When many people think of seeing the Aurora Borealis they also envision frigid locations – thinking that being cold and seeing the Northern Lights go hand in hand. The good news is, you don’t have to always have winter weather. In Fairbanks, Alaska there are some amazing spots to take in the show, without needing snow.
Fairbanks, Alaska, boasts some of best Aurora Borealis viewing opportunities in the world because it’s located directly underneath the “Auroral Oval.” Add in a good number of clear nights, and you’ve got a viewing season that runs from August 21 to April 21. All of the photos in this post were taken in early September.
Borealis Basecamp is located about a 45-minute drive from downtown Fairbanks; its remote location makes it ideal for viewing the Northern Lights. Thanks to these shiny white domes, you can even watch from bed. Truth be told, I couldn’t stay inside.
When the lights erupted the night I was there, I went running out on to the deck barefoot. But for those who can contain themselves and stay inside, in addition to a king bed, each dome has a full bathroom, and a small kitchenette. The space stays nice and cozy thanks to a good heater. Even though there was no snow of the ground, nights can get chilly, especially when you’re constantly popping outside, searching the night skies anywhere from 11pm to 2am or 3am in the morning.
A Taste of Alaska Lodge offers its guests a heated yurt to duck into and warm up while you wait, hoping for the lights to make an appearance. This is less than a 5-minute walk from most of the rooms, but if you go back to your room, it’s so easy to go to bed. In situations like this, it becomes a fun social event. I met folks from Australia, and even my hometown while waiting for, and then watching the lights make a brief appearance.
Chena Hot Springs Resort is the furthest outside of Fairbanks, the 60-mile drive takes a bit more than an hour, but moose are known to make an appearance, and as the name implies, the hot springs are waiting. But even in the fall you can get a feel for a more frigid Alaska at the Aurora Ice Museum. There’s sculptures, some rarely used hotel rooms, and a bar with glasses carved from ice. It’s kept a constant 25 degrees.
When the sun sets, the resort offers a coach tour that takes you to a primo viewing spot to take in the lights.
When it comes to the aurora borealis, every night is different. You never know what the sky is going to do. It doesn’t matter where you go. There’s never a sure bet. But stay at least three nights, and keep yourself up at night, and your chances of seeing the aurora jump to 90%, according to the folks at Explore Fairbanks.
Dana’s trip to Fairbanks was hosted by Explore Fairbanks, but as always her thoughts and opinions are her own. All photos by Dana Rebmann.