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Start Planning for Aurora Season in Fairbanks

by Eugenia Lazaris

Aug 22, 2023

© Rena Tan | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

The Aurora Borealis, also known as the northern lights, is not just an incredible natural phenomenon holding a coveted spot on most bucket lists, it is also a unique way to plan a vacation family travelers will never forget. Fairbanks, Alaska, is one of the best places to see this impressive phenomenon, and we have compiled a list of things you need to know as you plan your family’s once-in-a-lifetime trip.


The area sits within the Auroreal Oval, an area surrounding the North Pole where the aurora is most active. Fairbanks also enjoys a dry climate, despite getting such cold temperatures, meaning less cloud cover to potentially block the aurora’s visibility.


The city is known as the Land of the Midnight Sun thanks to its nearly 24 hours of daylight during the summer months. But, Aug. 21–April 21, the city is officially in Aurora Season and the Northern Lights can be seen from just about anywhere you have a clear view of the night sky.


Seeing the aurora takes a bit of luck, but in Fairbanks, once the sun goes down and the skies are dark, you have a pretty good chance if you are patient. To improve your chances, Explore Fairbanks, the official tourism site of the city, created a helpful aurora tracker to let you know when your chances are the greatest.


You can view the aurora from just about anywhere, but the less manmade light you have, the better your chances are. Simply drive to a vantage point and get comfy while you watch the night sky. If you want to stay in town to see the phenomenon, Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge offers 2,200 acres of wide-open fields and wooded trails.


You can also take part in an organized aurora viewing tour that takes you to places in the wilderness where your viewing chances are the greatest. Some great options include Greatland Adventures, which offers small group excursions that include photos, hot beverages and an itinerary customized to maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights.


There are also plenty of lodges in and around the city specializing in aurora viewing, like Aurora Borealis Lodge giving guests the perfect way to experience the beautiful colors of the aurora from inside the heated “aurorium,” a specially equipped yurt or cabin heated and perfectly situated for viewing the night sky.


If you are staying in a lodge for aurora season, you don’t have to sit around staring at the night sky. Simply ask the front desk if they have a call service to notify you when the aurora is visible.


The city of Fairbanks offers plenty of assistance with viewing the aurora, including a free guide full of tips on where to spot the aurora and how to get the best photos. To pick one up, be sure to stop by Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center where you can not only get a certificate once you’ve seen the northern lights to commemorate your experience, but you can also learn all about the area, its history and native cultures.



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