Chasing the Aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska Seeing the aurora has always been on my bucket list. Despite having been to Iceland 6 times I’ve struck out each time. I decided to give Fairbanks a try and monitored the aurora forecast for weeks. There are 2 nights that have a consistently high Kp index (solar activity) with clear skies so off I go!
I landed at 2:40 pm, then drove to Chena Hot Springs Resort 1.5 hours away. The resort is one of the best places for aurora viewing in the Fairbanks area. This time of the year sunrise is at 9:30 am and sunset at 4:30 pm with low temperatures in -20’s. I had halibut & chips and locally grown tomato basil soup for dinner. Then I checked out the hot springs before doing the aurora tour at 9:30 pm.
You take a specialized snow vehicle to go up to Charlie Dome, one of the highest points in the area. At the top, there is a yurt where you stay warm and wait for the action from 10 pm to 2 am. Despite favorable forecasts, the aurora was a no-show. The skies were clear and the stars were out, but not the aurora.
What is there to do besides chasing aurora? The next morning after sunrise I started with a snowmobile adventure through a beautiful frozen landscape. Then I went dog sledding for the first time. These good boys and girls are so excited and playful. I don’t know how they stay warm while I feel frostbitten even with layers of clothing!
Due to its remote location, the resort is off the grid and generates its own electricity through geothermal energy. It also has greenhouses to grow veggies. I took a geothermal tour to see how all this works to provide necessities to survive in this extreme environment. After that, it’s soaking in the hot springs in -15 degree weather, which was the high for that day. At this temperature, the water on your hair freezes instantly for an out-of-this-world look!
I feel like I’m burning thousands of calories just to stay alive in this weather. So I got a juicy ribeye steak for dinner to get ready for the second night. All the forecast sites indicated high probability and it did not disappoint. Seeing the aurora in person is like watching mother nature paint the skies with dancing lights. It’s magical and it’s alive!!
I returned home to Dallas the next day to get back to more normal temperatures. Alaska in the winter is extreme, magical, and much less crowded. If the aurora is on your bucket list I’d highly recommend Fairbanks. Just make sure you dress appropriately for the extreme weather!
The Wandering Pramugari, also known as Steve is a flight attendant who has a love for blogging, travel, adventure, and photography. You won’t see Steve sitting idle unless he is sleeping. Even that doesn’t happen very much. If there is an airport, he is interested in sightseeing, immersing himself in the local culture, and documenting it all from behind the lens. You can learn more about Steve and view his portfolio at http://wanderingpramugari.zenfolio.com Be kind and pick up a photo or two for yourself and share in the beauty of the world as seen from Steve’s point of view.