Why Fairbanks to see the Northern Lights? At 65 degrees north latitude, Fairbanks is within the “aurora oval,” the area where Northern Lights occur most often and are the brightest. The aurora belt in Alaska’s great Interior and Arctic regions is among the most active in the world, so there few other places on earth providing greater chances of seeing the northern lights. The continental climate in Fairbanks offers many more clear nights than coast area. These made Fairbanks become an ideal starting point to observe the aurora in Alaska. The Fairbanks Visitors Bureau says you have an 80 percent chance of seeing them if you stay there for 3 nights.
How to Chase Auroras Borealis
The northern lights are said to be most active from 11pm to 2am, although this can vary slightly depending on exactly where you are and what time of year it is. Midnight-to-2am is the best time to see the northern lights but they may occur anytime from sunset to sunrise. They are visible from late August to early April anywhere from 6pm to 6am. In order to see the Northern Lights, you need a dark, clear night. There are conditions that give you better odds at seeing them. Here is the ‘formula’
+ The more intense the darkness
+ The higher the aurora activity forecast
+ The clearer the sky
= The Higher the chances at sighting auroras
The University of Alaska Geophysical Institute suggested on their website that the Aurora Chasers should travel to a place up on a hill to have the best view of the horizon, since they must make the most of their viewing time and the aurora can occur in any part of the sky.
Catching a good showing of the northern lights take a little bit of effort and luck. There are a lot of things outside of your control. Now days, we have the Aurora Forecast app for iPhone that will predict the aurora activity level. But the fact is, the Northern Lights are unpredictable. Some people have seen beautiful display on a forecast at 0 and nothing at a forecast of 4… No one can guarantee that the Northern Lights will be visible during his trip to Fairbanks. So be ready for anything! Chasing is part of the fun. You can chase them on your own or board one of the many tours.
When to go?
Clear skies are a requirement, so you should try to choose a location and a season that is blessed with the clearest skies. The northern lights occur year-round, however, summer’s constant daylight makes seeing them next to impossible. While there is no guarantee, the aurora is typically can be seen at their most frequent in late August through all winter until early spring towards the end of April , when less daylight leads to darker night skies.
To plan a trip ahead, check the Traveler’s Guide to the Aurora for when will be the best time travel to Fairbanks.
(Click on the images above to view large version-all photos are shared by our guests)
Best places to see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks
While stay in Fairbanks, where to waiting for Aurora? University of Alaska Geophysical Institute recommended the best place to viewing Aurora from Fairbanks should be Cleary Summit. In Fairbanks, there are tons of great places to keep an eye out for the aurora. Of those, only Cleary Summit satisfies all of the criteria for a good viewing location. It is the most popular spots people usually to go for aurora.
Golden Umbrella B&B located in the northeast corner of the city just off the Steese Highway. Cleary Summit is about 18 miles away from Golden Umbrella B&B, it only takes about 25mins drive. If you are lucky enough, you can even enjoy the fun of chasing aurora by driving your car.
The University of Alaska Geophysical Institute recommended best places to viewing Aurora from Fairbanks:
South direction of Fairbanks
- Chena Lakes Recreation Area (20 miles, takes 30mins drive)
West direction of Fairbanks
- Ester and Murphy Domes (15miles-25mile; about 30mins-35 mins drive)
- Some turnouts along the Parks Highways(19miles, 29mins drive)
NorthEast direction of Fairbanks
—Golden Umbrella B&B located in the Northeast corner of Fairbanks, off the Steese Hwy.
- Wickersham Dome(37miles, about 45mins drive along Elliot Hwy)
- Haystack Mountain Road (22.6miles,33mins drive along Elliot Hwy)
- Some turnouts along the Elliot and Steese Hwy ( Golden Umbrella B&B off the Steese Hwy)
- Cleary Summit (~18miles away, about 25 mins drive)
How to see aurora in Fairbanks?
There are some steps you can take to begin the process of acquainting yourself with auroral activity.
- Access the auroral forecast page directly at: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/
- Become acquainted with the aurora and other arctic geophysical phenomena at http://asahi-classroom.gi.alaska.edu/, www.swpc.noaa.gov/ and www.gi.alaska.edu/.
- For great tips on viewing the aurora, and an explanation of Kp, go to www.swpc.noaa.gov/phenomena/aurora.
- For information about photographing the aurora, travel and other subjects of interest to the aurora watcher, visit sites by Jan Curtis climate.gi.alaska.edu/Curtis/curtis.html, Patrick Endres’ blog /how-to-photograph-the-northern-lights-with-a-digital-camera, and Ronn and Marketa Murray www.ronnmurrayphoto.com/.
