When we planned our trip to Fairbanks, we had one goal in mind, see the Northern Lights. Our trip basically started from searching on the web “best places to see the Northern Lights.” Fairbanks is one of the best locations in the world to see them, but it still requires a lot of luck and planning. Besides seeing the lights, we did not have much else in mind for our trip to Fairbanks.
While traveling to Alaska was an amazing experience, we probably did not pick the best time to go in terms of weather, nature and wildlife. We arrived in Fairbanks at the beginning of April, a month where most of the snow is melting away and none of the trees or plants have bloomed. Depending on the weather, April is also a month where the wildlife is starting to come out of hibernation. So, to make a long story short, we did not get a chance to see any wildlife or nature.
Our first recommendation would be to stay for at least five days if you are trying to see the Northern Lights. We only stayed for about three days in Fairbanks, and missed the lights because we were sitting in our airport terminal about to get on our flight home. On our last day, we attempted to go to a popular viewing spot, but had to head out early to return our rental car. We stayed in the spot until after 10:00 at night, and the sun was still in the process of setting. This was another thing that we did not take into consideration, there was about 16 hours of daylight during the days we were there. It was not quite dark enough yet while we were trying to capture the lights. Also, be sure to check the Aurora forecast before venturing outside, as this is a great indication to whether or not the lights will be active.
If you are traveling to Alaska to visit Denali National Park & Preserve to see wildlife or go camping, then we suggest waiting until the summer months. We were able to drive through about half of the park because that was the only section of the road that was open. While we were driving through, we did not see any wildlife, as locals told us that most of the animals were still making their way over the mountain to begin mating and feeding. While the views were still breathtaking and it was pleasant to be pretty much alone in the park, one can only imagine what it is like during the summer months when the wildlife and nature are out in full force.
One thing to take into account before traveling to Fairbanks is the long drive times from one spot to another. It took about 3 hours to get to Denali National Park from Fairbanks. We did not realize that none of the stores and restaurants outside of the National Park were not open and we made the mistake of not packing any lunch. By time we got back to Fairbanks we were starving.
On our last day in Fairbanks, we ran out of things to do. There was simply just not enough to do during the month of April. We visited Chena Hot Springs Resort and North Pole, Alaska but we could not find much else to do to pass the time.
We wouldn’t go as far as to say that our trip to Alaska was a failure, but we were very disappointed that we did not get to see the Northern Lights. The trip was still a once in a lifetime experience and we definitely want to try our luck again to see the lights. Feel free to contact us with any questions if you are planning on visiting Fairbanks soon.