In search of something beyond sun, sand and surf for your winter’s getaway? Head north – far, far north – to the land of the Northern Lights (photographed above by DenaliNPS). Alaska’s a great place to behold Aurora Borealis, specifically around the time of the equinox, in February and March. Winnow it down even further and Feb. 10 or March 11 are prime-time viewing dates. That’s because the window for the greatest sky show around is seven days prior to, or seven days following the appearance of the new moon.
Book your passage on Alaska Airlines up to Fairbanks. There are nonstops this time of year from Seattle/Tacoma and Anchorage. It wouldn’t hurt to book a tour beforehand, perhaps an excursion from Go Alaska Tours.
Here’s what the four-day foray looks like:
– Day 1. Arrive in Fairbanks and check into tour hotel on the banks of the Chena River. Dinner at Pikes Landing Restaurant or the Pumphouse, let the conversation wander to thoughts of the coming adventure.
– Day 2. Explore Fairbanks, and revel in the far-northern city in winter. It’s a scant 180 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The evening is ripe for aurora watching. You’ll drive to a lodge 20 miles north of Fairbanks, away form the city’s lights. That’s where the 270-degree expanse of the heavens opens up to you through panoramic picture windows. Hale and hearty? Take in the view from outside.
– Day 3 finds you even further from town, 60 miles northeast of Fairbanks at Chena Hot Springs Resort. Soak in the expansive indoor mineral pool, maybe the outdoor rock lake or hot tubs and wait for the Northern Lights to steal the scene come evening. Included in this part of the trip is a journey to the Aurora Ice Museum and Stoli Ice Bar.
– Day 4 is given over to shopping, perusal of Fairbanks art galleries and such.
No mere vacation this, it’s a journey unlike any you’ve ever experienced before. Check out these fantastic photos of the Northern Lights in Alaska: