Fairbanks, Alaska

Explore once-in-a-lifetime experiences like northern lights. Photo by Amy Johnson Photography.

Year-Round Grandeur
Splendors of both heaven and earth await you in Fairbanks, the “Golden Heart of Alaska”

The Gold Rush glory days may have given Fairbanks the nickname the “Golden Heart of Alaska,” but it could just as easily refer to the warmth of this vibrant river city in the wilds of Interior Alaska—or its celestial attractions.

Whether you come seeking the sheer beauty of a sparkling winter day, the summer’s everlasting sunshine or to scan the skies for the northern lights, Fairbanks is an extraordinary portal into life in the
Far North.

Aurora Season

Want to knock northern lights viewing off your bucket list? Fairbanks is one of the best locations on Earth to see the lights during Aurora Season, which starts August 21 and continues through to April 21. Fairbanks is ideal for northern lights viewing because it is located directly under the “Auroral Oval,” a ring-shaped zone over the Far North where aurora activity is concentrated. Additionally, the region’s distance from coastal areas consistently contributes to clear skies and optimum viewing.

All combined these variables make the Fairbanks region an outstanding destination for aurora viewing. While there’s no absolute guarantee you’ll see the northern lights, the aurora is visible an average of four out of five nights in the Fairbanks area when the sky is clear and dark enough.

Interested in aurora chasing? Guided tours can take you to the ideal vantage point to wait for the northern lights to appear, while the more independent traveler can rent a car and consult the visitors center for prime viewing locations. Or you can arrange to aurora view from a heated cabin, yurt, dome or lodge; on a dog sled adventure, snow cat tour, or a flight above the Arctic Circle. You can even ask your accommodation’s front desk if they offer a wake-up call when the northern lights are out.

During the summer, Fairbanks experiences 70 straight days of 24-hour sunlight. Photo by Frank Stelges/Aurora Bear Photography School. 

Midnight Sun Season

Visitors to Fairbanks during Aurora Season stand an excellent chance of seeing the night sky light up. During Midnight Sun Season, it’s guaranteed.

In Fairbanks, the summer sun shines up to 24 hours a day during the Midnight Sun Season, from April 22 to August 20. In fact, from mid-May through mid-July, Fairbanks experiences 70 straight days of 24-hour sunlight. Coupled with dry days and average temperatures hovering at 70 degrees, that means more summer for Alaskan adventure.

As locals can attest, the extra sunlight charges your batteries; activities that would otherwise seem exhausting at midnight are exhilarating. Go on a nature hike, float down the Chena River or grab late-night dessert on an outdoor deck. Baseball fans can even catch a middle-of-the-night match on the solstice, when the Alaska Goldpanners throw out the first pitch at 10 p.m.

Dash through the snow on a sled pulled by dogs on a mushing tour. Photo by Explore Fairbanks.

Winter Season

In addition to the aurora, winter offers visitors to Fairbanks several attractions that epitomize the Far North.

Throughout the winter, you can check out ice sculpting events and competitions, where artisans carve huge blocks of ice into works of art with chain saws and specialized ice carving tools. In 2020, Fairbanks hosts the World Ice Art Championships, where the world’s top ice carvers will sculpt nearly one-ton cubes of ice in a timed competition.

If you’re looking for something a little more hands-on, realize your dream of dashing through the snow on a sled pulled by a team of dogs on a one-hour, half-day or multi-day mushing tour. Whether riding in the basket or driving your own sled, you’ll appreciate the instinctive power of these amazing animals.

Watch world-class ice carvers in their element. Photo by Explore Fairbanks. 

Year-Round Activities

Regardless of which time of year you visit, Fairbanks exudes a distinct charm borne of the Far North.

Close to town you can shop for authentic Alaska Native and made-in-Alaska gifts, stroll an art gallery, sip a cocktail or craft beer at one of the area’s nine breweries and distilleries, or soak in an outdoor hot spring. As the basecamp for Alaska’s vast Interior and Arctic, from Fairbanks you can also cross the Arctic Circle, journey to Denali National Park, and view the landscapes that make Alaska the Last Frontier.
Whatever you choose, you’ll strike gold here.

For more information about visiting Fairbanks, go to explorefairbanks.com