Northern Lights Travel

5 Northern Lights Travel Tips

We love trading travel tips with fellow adventurers. In “olden times,” (a.k.a. 15 years ago) these tips were usually exclusive to word of mouth or travel guides, but now a wealth of information is online. compiles travel information for that very reason. Everything from packing tips to travel advisories can be found here, and they recently featured the Northern Lights Adventure by Gondwana Ecotours! Writer Jamie Moore compiled a list of Night Activities for Adventurers that helps people “…experience things the rest of the sleeping world never sees.”

Though Gondwana hand selects your accommodations, transportation and activities on our tours, we love it when travelers come prepared.

Northern Lights Travel

Here are 5 Northern Lights travel tips for visiting Fairbanks, Alaska:

Prepare for your Fairbanks, Alaska Northern Lights adventure by: planning around aurora activity, packing for Alaska’s climate, learning aurora photography, gearing up for outdoor activities, and familiarizing yourself with Fairbanks and its prime aurora viewing spots. Prepare for your Fairbanks, Alaska Northern Lights adventure by planning around aurora activity, packing for Alaska’s climate, learning aurora photography, gearing up for outdoor activities, and familiarizing yourself with Fairbanks and its prime aurora viewing spots. To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, check the latest aurora forecasts and weather reports. Bring plenty of warm clothing, including insulated jackets, thermal layers, and weatherproof gloves, to keep comfortable in Alaska’s cold winter nights. Lastly, joining a guided aurora tour can be invaluable, providing you with insider knowledge and easy access to top viewing sites for a more enriching experience.

1) Learn About Aurora Activity:

First, a warning: like all natural wonders, seeing the aurora is not guaranteed, but it is very likely if you play your cards right! Going during the right time of year and learning about solar activity, and getting optimal viewing conditions is the best way to increase your chances.

The best time to visit Fairbanks to view the Northern Lights is from late August through April when the nights are longest. Keep an eye on aurora forecasts to gauge the likelihood of activity on any given night. Websites like the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks offer aurora predictions, and dedicated smartphone apps can help you track real-time solar data. It’s also important to choose a viewing spot with minimal light pollution, so heading outside the city or to a designated aurora-viewing location can be key. With a bit of preparation and patience, you can significantly boost your chances of seeing the aurora borealis in all its glory.

Top 5 Northern Lights Viewing Tips in Fairbanks

  1. Choose the Right Time of Year: The optimal time to see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks is between late August and early April. During this period, the nights are longest, providing more opportunities for aurora sightings.
  2. Find a Dark Location: Light pollution can diminish the intensity of the aurora borealis, so it’s crucial to find a viewing spot away from city lights. Popular locations near Fairbanks include the Chena Hot Springs, Creamer’s Field, and Murphy Dome, all of which offer clear views of the night sky.
  3. Monitor Aurora Forecasts: To maximize your chances of seeing the aurora, keep track of aurora predictions. The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks provides daily forecasts, and several mobile apps can alert you to solar activity and geomagnetic storms that signal heightened aurora potential.
  4. Dress Warmly and Comfortably: Fairbanks’ winter temperatures can be extremely cold, especially at night. Wear multiple layers, including thermal undergarments, insulated jackets, gloves, and hats, to stay warm during long hours of aurora watching. It’s also a good idea to bring hot drinks or warm snacks to keep your energy up.
  5. Bring a Camera and Learn Aurora Photography: Capturing the Northern Lights on camera can be a rewarding experience, but it requires some skill and the right equipment. Use a tripod for stability, set your camera to a long exposure, and practice with different settings to get the best shots. Don’t forget to charge your batteries and bring extra memory cards for a night of photography.

2) Northern Lights Packing List:

Due to the unique weather conditions in Alaska, packing requires quite a bit of planning. We’ve written about packing tips for the our Northern Lights Adventure and cold weather accessories you may need to kick start your planning. Once you book a trip, you’ll receive a complete packing list and information about renting heavy-duty outerwear.

Once you receive the packing list, it’s crucial to pay special attention to the items listed to ensure you stay warm and comfortable throughout your Northern Lights adventure. In addition to heavy-duty outerwear, don’t forget to pack insulated boots, thermal layers, gloves, hats, and scarves to protect yourself from the extreme cold. It’s also a good idea to bring along a sturdy backpack to carry essentials like extra clothing, snacks, and a thermos for hot drinks during your excursions. Remember, being well-prepared will allow you to fully enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of the Aurora Borealis in comfort and style.

3) Photographing the Aurora:

This brilliant display of lights is stunning, yet difficult to capture on camera. Thankfully with Gondwana, “…your guides are also professional photographers who will help you capture the perfect image.” Read Gondwana’s tips for photographing the aurora borealis.

Capturing the elusive beauty of the aurora borealis requires not only the right equipment but also a deep understanding of the natural phenomenon. Gondwana’s expert photographers not only provide technical guidance but also share their knowledge about the aurora’s behavior, ensuring that every guest has the opportunity to take home breathtaking images. From adjusting camera settings to choosing the best vantage point, their tips offer valuable insights that elevate the photography experience and create lasting memories of this mesmerizing light show. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a beginner, with Gondwana’s guidance, you’ll be able to capture the ethereal dance of the northern lights like never before.

4) Prepare to Hike:

hike harding icefield trail alaskaAlaska’s wild terrain is a far cry from city life. Being outdoors is a way of life, and our daytime activities are no exception. “While you’re waiting for nightfall you’ll go dogsledding, take reindeer walks, learn to curl, and soak in snow-rimmed geothermal hot springs.” While all of our activities are optional, it helps to be confident walking in snowy, cold terrain. To prepare, take long walks while breaking in your cold weather footwear!

5) Learn About Fairbanks, Alaska:

Alaska’s largest interior city is conveniently situated under the auroral oval. It also has consistently clear skies, which increases your chance of seeing the aurora. We spend most nights outside of town at A Taste of Alaska lodge, where a secluded landscape provides optimal viewing conditions.

From the lodge, you can witness the breathtaking phenomenon of the northern lights painting the night sky with vibrant colors. The surreal dance of light against the backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness creates a magical atmosphere that is truly unforgettable. As you marvel at the beauty of the aurora borealis, you can also immerse yourself in the peace and serenity of the remote surroundings. The experience of seeing the aurora in Fairbanks is not just about witnessing a natural wonder, but also about connecting with the raw and untamed spirit of the Last Frontier.

Next Steps… Pick A Destination To See The Northern Lights!

For a successful Northern Lights adventure, prepare by understanding aurora activity, packing appropriately for the climate, learning aurora photography techniques, gearing up for outdoor activities, and familiarizing yourself with prime viewing spots in places like Fairbanks.

Read more on our Northern Lights Ecotour! To experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the aurora while minimizing your environmental impact. These eco-conscious tours offer immersive experiences in sustainable accommodations and provide opportunities to learn about the delicate ecosystems of the Arctic regions.

see the northern lights in alaska fairbanks

Explore Topics