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Three Amazing Alaskan Vacations To Choose From!
Chasing The Northern Lights In Alaska’s Far North
Alaska is one of the best places on Earth to see the Northern Lights. These colorful bands of light, also known as the Aurora Borealis, dance across the night sky to entertain Aurora chasers and locals alike. But before you pack your bags and go in search of this stunning light display, it is important to know where and when to see the Aurora Borealis in Alaska.
When Can You See The Aurora Borealis In Alaska?
Travelers from all over the world come to Alaska to see the Northern Lights each year and take advantage of other winter experiences like snowmobiling, dog mushing, skiing, festivals, and sporting events. The best time to see the Northern Lights at the state’s best Aurora Borealis viewing locations is between August and April when less daylight leads to darker night skies. Although this natural phenomenon happens year-round, it’s only dark enough to spot the Northern Lights during Alaska’s Aurora Season.
Four Key Tips For A Guaranteed Northern Lights Sighting
If you’re wondering how to view the Northern Lights and guarantee a sighting during your trip to Alaska, there are five key tips to follow for success!
- Location, location, location – Alaska has many good Aurora Borealis viewing locations to choose from. Just remember to choose a place that has limited light pollution. This means getting away from the city!
- Clear skies – cloud cover or rain will obscure your view of the Northern Lights. Choose a night that is clear with no precipitation if you want to see the light show.
- Check the time of year – if you want to see the Aurora, make sure you travel to Alaska during the Aurora Season. Early spring through early fall is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska
- Be persistent – you may not see the Northern Lights on your first night, so plan at least three night-time outings during your Alaska vacation to guarantee an Aurora sighting.
- Use the Aurora Tracker – many online sites help Aurora hunters track Northern Lights showings, including this one that was developed by the Geophysical Institute at the University of Fairbanks. The tracker can help aspiring Aurora Chasers track the Aurora Activity at locations around Alaska.
Where To See The Northern Lights In Alaska
While the Northern Lights can be seen almost anywhere in Alaska, they are often most visible in the Interior and Arctic regions. Fairbanks is one of the best places to view the Northern Lights in Alaska due to its location, hours of darkness in winter, auroral activity, and the number of tours, activities, and accommodations dedicated to Northern Lights viewing. Plus, it sits directly under the Auroral Oval, which is where most Aurora activity occurs!
First-time visitors to Alaska may wonder how to view the Northern Lights. If you are staying in Fairbanks, there is a whole industry dedicated to making sure tourists know where and when to see the Aurora Borealis, often in some pretty unique ways. Keep reading for a list of our favorite ways to see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks.
- Take a dog sled tour – if you want to experience two quintessential Alaskan activities at the same time, then taking a dog sled ride across the snowy landscape is the perfect adventure for you. Many mushing co-ops and kennels offer dog sled tours to view the Northern Lights. These tours get visitors away from the light pollution of the city and out into the wilderness where they can enjoy the Aurora.
- Visit Murphy Dome - Murphy Dome is a decommissioned Air Force Station 20 miles northwest of Fairbanks and is part of the Alaska Radar System. Because of its elevation (the area sits 2,930 feet above sea level), it is a great place to catch an unobstructed view of the Northern Lights. Reaching the dome is easy and is a great way to see the Aurora without taking a guided tour.
- Sleep under the Northern Lights – for a truly unique experience, reserve a spot at Borealis Basecamp. This unique overnight adventure offers igloo-shaped domes where you can watch the Northern Lights from the comfort of our bed. Other activities, such as hiking, cross-country skiing, and winter bike riding are available to guests.
- Go ice fishing – believe it or not, you can go ice fishing in Alaska at night! Being on the open ice offers one of the best Aurora Borealis viewing locations you can imagine. Guided tours include an afternoon and/or evening in a heated fishing hut, a chance to grill your catch, and the opportunity to see the Northern Lights in the night sky.
- Catch a light show at Chena Hot Springs – located 61 miles from downtown Fairbanks, this incredible resort is part of a 2,000-acre recreational area and is one of the most visited destinations near Fairbanks. Take a dip in the resort’s rejuvenating hot springs at night and view the Aurora while floating in the relaxing waters. You can also take an evening hike on one of the resort’s many trails to get an incredible view of the Northern Lights from the wilderness. Don’t forget to visit the Aurora Ice Museum while you are at the resort, too!
Knowing where and when to see the Aurora Borealis in Alaska is key to a guaranteed Northern Lights sighting. For the DIY adventurer, there are many online resources available to help track the Aurora and plan a nighttime adventure. But for those who like to leave the logistics to others, Fairbanks offers a variety of guided tours to fit every taste and mood. But no matter how you get there, just sit back and enjoy the show once the Aurora appears.