Northern Lights viewing in Fairbanks, Alaska
Northern Lights viewing in Fairbanks, Alaska

Lucky 7 Tips for Aurora Viewing in Fairbanks

Lucky 7 Tips for Aurora Viewing in Fairbanks

Brought to you by Explore Fairbanks

Under the veil of darkness, the aurora borealis, like magic, appears and dances across the sky. Do you dream of seeing the enticing northern lights? Do you long to witness the aurora weave its way across the sky like a lazy river or explode overhead in shards of red and green?

The northern lights over Fairbanks

Aurora Season in Fairbanks, Alaska, is from August 21 through April 21 and spans all four seasons and nine months of the year. Plan your trip during late August and the first half of September to revel in summer activities and attractions by day and chase the northern lights at night. Fall viewing unveils breathtaking autumnal colors and moderate weather. Winter expeditions offer long nights, dazzling snowy backdrops and unparalleled pursuits like dog mushing and giant ice-block carving. Lastly, spring is a joyful time offering winter landscapes paired with warmer temperatures.

Fairbanks' aurora borealis display

We invite you to use this list and start planning your extraordinary trip to see the northern lights in Fairbanks now.

1. Location, Location, Location.

Fairbanks is a world-famous aurora viewing destination because of its location directly under the “Auroral Oval,” where northern lights activity is concentrated. Because of the city’s ideal location, the acclaimed Geophysical Institute resides at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and tracks geomagnetic energy which predicts aurora activity daily.

2. Count the Days. 

If you stay in Fairbanks for a minimum of three nights and are actively out viewing every night you have a 90% chance of seeing the aurora. We suggest four to five nights as an ideal amount of time to scan the skies for the northern lights.

Northern Lights in Alaska

3. Go Hard.

Most die-hards chase the aurora from 10pm to 3am, and you should too. It’s also possible to see the lights earlier in the evening or during early morning hours. For the very best chances, pull an all-nighter.

4. Weather is King.

Key to aurora viewing are clear skies. Fortunately, Fairbanks has low precipitation, which results in many clear nights during Aurora Season. Keep in mind that weather can change quickly, and the skies can unexpectedly open revealing the capricious aurora crisscrossing the sky.

Tips for seeing northern lights in Fairbanks

5. Dark Skies.

You can see the aurora from downtown Fairbanks, Creamer’s Field, or anywhere in the vicinity. However, city lights will mute the vibrancy. In general, Fairbanks’ small population doesn’t create much light pollution, but to get the northern lights to really “POP” it’s best to venture out a few miles.

6. Join the Party or Take off Solo.

We recommend going with a tour to chase the aurora or book an indoor viewing location and wait for the lights to appear. It’s cool if you are comfortable venturing out solo, but it’s also wise to hang with the experts. Use the Explore Fairbanks website to find local entrepreneurs that can help you view the northern lights.

7. Track the Aurora.

The Aurora Tracker on the Explore Fairbanks website combines aurora data from the Geophysical Institute, the weather forecast in six locations, the amount of darkness, and three days of predictions. There are other useful apps that utilize a more in-depth calculation, but the Tracker is an excellent baseline tool for predicting when the northern lights may appear in the sky.

Don’t let your aurora dreams go unfulfilled. Fingers-crossed (but no guarantees) with these seven tips that you’ll get lucky. Using Fairbanks as a basecamp, you can literally head off in any direction and pick your aurora viewing vantage point. Choose a mountaintop, a lake, a wilderness road, a hot spring, or from the basket of a dog sled. Or pick a cozy lodge, rustic yurt, modern igloo, classic log cabin, or well-appointed aurora viewing space.

Come to Fairbanks and linger outside with eyes turned towards the night sky. Let the light of the aurora borealis excite your senses and soothe your soul.

Visit the Explore Fairbanks website.

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