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What You Need to Know About Viewing Northern Lights in Alaska

When it comes to seeing the Northern Lights, Alaska and the Yukon are two of the best places in the world to see the Aurora Borealis. This is because they are very far north. So far north that they stretch into the Arctic Circle. However, you don’t need to be north of the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights.

Fairbanks, the second largest city in Alaska, is south of the Arctic Circle but is still one of the best places to view the Aurora in Alaska.

You can view the Northern Lights in Alaska from September to April, however, the darker winter months are best for Aurora viewing.

What makes Alaska a great destination for Aurora hunting?

If you’re wondering if Iceland or Alaska is better for viewing the Northern Lights. The answer is that both offer incredible opportunities. Ideally, you should be north of the 65 degrees latitude on a cloudless night, away from the light pollution of a major city. These criteria are why Alaska and Iceland are often considered the two best places to view the Northern Lights.

For many North American travelers, Alaska is much easier to visit, making it the better choice. There are major airlines that fly to Fairbanks from all over America, including Alaska Airlines, Delta and United.

Alaska’s position close to the “Auroral Oval” is another reason it has a great view of the Northern Lights. The “Auroral Oval” is a huge ring above the Earth’s Geomagnetic North Pole created by the Earth’s magnetic fields. When plasma’s and electrons hit the atmosphere along these magnetic lines, they can produce these bright, amazing color displays. Learn more from NASA

When is the best month to view the Northern Lights in Alaska?

 The Alaska Aurora season in Fairbanks runs from September through April when the Earth is perfectly tilted in relation to the sun so that both its magnetic field and the solar wind are in sync.

But for serious Aurora hunters in Alaska, March is the best time to visit because of the clearer spring skies. Aurora viewing is also enhanced by the Spring Equinox and a new moon, making for a higher chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

It is not possible to see the Aurora Borealis during the summer in Alaska. The long summer days (up to 21 hours of daylight) make it impossible to see any aurora activity.

To see the most up to date Aurora Forecast, visit: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast

What are the best ways to see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks?

 

One of the best things about Aurora hunting in Fairbanks is the fact that you don’t have travel long distances out of the city just to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.  Even from within the city limits, the Aurora is very visible.

Here are some fun ways to get out and enjoy this natural wonder while in Fairbanks:

Tour the Aurora on a snowmobile.

If you like a good adventure while hunting the Aurora Borealis, you can book a snowmobile tour for a nighttime ride to the best spots in Fairbanks to view this show of lights. This is not only a great way to drive around town but it also gives you a taste of traditional Alaskan life where snowmobiles are often used as a regular mode of transportation.

Sleep under the Northern Lights.

For sure, you’ve seen those dreamy photos of people literally sleeping under the Northern Lights. Borealis Basecamp is an accommodation in Fairbanks that offer igloo-shaped domes where you can view the beautiful show of lights right from your bed.

Go ice fishing.

How about getting two amazing experiences in one trip? Aurora ice fishing is an incredible activity where you get to go nighttime ice fishing while the magnificent Aurora Borealis is providing you with some amazing light.

Visit Chena Hot Springs Resort for an exceptional Alaska Aurora Experience

 Chena Hot Springs is part of a 2,000-acre recreational area and one of the most visited destinations near Fairbanks. Not only because of its many rejuvenating hot pools, and activities, but also because it offers some of the best views of the Northern Lights. Located 61 miles from downtown Fairbanks, on the Chena Hot Springs Road.

There are plenty of hiking trails in the Recreation area and near the Resort if you want to take in the incredible Aurora views from the wilderness.  The Aurora Ice Museum is also located at the Chena Hot Springs Resort, and features an ice bar serving mixed drinks, in glasses made of ice. It’s a very “cool” experience.

This private resort is a wonderful place to experience for a day or a few nights. However, It is also possible to enjoy the resort with an affordable day pass for those who only want to have a quick visit.

What are some of the best Northern Lights tours in Fairbanks?

 For those looking to experience the Northern Lights with a tour, there are several excellent options available.

Northern Alaska Tour Company specializes in taking visitors into the Arctic in both the summer and winter seasons. Find out more here.

Salmon Berry Tours also offer Northern Lights excursions for both day trips and longer 6-day tours which includes dog sledding, visits to local museums and a pass to Chena Hot Springs. Visit their site for more info.

Borealis Basecamp offers visitors a very unique lodging option…beautiful clear-roofed igloos for incredible Northern Light viewing from the privacy of your own room. Click here for more info.

Fairbanks is magical in more ways than you can imagine. So if you’re dreaming of the perfect winter vacation that includes a magnificent experience with the Northern Lights, Alaska is just waiting to be explored. What are you waiting for?

Image Arurora Alaska
Alaska is one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights. However, the majority of Alaska's visitors come in the Summer, when the Aurora are not visible. If you can't see the Northern Lights, here are some of the best summer activities to do in Alaska.

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