I was lucky enough to do a trip to Fairbanks with hopes of seeing the aurora. With my friend Joel I flew from Vancouver to Fairbanks where we got to see the magical Northern lights, visited a Reindeer branch, relaxed in the Chena Hot Springs and experienced many more amazing things. This was an absolute magical trip and I have summarized our highlights for you in this Fairbanks travel guide.
Alaska is a land of scenic superlatives. Here you will find endless, pristine wilderness with 16 of the US’s highest peaks, including the highest of all, Mount McKinley. Alaska is also home to an estimated 100.000 glaciers and the US’s largest national parks. While winter is brutal here, you shouldn’t shy away from the colder months – it’s the best time to see the Northern lights! So, if this magical experience is on your bucket list, and you love the outdoors and adventure, Alaska is the place to be. I am already planning more trips back and browsing Alaska travel guides for inspiration.
Dress for the Weather
In Alaska temperatures can fall below -50 °F! Do you know the saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”? Well let me tell you, even though at times I struggled with the cold myself when we went in early March, I definitely felt the benefit of having warm clothes. Wrapping up is absolutely essential; feeling like your body’s about to freeze the whole time might very well ruin your trip, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?
My Trip to Fairbanks
When you take a trip to Alaska you will most certainly end up visiting Fairbanks. The city is at the nexus of some truly epic routes – north to the Arctic, east to Canada and south to Denali. Even though you will feel as if you’re in the middle of nowhere, boredom doesn’t exist here, there’s way too much to do! From dog mushing to the stunning Northern lights and its extremes of light, dark, warmth and cold, read on to find out more about the experience of your lifetime! My Fairbanks travel guides got you covered, I promise. Just remember to cover up with a few more layers.
Running Reindeer Ranch
If you want to make some furry friends on your trip to Fairbanks, the Running Reindeer Ranch is the perfect place to stay. They offer guided tours of the boreal forest with reindeer, which is definitely something to experience on your trip. Also, as the wild deer are so used to humans, you can even walk and observe them up close and personal! You can also stay at the Reindeer house which is a special Alaskan lodging opportunity. Here you can enjoy your morning coffee while gazing out at the Alaskan Range, surrounded by reindeer!
Reindeer Yoga Class
If you can’t get enough of your new furry besties, you can even do more activities like a reindeer yoga class. How cool is that?! I absolutely loved spending time with the cute reindeer and was even able to stroke one of them (check my Vlog to see that).
Chena Hot Springs
You want to relax? Go to the Chena Hot Springs which are located 1.5 hours east of Fairbanks. The place is renowned for its hot springs and private resort which is heated by geothermal energy. You will find everything you need in the resort – hotel rooms, a campground, a dining hall and even an airstrip for cargo and flightseeing tours. Every Fairbanks travel guide needs to include a stop at Chena Hot Springs.
The Outdoor Rock Lake
The main attraction is the gorgeous outdoor Rock Lake, an open-air pool filled with steamy natural mineral water heated by the earth. Can you imagine anything better than hopping into the hot water after a beautiful but freezing cold day outside? Me neither. Surrounded by snow-covered boulders, the lake is also the perfect place to relax under the aurora borealis. Joel and I went to Chena Hot Springs in the evening and I would actually suggest going at night time, it was great!
More To Do in Fairbanks
Although one of the main reasons visitors come to Fairbanks is to see the midnight sun and the Aurora Borealis, Fairbanks has so many more amazing things you can do! If you have a bit more time to spare, definitely venture into the city. It has everything you could ask for, with plenty of places to eat and drink and things to do. Wondering what else to do? My Fairbanks travel guide has your back!
Go For a Hike
The surroundings of the area are absolutely beautiful, which makes Fairbanks an unforgettable visit. The Angel Rocks Hiking Trail is one of the most popular trails in the Interior of Alaska. It’s a fantastic hike which takes you up to a beautiful panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes. This trail is around 3.5 miles in a loop and only 55 miles east of Fairbanks. So, put on your hiking boots and off you go!
Do a Brewing Company Tour
This is one for the beer lovers! If you like lager and ale, you will love this brewery tour in the heart of the city. You will learn everything about the brewing process and will have the opportunity to try lots of different types of beers. I’m sure Jowl would have loved that – he’ll be using this as an excuse to go back I’m sure!
Visit the Aurora Ice Museum
In the Aurora Ice Museum at Chena Hot Springs you can explore ice sculptures and see a sculpting demonstration. It is a super cool place to visit and definitely worth the great pictures you can take here. Also, who can say that they’ve been to a museum with temperatures of -24 degrees?! Really cool! (literally).
My Trip to Alaska Vlog
The Borealis Basecamp
We stayed at the Borealis Basecamp and it was the most amazing place just outside of Fairbanks. I definitely suggest you look into staying at the Borealis Basecamp if you are planning a trip to Fairbanks. It is set on nearly 100 acres of boreal forest and offers the ideal location for Northern lights viewing. You stay in an adorable clear-roofed igloo that makes for the perfect view of the lights dancing above. You can even view them from the comfort of your own bed! The heated rooms at the basecamp are super cosy with each dome having one or two beds, a bathroom and a fridge. I really enjoyed my stay at the Borealis Basecamp.
How To Find The Aurora Borealis
To give you the best possible experience, I have put together another list within this Fairbanks travel guide, along with some helpful tips I’ve collected. One thing beforehand: If you plan to see the Aurora at its best, don’t plan on sleeping as they just get better throughout the night! Make sure not to fall sleep and miss them!
Remember to bring some essentials: a good camera to capture this amazing experience, warm clothes, and a bit of patience as you might need to wait awhile until you get to see the magical lights. It’s also worth to pay attention to Soft Serve News, the Aurora tracking website. Chasing the aurora in Fairbanks was such an amazing experience.
This was one of my favourite activities during our trip to Fairbanks! I had been mushing before but this time it was even better. Our guide was absolutely lovely, and we had the best dogs. They were so cute! Our tour lasted about 30 minutes, so again – remember to wear warm clothes and a good jacket!
I was actually a bit scared of crashing because I had never been on a snowmobile before but this was so much fun! Rushing through the snow feels like the ultimate freedom and our guide took us through some really awesome trails. This an absolute must-do on your trip to Fairbanks!
Meals at the Basecamp
If you love food as much as I do, this is an important one! Our meals were served in another dome onsite and every one was delicious and much needed after our long day of activities. My personal faves were the soups (especially great for warming up!) and ribs! DELISH!
Our trip to Fairbanks was magical! Even though chasing the Aurora was far from easy it was absolutely worth it, and I was so glad to be witnessing the Northern lights. I would tell everyone to put this on your bucket list, you will love it! Besides of seeing the Aurora, there’s so much more stuff to do for all the nature lovers and adventurous types among you. Just remember to keep warm and your time there will be a wrap! Enjoy your trip to Fairbanks!
Bella Bucchiotti is a storyteller, food lover, dog mom and adventure seeker living on the Pacific coast. She shares her passion for food, dogs, fitness, adventures, travel and philanthropy, in hopes of encouraging followers to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places and stand for a cause. Bella lives with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease.