We've tried to list our most frequently asked questions but if we've missed something, please feel free to contact us. We either have the answer or we know someone who DOES!!
Most of our Frequently Asked Questions revolve around the weather. So just to let you know the latest....
What's the weather like in Fairbanks?
People who've never been here are surprised at how great the weather is in the Interior! We usually get less than 12 inches of rain in the summer and temperatures reach 87 to 90 degrees pretty regularly.
And we only get 70 inches of light, dry snow ~ actually, that is quite a lot of snow! an average of 6 feet or so... and it is light and powdery with very low moisture content. It is true that winter temperatures can drop to below minus sixty degrees Fahrenheit, but that usually lasts only a few days and it doesn't happen every winter.
Honestly, Fairbanks has just the right weather for summer paddling, fishing, birding, hiking and winter snow-machining, snowshoeing and skiing. Summer days are breezy, dry and warm and most winter days are clear or slightly overcast with almost no wind.
How cold does it REALLY get in the winter?
Ahh, well ... it does get pretty cold ... minus 40 is not uncommon. But you can always add another layer to warm up. When I was in Tallahassee and Tucson, I could never quite strip down enough to get cool!
It isn't unusual for winter temperature to move back and forth between 35 below zero and 45 above in the same week! In fact, last week this time (mid-February) it was minus 35 degrees Fahrenheit .... and here I am today, sitting at my kitchen table typing away while I look out at the sunny blue sky ... and 40 degrees above zero!
You know what! I'm takin' a break and hit the x-country ski trails at the university for an hour or so!
When is the best time to vacation in winter? Don't the days get really short? I read where it's dark nearly all day long ...
Yes, the days do get short. On the winter solstice ~ the shortest day of the year ~ the sun rises about 11:00 AM and sets about 2:45 PM. But wait! that isn't the whole story!
Light is like a living being in the Interior! You can feel in growing, and expanding. Really!
We have 4 to 6 hours of dawn and 4 to 6 hours of dusk! And remember all that light powdery snow? The snow is bright, and white, and it sparkles! It reflects the light of dawn and dusk, the starlight and the moonlight, and even the artificial light (yes, we do have electricity way up here in the Last Frontier). That makes it so very bright and beautiful.
Starting on the Winter Solstice (December 21st), we gain about seven minutes of daylight a day. By mid-March we already have more actual sun-above-the-horizon daylight than anyplace in the Lower 48.
I think I'd like to visit Fairbanks in the Summer (for my first trip anyway). I heard the days get really long. How long is 'long'?
Yep! We have lots of sunshine in Interior Alaska in the summer and the days are long! The daylight continues to grow longer and longer after mid-March.
Starting in May it seems like the sun never slips behind the horizon. It really does though, except right at Summer Solstice (June 21t), the longest day of the year. People get pretty happy around Solstice. Lots of parties going on in the streets of cities and towns all over the Interior of Alaska.
For those of you who just want the facts:
May daylight– between 17 and 18 hours
June daylight – between 19 and 21 hours
July daylight – between 18 and 20 hours
August daylight – between 15 and 16 hours
September daylight– between 12 and 13 hours
Can we go camping in the Alaska Interior? Or is wildlife a problem?
That is kind of two questions. Yes of course, there is lots of camping in Interior Alaska! There are over 50 State and National Park campgrounds in the Interior. For a well researched list of public camp grounds, check out the website for Billies Back Packer Hostel. (
And yes, the wildlife is plentiful. But wildlife is not a problem if you take some ordinary precautions. First, don't feed human food to anything or anybody, unless it is definitely a human! Second, do NOT try to sneak up on any wildlife, ever ... you want to stay a minimum of 1/4 mile from bears and 25 yards or so from all other animals.
The main animal you'd need to be concerned about is bear. You want to to carry a BRFC (Bear Resistant Food Container) to store all food, garbage, and scented items when you camp. And keep it at least 100 yards away from your cooking and camping area overnight. In fact, BRFC is required gear and is issued free of charge with permits to camp in Denali.
When is the best time and where is the best spot to view the northern lights? Can you see the lights from Fairbanks?
Oh yes. Fairbanks, and the rest of the Interior, is an great place to watch the Northern Lights ~ also called the Aurora Borealis. It is tough to predict when they'll "be out" though. The Northern Lights are there year round, but because of the daylight in summer and atmospheric conditions in the winter, they can be difficult (if not impossible) to see part of the year.
