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Just back from a great trip to Fairbanks, Alaska to see the Northern Lights.  And see them we did!

Day 1 & 2:  Aurora Borealis – The Northern Lights

That little windmill stood as the trusty guardian of our Aurora Viewing Spot.  There wasn’t a lot of wind (thank goodness!), but what little there was would move the windmill.  It made a sad groaning noise as it spun.

The Aurorae were spectacular to see.  Some Aurora tips:

  • They tended to appear from 12:30am to as late as 3:30am.  Lots of naps needed during the day, and you are tired a lot.
  • They can appear very suddenly from nothing, and leave just as quickly.
  • They include quite a bit of motion, and look like curtains billowing in the wind.
  • They are much brighter when viewed in your iPhone than via the naked eye, but still very visible.
  • Beware of clouds, which will block your view of the lights.
  • Lots of people wandering around the hotel in the wee hours trying to glimpse the Aurora.

Day 2:  On our way to Chena Hot Springs

The Chena Hot Springs Resort is at the end of a 60 minute drive on this highway, due East of Fairbanks.  In addition to having very dark skies for excellent Aurora viewing, they also have a hot springs and an ice bar that are fun to visit.  While we enjoyed our visit, we found their services were very over-taxed for their ability to provide. 

For example, their dining room is tiny, and frequently gets overbooked.  The night we were there, the kitchen was on the fritz so every guest was forced to fend for themselves.  We wound up eating frozen pizzas from their gift shop.

Glad we only spent one night there, but it was worth it.  If we go another trip, I might spend 2 nights here as one night is not really enough time.

Chena Hot Springs Ice Bar

The Ice Bar is a very cool attraction at Chena Hot Springs.  It’s in a climate-controlled building that keeps a constant 27F temperature inside so the ice won’t melt.  They only serve one drink, Appletinis, but they’re quite tasty, and they’re served in ice goblets.

Ice Goblets shown above.  

The only drink the ice bar serves is an Appletini, but they’re quite tasty.  Leslie has refilled her ice goblet with a different drink.  Shortly after it sprang a leak.  This was entirely LJ’s fault, at least that’s Leslie’s story and she’s sticking to it!

Bobby’s Ice Bar Photos

Chena Hot Springs Aurora Sightings


Day 4:  Not much going on, darn it.

Day 5:  Sled Dog Races and the Return Home

These sled dogs were great fun.  They had such enthusiasm for their jobs.  We learned a few things about them:

  • They all look different because the focus is on genes that contribute to their performance without regard to their appearance.  
  • The biggest risk they have is overheating.  Temps were about 40’ish, and that’s a good 20 degrees over what they prefer.  So, they had to take a 20 min break between giving sled rides that lasted about 40 min.


Lodgings:  Pike’s Waterfront Lodge

Originally, I had planned on spending the entire trip at the Chena Hot Springs Lodge, but when I went to book the days just weren’t available.  My second choice was Pike’s Waterfront Lodge.  After trying both (we managed to book 1 night at Chena Hot Springs), I am so glad we spent the majority of our stay at Pike’s.  It’s simply a better run and more service-oriented establishment.


Here’s what Pike’s Waterfront looks like.  In the pic right above you can see our preferred Aurora Viewing Spot.  It was well shielded from artificial lights and just a short walk from our cabin.  The only shortcoming was that there were only a couple of benches and they were so low to the ground it was risky sitting down without falling down, LOL!

Here’s shot of what our cabins looked like at Pike’s.  Super Comfy, close to the Aurora Viewing Spot, and even had a nearby private parking area.