the warmest month that the northern lights are visible. It was still 14 degrees outside but on the plus side there was no wind which made a noticeable difference. When I wasn't searching for the northern lights or staying warm inside, I explored some of the sights in and around town. Below are the highlights from my visit.

Fairbanks is located in the interior of Alaska, just south of the Arctic Circle
Fairbanks is located in the interior of Alaska, just south of the Arctic Circle

Northern Lights

The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are solar flares that are generally only visible from the most northern places on earth. It is such a spectacular sight that words, or even pictures, cannot do justice.

World Ice Art Championships

Fairbanks is host every March to the World Ice Art Championships, the largest ice sculpting competition in the world. You are able to walk among the completed sculptures as well as those still in progress.

Denali National Park

Denali National Park, located 2 hours from Fairbanks, protects over 6 million acres of Alaskan wilderness. The centerpiece of the park is the mountain of the same name (previously known as Mount McKinley), which is the tallest mountain in North America. Unfortunately for me the park was covered in fog so I was unable to see much. On a plus, the scenery on the drive down was breathtaking.

If you look closely you can see a sled dog (under the care of the National Park Service) napping

North Pole, Alaska

North Pole is small town 15 minutes south of Fairbanks that has holiday decorations up all year long. The Santa Clause House, pictured below, sells Christmas ornaments and gifts.

Other Sights in and Nearby Fairbanks

Chena River
Moose Antler Arch
Golden Heart Plaza
Sign marking "The Official End of the Alaska Highway"
3133 miles home (to San Francisco)
Dog Mushers getting ready for practice
Trans-Alaska Pipeline
Pioneer Park
Restored buildings from the gold rush era in Fairbanks (in Pioneer Park)
Pioneer Air Museum (at Pioneer Park)
Northernmost Denny's in the world
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