Northern highlights

Winter takes centre stage for five full months in Fairbanks, Alaska, and offers a plethora of extraordinary things to do.

Photography by Explore Fairbanks

25 November 2021


Mush a team of huskies? Check.

Snowshoe through a winter wonderland? Check.

Scan the skies for the aurora? Check. The list goes on.

At 65 degrees north latitude, Fairbanks is renowned for the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, the midnight sun, and sunsets and sunrises that last forever.

Basecamp to Denali National Park and Preserve, the Interior and the Arctic – Fairbanks is the Golden Heart of Alaska.

Home to just over 100,000 hearty souls, the Fairbanks region is the second-largest population centre in Alaska.

Fairbanks is like a trip inside a snow globe, so finding spectacular outdoor winter experiences is as easy as one, two, three.

Here are the Top 10 as nominated by the travel experts at Explore Fairbanks.


Chase the aurora borealis

Fairbanks is one of the best places on the planet to view the northern lights and this awe-inspiring activity tops everyone’s to-do list. Witness the magic and knock northern lights viewing off your bucket list. Be spirited away by the captivating light of the aurora borealis while you partake in a other spectacular winter activities.


Mingle with reindeer

Fairbanks has plenty of ways to engage with Saint Nick’s furry friends including walking with these majestic critters through the boreal forest or seeing them in various locations near Fairbanks. You can even pay to visit them in nearby North Pole where the spirit of Christmas lives year-round.


Fish a frozen lake

Drill down into clear lake ice, which can be up to four feet thick, craft the hole, drop your line, and presto! It’s dinnertime! Your fishing guide will help you catch chinook or coho salmon, arctic char, or rainbow trout. Some outfitters will even cook your freshly caught fish for you in a warm and comfortable ice hut on the frozen lake.


Go inside a glacier

Yes, you heard that right…go inside a glacier. The Castner Glacier to be specific. Just a 2.5-hour pristine ride from Fairbanks, this amazing glacier cave will blow your mind. It does require a short hike \ and a modicum of common sense … but the bragging rights are off the charts.

Snowmobile into the wild

Riding a snowmobile, or “snowmachine” as it is most often referred to in Alaska, is one of the easiest ways to get into the spectacular snowy wilds surrounding Fairbanks. Get a local guide to outfit you, show you the ropes and experience the full-throttle rush for yourself.


Watch ice sculptures emerge

In Fairbanks, ice art is not only remarkable but commonplace during winter months with sculptures found all around town. Visitors can watch incredible artworks emerge from huge blocks of ice as sculptors work with chain saws and specialised ice carving tools. Ice art peaks in February and March with two large ice events that include giant ice sculptures, ice mazes, ice slides and much more.


Traverse the snow

Get off the beaten path and view amazing winter vistas with an invigorating jaunt via snowshoes. Or hit the miles and miles of world-class trails on a pair of cross-country skis.

Take in the pristine wilderness and embrace the winter days, when the striking silver-blue sky is often embellished with alpen-glow sunsets and sunrises, sundogs, or sparkling snowflakes.


Soak in a natural hot spring

Have a rejuvenating soak in a natural outdoor hot spring at the end of an adventure-filled day. At Chena Hot Springs Resort, you can relish the crisp winter air and the swirling northern lights above while your hair freezes in wild and wonderful ways. Let the healing, mineral-rich spring water relax your body and warm your soul.


Take a roadtrip to the Arctic Circle or Denali National Park

The Arctic Circle and Denali National Park are two iconic destinations easily accessible from Fairbanks. The Arctic Circle is 195 miles (315 kilometres) north of Fairbanks and Denali is 120 miles (193 kilometres) to the south. Both of these majestic places are reached via inspirational drives through extraordinary winter landscapes.


Mush a team of huskies

Alaska’s sled dogs will champion the trail and win your heart … and getting into the backcountry by accessing Alaska’s state sport – dog mushing – has never been easier. You can book a 30-minute jaunt, a half-day mushing school or a legendary journey with these four-legged athletes. Dog mushing is an exhilarating and soulful way to connect to the area’s pristine natural world.

Imagine yourself here and use this top ten list to plan an unforgettable winter expedition to our dazzling land of ice and snow.



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