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Winter Activities in Fairbanks, Alaska
Northern Lights Viewing
Winter is a the best time to see the Northern lights with our long, dark nights and clear skies. A short drive out of town will give you great areas to sky watch. I have found that the best times to watch is after midnight-3:00am. The brilliance of the Auroras are dependent on how much solar activity our Sun has had. When the solar flares are large, we will get very active auroras that dance across the night sky with the energy of a salsa dancer in their colorful clothes. Most nights they will meander across the sky like a waltz, still beautiful with more subdued colors and movement.
Aurora are seen at high latitudes, they are caused by highly charged particles that bombard the earth. These particles are mainly electrons and protons that are carried by the solar winds. When these winds increase in speed, we get what is called a magnetic storm which produce more intense colors and movement.
You can watch the auroras on a webcam: http://www.aurorawebcam.com or grab a tour at Skiland Aurora Viewing http://www.skiland.org/aurora.html
The Finish Line
Fairbanks is the finish line for the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. A race that is 1000 miles long through the rugged, pristine forest of Yukon and Alaska following the Gold Rush and Mail routes of the past. The race last anywhere from 10 to 16 days or until the last team crosses the finish line in Fairbanks. The race begins at Whitehorse, Yukon with festive excitement, spectators cheering on their favorite musher and dog team. One can almost hear the dogs urging the people to" hurry up and get the show on the road" as they bark and lunge with anticipation of a run. The mushers and their dogs have trained hard all year long for this race.
The race test the endurance, skills, strength and ability of both the musher and dogs. These teams of elite, marathon athletes that have formed a bond that lasts a lifetime. They will depend on each other for their survival in the harsh terrain and bitter cold temperatures. Imagine being out there with your dogs traveling through dense forest in sub-zero temperatures and the only sounds you hear are the crunch of the snow, the yips of your dogs and possibly the distant howls of your competitors team.
Visit: http://www.yukonquest.com and choose your team to cheer on.
There are many places to visit, museums, art galleries, restaurants, clubs. I will only highlight my favorites.
The University of Fairbanks Museum features native history and crafts, history of the Gold Rush, dinosaur artifacts, artwork, and my favorite, The Place Where You Go To Listen. The Place Where You Go To Listen is an experience of light and sound created by composer John Luther Adams, a former Fairbanks resident. Here you can experience the seismic vibrations of the earth, the northern lights, phases of the moon and the rhythm of light and darkness all set to music.
Pioneer Park is Alaska's only Historical Theme Park. At the Park you can step back into time and learn how the Fairbanks got its start and all of the colorful characters of the Gold rush Era. Learn about the prospectors, the bad girls of the Klondike, swindlers and all that comes with settling new territory in the west. Visit museums, restaurants, galleries, shops and other attractions here at the Park.
The BP World Ice Art Championship is a month long event. Ice Alaska began in 1990 and went from a week long event to what it is today. The return of spring festivities began in the 1930s to celebrate the end of winter and the long dark nights. It is a time to reconnect with neighbors and friends. Today, Ice Art competitors come from all over the world to carve as many as 100 artist will be competing. There are single block and multi-block of ice for both the professional and amateur artist to carve. These are some fantastic artist that brave the cold conditions to create something extraordinary.
Chena Hot Springs Resort
The Resort is famous for their legendary healing mineral hot springs. Founded 100 years ago it boasts of using geothermal energy from the hot springs to heat their buildings and greenhouse which operates year around. There are many activities to participate in.
You can visit the Chena Kennels, here you can receive a tour, take a ride on a dog sled or if you want to try your hand at mushing you can attend their dog mushing school. After taking the class you can take your team on a 2 mile trek through the beautiful forest. After a day on the trail stop in at the Aurora Ice Museum and have a cocktail at the Ice Bar and enjoy the fantastic ice sculptures created by World Champions Steve Brice and his wife, Heather. The museum is a cool 27F( -7C).
The restaurant feature fresh produce from their geothermal heated greenhouses. Still up for adventure after eating? Check out the other activities offered; skiing, ice skating, snowmobiling and hiking. Not so ambitious? Then relax in their world famous hot springs. The hot spring features indoor family pool, hot tubs, and of course Rock Lake. Rock Lake is an outdoor natural hot springs of healing mineral water. Enjoy a nice soak while watching the Auroras play overhead.