Murphy Dome

There are so many things to love about Fairbanks, Alaska. From our vibrant city lifestyle with immediate access to vast, incomparable natural beauty to the rich, spirited community of people. However, if you're visiting Fairbanks, you might be tempted to venture beyond the city limits to explore the surrounding landscape. One ideal spot for this is Murphy Dome.

What to Expect

Murphy Dome offers some of the most remarkable views of northern lights in the state and incredible stargazing opportunities owing to its lack of light pollution. As the highest point in the Fairbanks area, visitors can appreciate vast landscapes that stretch as far as the eye can see. From green, rolling hills in the summer to white, snow-blanketed vistas in the winter, the area serves as a prime gateway to many of the state's natural wonders. 

Murphy Dome was originally the site of one of Alaska’s most important Air Force stations, guarding the continental United States from military aircraft that might pose a threat. Nowadays, only a small outpost remains, leaving the area free to be enjoyed by visitors and locals who come to see what our wild state offers.

During the day, the area is popular with ATV riders, off-roaders, and hikers. The area’s untouched natural beauty provides escapes for all levels of ability. Many of the most beautiful areas are inaccessible by car, offering an unparalleled opportunity to explore.

Exploring Murphy Dome

At night, the action really begins. During the Aurora Season, Murphy Dome is an excellent spot to catch the aurora borealis due to its high vantage point and the clear, open landscape surrounding it. The unobstructed views have been an attraction for Fairbanksans and vacationers alike for decades. When the season is right and the cloud cover is minimal, the northern lights can be seen stretching magnificently across the night sky.

Away from winter’s thick blanket of snow, spring and summer see Murphy Dome transform. The verdant greens attract a wide range of flora and fauna. As well as the varied wildflowers, expect to see moose, beavers, ermine, foxes, and birds such as the northern wheatear, surfbird, willow, and rock ptarmigan. Bears are also common in the area, which can be a fantastic sight from afar.

Summer also brings the midnight sun. Because of its high northern latitude, Murphy Dome (like all of the Fairbanks area) enjoys 24-hour sunshine for 70 straight days from May 17 to July 27. Visitors can open their curtains in the middle of the night and see blue skies and bright sun. For Fairbanksans, the midnight sun provides a yearly relief from the long, darker winters and energizes people, animals, and plants. 

To get to Murphy Dome, follow the Parks Highway south from Fairbanks towards Denali National Park. After half a mile, turn right onto Sheep Creek Rd, which you’ll follow for five miles before turning left on Murphy Dome Road. Your destination is about 15.5 miles of paved road and dirt track later. When you see the wind turbine and radar dome, you’ll know you’ve arrived. If driving to Murphy Dome in the winter, an all-wheel or 4-wheel drive vehicle is recommended.

Two men watching sunset on the horizon with boulders in foreground in