The Great Escape

February 19, 2021

Not only are we the Last Frontier, we may be unarguably the last great escape.
Think about it; Alaska is the epitome of the great outdoors. Wild, unexplored open spaces. Endless miles of wilderness, untold rivers and streams, glaciers, mountains, and forests. Even the highways wind through hundreds of miles with often nary a passing car or two.
In a socially distanced world, where else would one go?
This time of year, we enjoy rugged dog sled races, spectacular aurora viewing, and beautiful ice carving.
You can experience dog mushing in a variety of ways. There are local individuals that frequent the Dog Musher’s Field on Farmer’s Loop Road who may be able to offer you a ride in one of their sleds. Alaskans are notorious for their friendliness and even if you choose to just watch the fun and activity, you will learn plenty.

Yukon Quest dogs

Dogs at the Yukon Quest


Another way to take part in dog mushing is to come for some of the bigger events—for example, the Yukon Quest or Iditarod are two of the most popular. Many people “follow” the team of their choice along parts of the trail by road systems so they can cheer them on. Plan your visit during these times. You can check with http://www.explorefairbanks.com for more specific information.
Yet another option is to book a tour to one of the local sled dog venues; there are many to choose from and you can again, check out the visitor’s center’s website to select a business that specializes in taking you to the great outdoors for the ride of your life.

Ice sculpture

Ice carving


If dogs are not your thing, the Ice Alaska International Ice Carving Competition just began this week. The ice park is at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds, halfway between the downtown area and the University westside. Some people choose to come early and watch the making of the sculptures; others wait so they can enjoy the finished product of approximately 50 different ice carvings. Oh, and don’t forget to bring the family; there are ice slides, skating rinks, and great photo ops for everyone.

Aurora over Ballaine Lake

Aurora over Ballaine Lake


For many people from around the world, viewing the Northern Lights is on their bucket list. This time of year seems to be accommodating due to a little warmer weather, as well as the above mentioned options for daytime activity. Clear skies, higher aurora Kp levels (check out http://www.gi.alaska.edu/monitors/aurora-forecast for specific information) and low light interference make for great aurora viewing. If you choose not to ventures to hills, there are many “aurora chasers” who delight in seeking great viewing opportunities.
Go ahead and treat yourself to explore our Great Land.


Plan that Trip North (Part 1)

January 21, 2016

northern lights above roof tops

circles of light

What should you know about traveling to Fairbanks in the winter months?

Believe it or not, March has become one of the busiest months in the year.  People from all around the world come to enjoy a wide variety of specialty winter activities:  our international ice carving competition, the northern lights, and several dog mushing competitions.

ice sculpture

Ice art competition

But you say how can I be warm then?  Not to worry.  While it seems that you might freeze in the winter months, most people come with a typical winter coat and prepare to dress with layers–long underwear, a warm long-sleeved shirt, a sweater or fleece layer and then the coat.  Similar guidelines follow for the lower body; long underwear, pants, and perhaps snow pants.  Warm boots are a good idea, particularly if you plan to stay outside and walk around the ice park, or wander outside and wait for the aurora to appear.

What about getting around?  We always recommend renting a car, because while Fairbanks is small, you will find you really won’t be able to walk around to visit the places you want to go or restaurants where you want to eat. Road conditions, generally speaking, are no worse than other places that get snow, and frankly, they may seem quite a bit better due to staying frozen or even showing bare pavement.  There is a public bus system that you may find helpful if you choose to not rent a vehicle.

What’s open then, you ask.  Lots!  You will want to visit the Morris Thompson Cultural Center, as well as the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  We have an amazing amount of talent in Fairbanks, which results in plenty of options for theatrical and music productions, and art displays.  Consider heading to one of the local coffee shops where you’ll find a wide array of local talent, happy to entertain you in just about any genre you could imagine.    Special events abound: dog sled races, concerts, downhill and cross country skiing.

What are you waiting for?  Time to get started on planning your visit–summer or winter!

 

 


March Moose and Other Wild Things

March 12, 2015

Now that the trails are filled with Iditarod mushers on the way to Nome, and the Great North American is just around the corner, Alaskans reach with gusto to enjoy the final stretch of winter.

sled dogs

Sled dogs anxious to run

With all the great races in March, there are additional attractions on the more leisurely side. In this case, the occasional meandering moose that wander through the neighborhood, or even stop on the street to munch on branches.

Backyard moose

Backyard moose

How about great sunrises and sunsets?

Crisp and clear sunrise

Crystal clear sunrise

Better yet, many visitors set their sights on the northern lights.

Aurora Glow

Northern lights above the arches

Whichever kind of activity you choose this month, they are all here in our backyard, waiting for your visit.

And while it may be cold right now, we offer a warm welcome to you as you come to enjoy our wild, and not so wild attractions.