Insider Tips for Experiencing Fairbanks Northern Lights


I was shocked that lots of people do not even have Alaska on their radar for Northern Lights journeys! Go do a search and you’ll be flooded with Iceland and Norway, however Alaska is still a little bit of an outlier. And you understand what that indicates? Since it’s not as pricey or congested, it’s the best location to prepare your Northern Lights journey!

A couple of essential things make Fairbanks Alaska among the very best locations for northern lights seeing. I’ve existed 4 times in the winter season and have actually accumulated a few of my finest pointers for experiencing Fairbanks Northern Lights so that you can take advantage of your aurora experience.

northern lights fairbanks alaska
Northern Lights in Fairbanks

Why Fairbanks Alaska is the very best location for a Northern Lights Viewing

Located simply listed below the Arctic Circle, landlocked, and near a global airport, Fairbanks has the best dish for seeing the aurora borealis.

The Aurora Oval and Kp Index

aurora oval

The Northern Lights form an oval shape above the Earth’s geomagnetic poles. Fairbanks occurs to be completely placed under the oval surrounding the North Pole. This indicates that the aurora in Fairbanks is usually seen straight overhead! This special perspective is terrific for aurora photography and is just discovered under the auroral oval.

The Kp index, a procedure of electro-magnetic activity in the environment likewise enters play for aurora watching. A reading of 2 or greater is usually thought about helpful for Northern Lights finding; nevertheless, you can see Northern Lights in Fairbanks even when there is low activity since of its position under the aurora circle.

” You have not seen the aurora till you can look directly and see it overhead. When you see it overhead– you can see just how much structure remains in it. It’s finest to come north under the aurora oval.”

Aurora Physicist Peter Delemere

Weather in Fairbanks

Aurora season is in between August 21-April 21 in the Fairbanks area. And something that is needed to see them is a clear sky. Since it has numerous clear nights because it’s situated in the inland Arctic– a location they call Alaska’s interior, you are in luck in Fairbanks. By the coasts, there’s more humidity, rainfall, and clouds. In Fairbanks, it is a dry environment significance lots of clear skies!

northern lights trip fairbanks
Beautiful clear night skies are plentiful in Fairbanks

” The northern lights are so respected in the Fairbanks area and the Arctic that visitors who remain a minimum of 3 nights and are actively out throughout the late night hours increase their possibility of seeing the aurora to more than 80 percent!”

Explore Fairbanks

Fairbanks Geophysical Institute

The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has actually made a global track record for studying Earth and its physical environments at high latitudes. It includes 7 significant research study systems and numerous research study assistance centers, and it focuses on aurora research study in the world and other worlds.

Anyone can go check out the Geophysical Institute and take a self-guided trip, nevertheless, I went to speak to a physicist focusing on aurora research study, Peter Delamere. Finding out the science behind the aurora in the world and Jupiter was interesting! I discovered what makes the various colors we see and how to find a substorm. His total guidance was to check the northern lights forecasts and be relentless– extremely relentless.

Some of the most intelligent aurora individuals on the planet remain in Fairbanks, another reason it’s an excellent location for a Northern Lights journey!

Visit the Geophysical Institute in Fairbanks: Public trips of the Geophysical Institute are totally free and provided on Wednesdays at 1 p.m. through the summertime. A self-guided trip sales brochure is readily available in the lobby of the Elvey structure. You are welcome to go to the structure and take the self-guided trip Monday through Friday in between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Geophysical Institute Website

The Truth About How We See the Northern Lights

Until I went to Fairbanks Alaska I believed the Northern Lights were all simply buzz. No– I have not signed up with a Flat Earth Society or chose Global Warming is a scam, I simply didn’t understand if I totally thought in them. I had excellent factor to question them.

I had actually ‘seen’ the aurora borealis two times previously– however to my dissatisfaction, it was absolutely nothing like what I had actually seen in videos and images. There was no color (other than for what long direct exposure photography might record), and there was no dancing. Rather what I saw was a gray, cloudy radiant blob. These aurora sightings might’ve been misinterpreted for moon radiance or fog, and I never ever would have even observed them other than individuals informed me it was the aurora.

After my frustrating experiences, I began to believe the Northern Lights were some odd conspiracy by tourist departments and Northern Lights trip business.

I informed Peter Delamere at the Geophysical Institute about my conspiracy theory and he discussed, “When it’s faint your eye does not identify it as green, it looks like a grayish radiance, and it can be a bit frustrating.”

northern lights with the naked eye
What our eyes see …
northern lights viewing
What our electronic cameras can record

I think I simply had misfortune with the aurora strength according to Peter. To see any color in the faint aurora, I needed to do photography to understand it existed since it’s not constantly noticeable to the human eye.

Our eyes utilize 2 various kinds of cells to see light: cones and rods. The cone cells view great information and color however require brilliant light. Rod cells can just see white and black and have bad resolution however stay delicate even in extremely low light. In the evening with no brilliant source of light, we generally just see a monochromatic world. Electronic cameras can reveal us what our eyes can not see. This is why you see pictures with brilliant thumbs-ups.

How to See the Aurora on your Northern Lights Trip

Check the Northern Lights Forecasts

There are a variety of real-time aurora tracker GPS phone apps and sites that will assist anticipate the aurora. I utilized a mix of all of them!
Aurora Borealis Tracker
Live Webcam
Geophysical Institute Aurora Forecast
See where the aurora oval is at any time

northern lights phone app
Tracking the aurora, it’s coming our method!

Take a Northern Lights Tour

You might wish to take a trip, or you might desire the flexibility of leasing a vehicle and going after the aurora on your own. In either case is terrific and I experimented with a couple of various Fairbanks northern lights trips throughout my journey (more on those in the next area!).

Aurora Photo Tours

If your objective is to get an excellent image of the aurora, then I extremely advise registering for an aurora photography workshop the opening night you get here in Fairbanks. This is a pail list product for many individuals and you desire to make sure that you understand what you are doing as the aurora is not a simple thing to picture.

A 40-minute drive from Fairbanks will put you strongly in the interior– an ideal location to see Northern Lights. Simply off the Steese Highway, you’ll discover Aurora Bear Photography Workshops, a little intimate workshop in Frank and Miriam’s off-the-grid home.

Frank uses start and advanced photography classes and if you do not have your own DSLR or mirrorless cam, he leases them together with tripods. You will entrust to some incredible night sky and (ideally) aurora pictures.

Aurora Viewing Tour

These trips generally have huge varieties of individuals with a mix of image addicts and simply individuals who wish to see the aurora. As you may think– these aren’t my jam. I dislike huge trips and coach buses, nevertheless, it works for some individuals and it’s great to understand that Fairbanks uses these kinds of trips to get you out of the city and increase your possibility of seeing the northern lights.

Lodges Offer Northern Lights Viewing Packages

Some hotels provide aurora seeing alternatives where individuals can remain and come up all night in a warm setting like a yurt or lodge however quickly run outdoors and take pleasure in the program when it gets here. We went to Taste of Alaska Lodge simply beyond Fairbanks and they had an ideal setup for seeing. They had a warm-ish yurt where we might remain warm and wait, then run outdoors and take pictures quickly. The log cabin lodge offered a gorgeous foreground in the pictures.

I likewise went to and remained at the remote Black Rapids Lodge It’s south of Fairbanks however often gets gorgeous northern lights sightings. The gorgeous aspect of Black Rapids is that it’s surrounded by the Eastern Alaska Mountain Range, so you can see the Northern Lights over the mountains! {

Fairbanks Aurora

It’s likewise worth keeping in mind that all of the hotels around Fairbanks will likewise provide you an Aurora wake-up call if you register for it.|If you sign up for it,

It’s likewise worth keeping in mind that all of the hotels around Fairbanks will likewise provide you an Aurora wake-up call.} This indicates you do not need to stay up all night waiting, they do all the effort and call you when they are out. — it is tough to see the northern lights in Fairbanks due to the city lights, so the wake-up call is best when you are at hotels in the countryside away from the light contamination.where to find autumn colors in Alaska


Have an Adventure While Viewing the Aurora

A great deal of waiting is included when going after the northern lights, so you might wish to go with an activity while you wait. Thankfully individuals in Fairbanks understand how to host an excellent outside experience! Doing an ultimate Alaska winter season experience while waiting on the lights to appear is an excellent method to optimize your time … and remain warm!

