Fairbanks is Alaska’s the gateway to the Arctic. And there is no better city in Alaska for viewing the aurora borealis. Fairbanks sits under the “Aurora Oval,” a geographic cap over planet’s far north where the northern lights are most visible.
Aurora season began on August 21 and stretches eight months to April 21. During this time, the sun is retreating to the southern horizon, making the skies optimal for viewing the northern lights. Visitors to Fairbanks can use the online Aurora Borealis Tracker to find the best time of day, weather conditions and locations for viewing.
But why confine your stay to the city of Fairbanks when the Arctic Circle is less than 200 driving miles from Fairbanks. A visit to the Arctic – whether or not the northern lights are on display – is an unforgettable experience, easily doable in a day. Visitors to Fairbanks can book a van or motorcoach tour up the Dalton Highway (or a flight in a small plane) to the Arctic. The road is 75 percent gravel, and you shouldn’t expect cell reception – and that’s the reason car rental companies generally won’t provide vehicles for the Dalton Highway trip.
Along the Dalton Highway, you’ll view portions of the famous Alaska Pipeline and stop at outposts along the way. The highway crosses the mighty Yukon River that slices Alaska in half from east to west and explores endless miles of the treeless tundra ecosystem. Another option is a driving tour up and a return scenic flight back to Fairbanks.
Whether an itinerary includes a trip to the Arctic or explorations closer to the city, Fairbanks makes an ideal basecamp with plenty of hotel options, a wide range of dining options, cultural attractions, like the acclaimed Museum of the North, and much more.
In Fairbanks, no visit is complete without stopping at the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center downtown to talk to experts about the region and learn about the attractions that most interest you. And if your visit included a trip to the Arctic, pick up an official Arctic Circle Certificate at the Center.
Find lodging, attractions, tours and more at Explore Fairbanks.