Fairbanks, Coldfoot, Denali National Park and Preserve
The best of Fairbanks festivals and winter events combined with unrivaled northern lights viewing above the Arctic Circle
Day 1 – Fairbanks
Stroll through the ice sculpture park at the World Ice Art Championships, which attracts sculptors from around the world to Fairbanks from late February through March. Settle in to a cozy log cabin B&B or rustic lodge.
Day 2 – Chena Hot Springs
Enjoy a scenic drive through the Chena River State Recreation Area to overnight at Chena Hot Springs Resort. Upon arrival, visit the Aurora Ice Museum, crafted from more than 1,000 tons of ice. Soak off the chill in the outdoor geothermal hot springs pool and keep your eyes on the sky for sightings of the northern lights.
Day 3 – Fairbanks
Head back to Fairbanks to experience the area’s arts and culture. The annual Festival of Native Arts, held at the end of February on the campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, features art and performances by Alaska Natives from across the state. The Museum of the North, also on campus, features both contemporary and classic Alaska art along with natural history artifacts in one of Alaska’s finest collections.
Day 4 – Fairbanks-Coldfoot
Join a local tour operator for a three-day, two-night adventure above the Arctic Circle to the tiny town of Coldfoot. On the flight north, you’ll cross the Arctic Circle and Yukon River.
Day 5 – Coldfoot
Gear up and head out on the trails on a guided dog mushing expedition and enjoy the stunning winter landscape of the high Arctic. Keep an eye out for wildlife including arctic fox, snowshoe hares and caribou. Spend the evening and late night watching the aurora borealis as it lights up the expansive Arctic sky.
Day 6 – Coldfoot-Fairbanks
Return to Fairbanks via the Dalton Highway, the northernmost highway in the United States. Along the way, you’ll see the famed trans-Alaska pipeline and cross the frozen Yukon River. As you cross the Arctic Circle on the way south, you’ll stop for a ceremonial photo opportunity.
Day 7 – Fairbanks
Round out your trip with the excitement of the Open North American Sled Dog Championships, dog-powered sprint races that take place in downtown Fairbanks in late March, or visit a local musher for a kennel tour. Local art galleries showcase the work of creative locals and Native artisans. Want to stretch your legs? Fairbanks boasts an extensive network of lighted, groomed Nordic ski trails.
2-Day Add-On: Denali National Park and Preserve
From Fairbanks, drive a rental car to Denali National Park, just 120 miles south. Visit the winter park visitor center for wildlife viewing information and to borrow a set of snowshoes. The park offers ranger-led snowshoe walks most winter weekends, depending on weather. Arrange to spend the night in Healy, the closest community to the park. Drive back to Fairbanks the next day.