Fairbanks northern lights tours
Here are a couple of examples:

Photo by Last Frontier Mushing Coop

Rent a Car and Go Aurora Chasing Independentlyrent a car You can likewise quickly detailed viewing locations perfect for the independent aurora chaser and go out separately for as long as you ‘d like. Simply guarantee you have a complete gas tank as the automobile will be your warm waiting area in the middle of the night. The Explore Fairbanks site has

total with maps and descriptions of where you can pull over and wait. Bring warm clothing and food and water!

My Favorite Fairbanks Aurora Borealis Tours

If you choose to take a trip, here are 6 of my favorites I have actually done around the Fairbanks location.

1. Aurora Bear– PhotographyAurora Bear Photography Workshop It was 10 PM and we were going to the

As we pulled into the driveway lit by torches it provided the entire location a romantic radiance in the snow. My enjoyment level livened up and my drowsiness decreased. This was a little intimate image workshop in Frank and Miriam’s off-the-grid home.

Aurora over Frank & & Miriam’s dry cabin

Frank and Miriam right away developed into good friends as we talked in their little cabin lit by candlelight. All of us had a life time of journeys under our belts and we bonded on travel stories over tapas as we learnt more about each other. This workshop was personal because just one celebration might schedule it. Frank’s objective was to produce something more remarkable and individual for individuals instead of doing a trip with a big group.

” Aurora seeing is a psychological thing– it’s something from their long-lasting pail list. They imagine it for a very long time. And it’s a great deal of cash, time and effort to get to where you can see it. When they do see it– it’s psychological and we frequently hear extremely individual stories from individuals. Which’s what makes it unique for us too.” Frank discussed.Northern Lights photography Frank offered us with a clinical background and after that we entered into photography pointers and settings as he primed us for the huge program. I found out a lot about winter

Frank will likewise take images of you with the lights so you have an excellent memory of the experience. They likewise provide other ranges of things to do on their home like snowshoeing while seeing the northern lights, or you can simply hang out and enjoy their pets. The experience was whatever I might’ve requested and more.Ottsworld Alaska Winter Tour I like this little intimate setting a lot that I include it on my

— and it’s constantly an emphasize of the journey! Aurora Bear Photography: Aurora Bear Photography on Trip Advisor Read what other individuals thought about Aurora Bear Photo Workshops Have a look at all the


2. Last Frontier Mushing Co-op Aurora Night– AdventureRandy from The Christmas Story Amanda and Ryne, the 2 females who led our Northern Lights trip, were both skilled mushing racers. They were young, badass, and enjoyable to socialize with. They got all of us worn for a pet sled trip, something I had actually done previously, however I had actually never ever mushed in the dark. With the brand-new fallen snow, the black spruce trees were wonderful all covered with dollops of white. The pets aspired to run and we were wrapped a lot that we looked like

Scared of the winter in Fairbanks in the Winter? It simply takes the ideal equipment.Alaska winter packing list Check out my

and go ready!

After the sledding, we heated up in the comfortable yurt and got our electronic cameras all set. The projection was actually favorable for the night and the skies were completely clear. As we consumed scrumptious smoked salmon and reindeer sausage within, Amanda was outdoors expecting the aurora. The aurora projection was favorable for the night.

Northern lights in Fairbanks

We invested the next 90 minutes outside seeing as the lights grew in strength and began to stream and move like a wave in the sky. This was the substorms I had actually become aware of; streaks of light dancing upwards right above our heads. At that point, I simply saw in wonder. I didn’t take numerous images that night, since I was enthralled simply seeing it with my eyes. The night was best however cold. We sat by the fire, had hot chocolate, and took images, however primarily we simply took pleasure in the program.

The Mushing Co-op will likewise take images of you with the aurora, in addition to do enjoyable light photography as you wait on the aurora to appear.

Incredible pet sledding under the stars AND dancing aurora … it was 2 pail list products in one night! Aurora Watching and Dog Sledding: Last Frontier Mushing Co-op on Trip Advisor Read what other individuals needed to state about the Aurora Watching and Dog Sledding Have a look at


3. Borealis Basecamp and Viewing DomesBorealis Basecamp If you are trying to find an exceptionally special method to see the northern lights around Fairbanks and have a larger budget plan, then take a look at

It’s a hybrid glamping and aurora experience about an hour’s drive north of Fairbanks where there’s no indication of light contamination.

