As the nights grow longer and the temperatures begin to cool, the aurora borealis returns to the skies above Fairbanks, Alaska. While aurora activity occurs each day throughout the year, August ushers in the darkness needed for northern lights viewing. The onset of the Aurora Season, which spans August 21 through April 21, means nine months ahead of spectacular opportunities to see the northern lights. Aurora viewing on its own is a remarkable experience, but what if it could be elevated by combining it with a thrilling or rejuvenating activity? While planning your trip to Fairbanks, explore some of the ways to make a northern lights excursion that much more unforgettable.
1. Photography: Capturing the Curtains of Lights
Many local businesses have skilled photographers and guides who are eager to assist you in setting up your camera to capture photographs of the northern lights. If you’d rather step in front of the camera, a variety of tour operators and aurora businesses will take your picture against the stunning backdrop of the aurora borealis giving you the chance to take home a once-in-a-lifetime keepsake.
2. Ice Fishing: Serenity and Solitude Beneath the Aurora
Connect with a knowledgeable guide to help you drill through the ice that can reach up to four feet in thickness. As you patiently wait for the aurora to appear overhead, drop your line to catch chinook or coho salmon, Arctic char, or rainbow trout. Some outfitters will prepare your freshly caught fish in a warm and comfy hut right on the spot.
3. Dog Mushing: An Aurora Adventure with Furry Companions
The swirling aurora in the night sky serves as the perfect backdrop for taking a quick 30-minute ride in the basket of a dog sled. For the more adventurous, learn to mush your own team on a multi-day excursion into the Alaskan wilderness. Whether you opt for a quick jaunt or embark on an extended adventure, Alaska’s high-energy and adorable sled dogs will steal your heart.
4. Hot Springs: The Ultimate in Relaxation
Easily accessible from Fairbanks, take a dip in a natural hot spring pool while the northern lights dance above you. Imagine yourself floating in the warmth despite the crisp air around you. Enjoy the rejuvenating mineral-rich springs to relax your body and warm your soul at the end of an adventure-filled day.
5. Snowmobiling: Riding the Snowy Trails Under the Aurora
Experience the rush of snowmobiling under the northern lights. Snowmachines – as they are most often called in Alaska – are one of the easiest ways to get into the incredible snowy areas that surround Fairbanks. With the assistance of a knowledgeable guide, you'll receive the necessary equipment, expert guidance, and an invigorating journey through the backcountry, all while the aurora swirls above.
6. Reindeer: A Truly Magical Evening
Envision a truly enchanting evening combining the beauty of the northern lights and the fun, playful energy of reindeer. These whimsical, domesticated cousins of caribou make engaging and entertaining companions to stroll alongside and visit with. Let the magic of the reindeer and aurora borealis forever leave a mark on your heart.
7. Arctic Circle: An Extraordinary Journey
Travel north from Fairbanks to discover a landscape like no other. While it’s not recommended to traverse the Dalton Highway yourself, especially in winter, it’s easy to connect with a guide or tour company to fly or drive you to the Arctic Circle and beyond. Whether you opt for a single-day trip or an unforgettable overnight one, scanning the skies for the aurora above the Arctic Circle certainly is an opportunity not to be overlooked.
Combining aurora viewing with other experiences transforms a simple journey into an extraordinary one. From the adrenaline-pumping adventures of dog mushing and snowmobiling to the serene moments of ice fishing and hot springs, each activity is enhanced by the magic of the northern lights.
Start planning your trip to Fairbanks with the Fairbanks Visitors Guide and Winter Guides available at www.explorefairbanks.com/guide.