We put together a couple of predictions and general information for you to determining when Aurora might be visible while you are here in Fairbanks. They are include:
The aurora is unpredictable, and no one’s entirely sure when—or where—it’s going to appear. The aurora is most active late at night or early in the morning, clear skies and darkness are essential to see the northern lights. The brightest aurora display is seen during the new moon…
Right Weather Conditions
If it’s clear and dark enough to see stars, there’s a chance you’ll be able to see the aurora. If there’s even partly cloudy skies? You have a chance, but it needs to be a strong aurora for you to see it. Check out these prediction tools:
Click for weather forecast
(Click for Fairbanks Clear Sky Chat)
Right Time of Day
Start looking about an hour and a half after sunset, but peak auroral activity is between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. solar time. (Solar time is 2.5 hours after clock time during daylight saving time (and 1.5 hours after during standard daylight time. That means the best time for seeing the aurora during Alaska’s winter is 11:30 p.m.–3:30 a.m. with the peak at 1:30 a.m. During Alaska’s spring and fall (September and March), the best time to view the aurora is 12:30 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.
What to Wear?
For a cold Alaska evening you need:
• Top and bottom base layer
• Warm mid-layers
• A wind-proof coat and wind-proof pants.
• A down-filled or insulated parka.
• Warm socks.
• Good Boots.
• Hat, mittens, glove liners and a scarf or neck gaiter.
• Hand and foot warmers
Aurora Viewing Tours
Aurora Borealis Lodge
(907) 389-2812 • Cleary Summit, Fairbanks
View the northern lights in style and comfort! Located 21 miles north of Fairbanks.
(907) 389-2314 • 3215 Skiland Rd, Fairbanks
View the northern lights in a one-of-a-kind setting, from the top of a ski area. Located 30-minute drive from downtown Fairbanks.
Chandalar River Outfitters
(907) 488-8402 • 5804 Chena Hot Springs Rd, Fairbanks
Alaskan Master Guide offering custom tours for hunting, stream, lake & ice fishing, aurora viewing, horseback riding & pack trips, target shooting, snow shoeing,…
The Aurora Chasers by Ronn & Marketa Murray
907-888-6055 • 1236 Chevak Ct, Fairbanks, AK 99701
Witnessing Alaska’s Northern Lights with Alaska’s Northern Lights Specialists.
Aurora Bear – Aurora and Wildlife Photography
(907) 750-7572 • 2640 Himilaya Road, Fairbanks
Learn from skilled & experienced photographers how to take amazing Aurora photos.
Sean Kurdziolek Photography
(253) 254-3230 • 2144 Peede Rd, North Pole
Take your picture under the Aurora or learn to capture your own Aurora images.
(907) 322-5393 • PO Box 10306, Fairbanks
All night aurora viewing & photography at photographer’s private cabin with huge deck.
Alaska Northern Lights Tour
(907) 322-3483 • 895 Graham Ln, Fairbanks
An evening of viewing Aurora 25 miles from town and a Native Culture Show.
Fairbanks Snow Sleighers, LLC
(907) 331-0643 • PO Box 60506, Fairbanks
Guided snowmobile tours, aurora viewing, and hot springs adventures! Offer a variety of snowmobile tours from 2hr to half/full day tours to overnight/multiday…
Boreal Journeys Alaska
(248) 568-8853 • 2240 Railroad Dr, Fairbanks
Start with an evening dogsled ride and end up at the Aurora Cabin where you can spend the rest of the evening enjoying a warm fire, hot drinks, fresh-baked cookies, sled dog snuggles, stories from your guide and, with luck, a wonderful show from the aurora borealis.
1st Alaska Tours
(907) 590-5900 • 2240 Hanson Rd, Fairbanks
1st Alaska Tours is home to the most premier aurora viewing locations in Fairbanks.
Alaska Private Guide Service
(907) 457-8318 • 299 Alvin St, Fairbanks
Fairbanks Alaska snowmobile tours. 1/2 hour- 2 hour rides around town; 4 -8 hour trips/tours in the scenic mountains & multi-day trips. Ice fishing & aurora viewing…
Northern Alaska Tour Company
(907) 474-8600 • PO Box 82991, Fairbanks
Arctic Circle Aurora Overnight Adventures takes guests across the Arctic Circle to Coldfoot, located in the Brooks Mountain Range. Also offer a variety of Arctic Circle Aurora day / night adventures.
Blue Kennels and Dog Sled Trips
(907) 488-3119 • 6885 No Name Ln, Two Rivers
Northern lights Viewing Tours using a Sled Dog Kennel as base camp.
(907) 712-4529 • 3740 Lyle Ave, North Pole
On this full-day adventure starting in Fairbanks, you will cross the Arctic Circle, watch the Northern Lights, and enjoy the expansive landscape of Alaska’s untouched wilderness.
Alaska Safari Sultan Tours
(907) 378-9680 • 45 Trinidad Dr, Fairbanks
Speak Chinese and Japanese.
Alaska Aurora Adventures
(907) 590-3229 • North Pole
Northern lights viewing lodge the highest rated, warmest, friendliest, cleanest bathrooms, camera rentals, snacks & hotel transfers. Arctic Circle, wildlife, sightseeing,…
Chena Hot Springs Resort
(907) 451-8104 • 17600 Chena Hot Springs Rd, Fairbanks
Enjoy a uniquely Alaskan experience by taking a Chena Hot Springs Resort Aurora Viewing Snow Coach Tour. Departing nightly at 10PM from the Activity Center.