Aurora viewing

Fairbanks Aurora Viewing Spots!

What Makes a Good Aurora Viewing Spot?

auroranov14When choosing a location for Aurora viewing, you want to keep a few things in mind to ensure that you are getting the best of the displays and staying comfortable in this cold winter environment. Below we will list some important qualities and 3 of our favorite spots.

One crucial aspect to consider when selecting an Aurora viewing location is the level of light pollution in the area. Opting for a spot with minimal artificial light will enhance the visibility and vibrancy of the Northern Lights spectacle. Additionally, it’s essential to check the weather conditions and select a location with clear skies to maximize your chances of witnessing the Aurora Borealis at its best. Ensuring you are adequately prepared with warm clothing, hot beverages, and maybe a cozy blanket will not only keep you comfortable but also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the magic of this natural phenomenon.

No Light Pollution

The best places for Aurora viewing are far from the lights of any city or nearby businesses. The darker the area, the more you will be able to see the Northern Lights colorful displays. Fairbanks offers exceptional aurora viewing locations, providing visitors with great opportunities to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights spectacle. In Fairbanks, there are a number of great lodges outside the city where you can view right on the property. You will want to be at least 15 or 20 miles outside of downtown Fairbanks. Wherever you choose to view from, make sure you stay on well-maintained roads because driving in the Alaskan winter is hazardous and you don’t want to get stuck.

While Fairbanks is undoubtedly a prime location for witnessing the enchanting Northern Lights, there are other hidden gems around the world that offer equally breathtaking aurora viewing experiences. Places like Tromsø in Norway, Abisko National Park in Sweden, and Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park are renowned for their clear skies and vibrant displays of the Aurora Borealis.

These destinations provide a magical backdrop for nature enthusiasts and photographers alike to capture the celestial dance of colors in the night sky. Each location offers a unique experience, blending the beauty of the natural landscape with the awe-inspiring phenomenon of the Northern Lights. Exploring these different spots can add a new dimension to your aurora hunting adventures and create unforgettable memories under the shimmering lights.

Wide Field of Vision

It is important to consider your field of vision when planning Aurora viewing, because you never know in what part of the sky it is going to appear. Sometimes it is only in one part, and other times it stretches across the entire sky. Viewing from high elevation is one way to guarantee you will see the Northern Lights wherever they appear, and it makes for incredible photographs.

For photographers aiming to capture the mesmerizing beauty of the Aurora Borealis, selecting the right camera settings is crucial. Setting a wide aperture, like f/2.8 or lower, allows more light to enter the lens and better captures the vivid colors of the Northern Lights. Additionally, using a longer exposure of around 15-30 seconds can bring out the intricate details and dynamic movement of the auroras in the night sky. Experimenting with different ISO settings to find the balance between capturing enough light and minimizing noise can further enhance the quality of your Aurora photographs.

Staying Warm

If you want to stay out for a long time watching and photographing the Aurora, you will need somewhere warm to retreat in between displays. Many lodges, including our own, have heated tents or “yurts” where guests can hang out and escape the cold for a bit. This also helps to keep your technology and photography gear from freezing up.

4 tips for staying warm while photographing the northern lights in Alaska

  1. Dress in Layers: Alaska’s climate can be harsh, especially at night. Wear thermal base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof outer layer to protect against cold temperatures and wind chill.
  2. Use Hand Warmers: Keep hand warmers in your pockets to maintain dexterity while operating your camera. Cold fingers can make it difficult to adjust settings and capture the perfect shot.
  3. Bring Hot Beverages: Pack a thermos with hot tea, coffee, or cocoa to stay warm from the inside out. Sipping on a warm drink can help maintain body temperature during long periods of outdoor photography.
  4. Utilize Insulated Gear: Invest in insulated camera gear, such as camera covers and lens sleeves, to prevent condensation and maintain optimal performance in cold weather conditions. Additionally, consider using a tripod with insulated legs to avoid transferring cold temperatures to your hands while adjusting your camera setup.

1) Chena Hot Springs

aurora viewingThe Chena Hot Springs Resort is often regarded as the best place to see the aurora in Fairbanks, offering a combination of clear skies, minimal light pollution, and comfortable amenities for an unforgettable Northern Lights experience. There is nothing quite like Aurora viewing from the comfort of a steaming geothermal hot spring. Chena’s outdoor rock pool is filled with healing mineral waters that stay at an average of 106 degrees year round, but it is surrounded by snow. Sometimes the hair on your head will frost over, but your body stays nice and warm. The springs are located 60 miles outside of Fairbanks so there is very low light pollution. From the pool you have a great view of the Northern half of the sky, where most Aurora activity originates from. They also have an indoor viewing area nearby, as well as an airfield where you can get great photos of the Aurora with small planes in the foreground.

Best Places To Stay Where You Could See The Northern Lights in Alaska

Discover the perfect lodging for Northern Lights viewing in Alaska. Experience the aurora from cozy cabins nestled in Fairbanks, or opt for remote wilderness lodges in Denali or the Brooks Range. Unforgettable aurora viewing awaits at these top Alaskan accommodations.

2) A Taste of Alaska Lodge

aurora viewingThis lodge is where we like to stay with guests. Located on top of a hill, you can view the lights from right outside your room, but the best spot for Aurora viewing and photography is just a few meters down the hill. There are plenty of chairs available, as well as a heated yurt with couches and a wood stove where you can escape the cold in between displays. The best part is that when staying there with Gondwana, our guides provide wake up calls when the Aurora appears so you don’t have to stay up all night watching the skies. Once you are up our guides are available to assist you with photography and bring you hot tea or cocoa while you enjoy the light show.
Check Out the Brochure for our Northern Lights Tour!

3) Ester Dome or Murphy Dome

These two spots are far outside of town so there is no light pollution, and you can enjoy 360 degree views of the Aurora so you don’t miss a thing! Ester Dome is about 15 miles outside of town, a 25 minute drive. Make sure you have good snow tires if you are going to drive up there in winter! It stands at over 2,300 feet and is home to hiking trails and plenty of wildlife. Murphy Dome is even higher – at over 2,800 feet it is the highest point close to Fairbanks. Most of it is low vegetation which makes for easy off trail exploration while viewing. The last 200 feet of elevation are actually an Alpine environment, so bring appropriate gear if heading to the summit!

La Oferta Features our Northern Lights Tour!

aurora viewingWe are proud to have been listed by La Oferta in their article “Off Beat Trips Await Adventurous Tourists”. We are listed alongside other off-the-beaten-path trips in Russia, Ethiopia and Wyoming. Author Bob Schulman notes some of our exciting activities like dogsledding, hiking with reindeer and soaking in hot springs. He also recognizes the our unique features like Aurora wake-up calls and professional photography assistance while you watch the Northern Lights. We are so grateful to have been featured on this list of amazing trips!

Discover Fairbanks: Where Every Night Unveils the Mystique of the Northern Lights with Gondwana Ecotours!

For an unforgettable Northern Lights experience in Fairbanks, Alaska, consider Gondwana Ecotours. They offer prime Aurora viewing spots like Chena Hot Springs and A Taste Of Alaska Lodge, ensuring minimal light pollution and warmth amenities. Don’t miss their featured tour in La Oferta’s adventurous trips list!

Read about the solar cycles influence and the intensity and frequency of the Northern Lights in Alaska, with periods of high solar activity enhancing the chances of spectacular auroral displays. During peak solar activity, such as solar maximum, the Northern Lights are more likely to be seen even at lower latitudes, making Alaska an ideal destination for aurora enthusiasts.

Download Our Northern Lights Brochure Here.

trips to the northern lights in alaska

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