Borealis Basecamp is the latest and most attractive method to see the northern lights in the area. I didn’t in fact get to have the complete over night experience, however I did go there throughout the day to take a look at the special glamping structures.

Borealis Basecamp aurora viewing fairbanks

These fiberglass domes are similar to igloos and they are what exploration and research study groups utilize in the far polar areas. These igloos have actually been renovated to consist of clear, curved windows that extend 16 feet throughout each igloo roofing. This enables visitors to depend on bed and see the northern lights without leaving their relaxing duvet.

The igloos are not primitive although they are off the grid. They have kitchen spaces, a complete restroom, a genuine bed and bed mattress, and they are warmed.

Aurora Point 4. When, Aurora Point Tour Experience

is a reasonably brand-new experience simply outside of Fairbanks that caters to various individuals at. It’s certainly not intimate, however it is enjoyable and helpful. This is generally a comfy watching point instead of a trip. You get here (you need to obtain there) and get in the big structure where you’ll have the ability to conveniently wait inside your home.

Fire Pit

Inside Aurora Point

Colorful arora

In addition, they have a number of beautiful firepits outside where you can likewise hang out and keep watch on the sky. Or you can trek along among the numerous courses in the fields to keep moving and watch on the sky.

They will take images of you and the aurora and assist you with your own photography too. This experience is an excellent deal– however you definitely will not be alone.Chena Hot Springs Reservations are needed and you will need to supply your own transport there.

5. Chena Hot Springs Aurora Tour

I’m not a huge fan of

The ancient feline devices

Moon pet
aurora over the mountains

6. Polar Circle Northern Light Tour

Embark on a journey high above the Arctic Circle to Coldfoot by air. Take pleasure in lunch at the truck stop (a special experience itself), and after that shift to a van for the fascinating return drive along Dalton Highway to Fairbanks.

Along the method, we made stops to admire the pipeline, participate in some thrilling sledding, and appreciate the special landscapes of the Arctic Circle and the Yukon. Around 90 minutes north of Fairbanks we stopped at a little cabin to see the aurora. It slowly emerged throughout our van trip, reaching its complete, enchanting screen by the time we reached the cabin.Northern Alaska Tour Company Stay warm in the cabin

This was among my most remarkable nights for aurora activity, with the lights with dignity dancing throughout the sky for hours. The cabin provided a wonderful sanctuary for warming up and indulging in treats throughout breaks in between aurora eyeglasses. This was a long day– however it deserved it.

Book this trip through thetrip to Vegas They provide drive-up/fly-back variations in winter season

What Time Do the Northern Lights Appear in Fairbanks things to do in Fairbanks The common time the northern lights appear around Fairbanks is 10 PM to 3 AM. Oof– thanks Aurora Oval for keeping me up all night. I chose an aurora borealis journey in Alaska resembles a

You wind up in an unusual sleep pattern where you are awake from 10 PM to 4 AM when the lights are ideally noticeable and after that sleep till 11 AM the next early morning.

what to do while waiting for northern lights
There are lots of terrific

besides going after the Northern Lights, however simply do not prepare a lot of morning activities. Late nights and mornings do not blend!

TIP: Take a nap in the afternoon to get ready for your late-night aurora chasing.

Stay awake and warm with hot chocolate!

Peter Delemere Aurora Physicist

I’ve checked out Fairbanks various times and taken pleasure in seeing the Aurora Borealis there more than I might count. You have whatever you require in Fairbanks Alaska for an excellent Northern Lights journey. Since you’ll be blazing your own path while others head to pricey Scandinavian nations, and the finest part is that you feel like you have the location to yourself. Concern Fairbanks Alaska to see on your own!

Related(*) Disclosure: (*) I was a visitor of Explore Fairbanks throughout this journey, nevertheless all viewpoints revealed here are my own. This post includes some affiliate links. I will make a little commission at no additional expense to you if you select to buy products through these links. These commissions help in reducing the expenses of running this website(*)


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