Did you know that Alaska Fairbanks has some of the best locations to view the Northern Lights? But why is that?
It’s no surprise that with Fairbanks’ location, it is frequently referred to as the best place to see the northern lights in Alaska, and in many cases, across the globe. It’s because it’s under the “Auroral Oval,” a ring-shaped zone over the far north where aurora activity is concentrated.
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable natural phenomenon, there’s nothing quite like the Northern Lights. Also known as Aurora Borealis, this spectacular light show is caused by electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere. And while you can see the Northern Lights in many parts of the world, few places are better than Fairbanks, Alaska. Here’s how to make the most of your trip and catch a glimpse of this breathtaking spectacle.
There are many different ways you can hunt for and view the aurora. You can drive to a nearby vantage point and wait for them to appear, or take a tour and watch them from a heated “aurorium” cabin, yurt, dome, lodge, dog sled adventure, or on a snowcat tour.
Choose the right time of year
The Northern Lights are visible from Fairbanks for much of the year, but the best time to see them is during the winter months. From late August to early April, the skies are darker and clearer, and there’s less chance of cloudy weather obscuring your view. Additionally, you’ll want to visit during a new moon, as the darker skies will make the lights appear even more vivid.
If you’re looking for a truly unforgettable natural phenomenon, there’s nothing quite like the Northern Lights.
One of the biggest tips I tell guests is a service that most don’t know about… It has to do with your Hotel. A lot of the hotels in Fairbanks have a Northern Lights “Wake Up” call. Tell the front desk to call you when the Auroras are out and active. The Auroras or Northern Lights tend to happen LATE at night. Mostly around 1 am. So get some sleep and have no worries about missing the wonderful dancing lights. It’s no guarantees, but the longer you’re here, the better your chances of seeing the dancing light show.
Find the right location
Fairbanks is a small city, but you’ll still want to get away from the lights of civilization to get the best view of the Northern Lights. Some of the most popular spots for viewing include Murphy Dome, Chena Hot Springs, and Creamer’s Field. Alternatively, you could book a tour that will take you to a remote location that’s known for its excellent views of the Aurora Borealis.
When people ask me what it’s like to see the Northern Lights, the best way I can describe it as a mesmerizing giant waving flag-like light show. It’s so mesmerizing that I have found myself stopped on the side of the road just watching them dance and wondering what makes them so beautiful.
Check the weather
Even if you’re visiting during the prime Northern Lights season, the weather can still be unpredictable. Clouds can obscure the view, and even light snowfall can interfere with your ability to see the lights. Before you head out, make sure to check the weather forecast and be prepared for colder temperatures. Dress in layers and bring warm, waterproof clothing, as well as gloves and a hat to keep your extremities warm.
The best time to see them is from August 21 to April 21 and the aurora will be visible in Fairbanks on an average of four out of five nights when the sky is clear and dark enough. Hence why 1 am is really the best time. For the most part, they will show off colors of White and Green, and when they are really firing off you can expect to see some purple in there too! For me, those are kinda rare.
Bring the right equipment
While the Northern Lights are visible to the naked eye, you’ll get a much better view if you have the right equipment. A tripod is essential for keeping your camera steady during long exposures, and a remote shutter release will help you avoid shaking the camera while taking photos. You’ll also want to bring a camera with manual settings that allow you to adjust the aperture, ISO, and shutter speed.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll see them on any given night. Even if you do everything right, there’s a chance that clouds or other factors could obscure your view. However, with patience and persistence, you’ll increase your chances of catching a glimpse of this awe-inspiring light show.
To read more about the Northern Lights you can check out these articles from others.