Actually, now don't laugh 'cause this is the truth! The best way to see the Northern Lights is to stay for a week or two (sometime between mid-September and mid-April) with a friend who has an outhouse. Then you get to go outside in the middle of the night or early morning when the sky often dances with light from the Aurora Borealis! Just be sure to look up! Lots of interesting information and aurora predictions can be found at www.gedds.alaka.edu/AuroraForcast/
I'm a photographer. Where is the best place to photograph wildlife? Are bald eagle sightings common? Is that something I can do on my own or should I go with a group or a guide because of the wildlife?
I've always wanted to travel by train. Can I get to Fairbanks by train and are there trains from Fairbanks to other vacation spots?
What kinds of wildlife can I expect to see?
Where are the best places to fish in the interior?
I don't do much fishing myself, but I see folks with poles in the water and I've heard them talking about good places to fish... here are some of those spots.
-Chena River (Arctic grayling)-Along the Steese Highway (northern pike, grayling, burbot, sheefish, king and chum salmon)-Along the Elliott Highway (grayling, pike, sheefish, whitefish, king and chum salmon)-Along the Dalton Highway (Arctic grayling, Dolly Varden, lake trout, burbot and northern pike) -Moose Creek and Piledriver Slough (rainbow trout, Arctic grayling, northern pike and burbot)-Little Salcha and Salcha Rivers (Arctic grayling, rainbow trout, Arctic char and silver and king salmon)-Harding Lake (Arctic char, lake trout, burbot, northern pike and salmon)-Chena Lakes (rainbow trout and silver salmon)-Birch Lake (rainbow trout and silver salmon)-Quartz Lake (rainbow trout, silver salmon and Arctic Char).
Find out more from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website, where you can even buy your fishing license online!
How much further north from Fairbanks can we drive?
I have to visit Mt. McKinley (right?) How far is Denali National Park from Fairbanks? Is there a train that runs to the Park? If so, how often and are reservations recommended?
Absolutely there is a train!
Denali National Park is 120 miles south of Fairbanks and 240 miles north of Anchorage. The Alaska Railroad makes daily trips to and from Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping at Denali Park on the way. By the way, folks call the mountain "Denali," which means "the Great One" instead of "Mt. McKinley."
Can you recommend a place to stay? I'm not much into hotels.. maybe a condo?
How many people live in Fairbanks?
Tell you what, I'll give you population information on Fairbanks as well as some of the other towns in Interior Alaska. I'll start with the Fairbanks North Star Borough (FNSB) which is made up lots of separate enclaves of people who are very proud of their little population centers. These are all round figures...
Fairbanks North Star Borough - 91,560
Fairbanks - 35,000 (Alaska's 2nd largest city)
North Pole -Ester -Salcha - Tok - Healy -Nenana -
State of Alaska - 663,661 (42% reside in Anchorage)
Why would anyone want to live in Fairbanks?
Wow! what a question! (we actually hear it a lot! but once people have experienced our home town, they understand a little better. Mostly we love it because of the people who are here .... but also because while it has most of the amenities of a large city (unless you are really into mega-malls) it doesn't have the frenetic pace and overcrowding.
We have crisp, clean air (most of the time ... sometimes there is smoke from fires in the summer and temperature inversions in the winter, but no place is perfect 100% of the time!) We have beautiful surroundings, friendly neighbors, good schools and the flagship campus of the University of Alaska is a vital part of the community. Plenty of indoor and outdoor activities make Fairbanks the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family... well, we think so!
Can you see Mt. McKinley from Fairbanks?
Most Alaskans prefer the name Denali and yes you can see Denali from just about anywhere in the interior or south central regions of Alaska.
Oh! I have a bunch of friends who are climbers! They've seen Fairbanks from Denali! There will be a page on this site soon to let you in on some of their climbing experiences.
Someone told me there's gold in Fairbanks. Is that true? Still?
Yes it is true. Gold is an important piece of our history, and our current economy. In fact, the largest gold mine in North America is the Fort Knox Gold Mine that puts out 40,000 tons of ore every day to extract gold! It is located up the Old Steese Highway about 25 miles from Fairbanks.
But you can do some gold mining while you are here. The gold is still in creeks gold panning is quite a nice family activity. You Should try your hand at panning, get some gold to take home with you!
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