Alaskan Adventure: Fairbanks Edition

Chieftain-approaching-Denali-alaska Denali Air's Chieftain approaching Denali National Park

The midnight summer sun in Alaska gives you long days to fill with activities, and luckily there’s no shortage of things to do in Fairbanks. Rich culture, incredible wildlife, and spectacular views await you in this hidden gem city. Check out the activities below for a summer trip you won't forget.  

Running Reindeer Ranch

Running Reindeer Ranch
$55 - $100; seasonal rates

Located just north of Fairbanks, this family owned farm allows visitors to spend time with some of their very own reindeer. No Santas are involved; just book an appointment online and take a trek on a guided nature walk with one of the owners, where you learn about the history of the birch forest and the reindeer that live there. The reindeer are tame but not trained, so there are lots of opportunities for some candid, antler-friend featured photos! There are even two new additions to the reindeer family – a pair of sweet baby calves born in 2018. After the tour, enjoy some award-winning cookies and visit their perennial and vegetable gardens.

Chena Hot Springs Resort

auroraoverauroriumrightview gary schultz
Chena Sled Dog Kennel Ride + Tour, $80; Aurora Ice Museum, $15; Hot Springs, $15

There’s tons to do at and around this resort, and it’s the perfect spot to get a truly unique Alaskan experience. First, check out the Chena Sled Dog Kennel to experience the traditional winter sport of dog mushing. In the summertime, a wheeled cart is used instead of a snow sled, and you’re pulled behind a team of Alaskan Huskies on a 1.5 mile trail ride. You can also tour the kennel and learn more about the sport and meet some of amazing working dogs. Don’t miss the Aurora Ice Museum, too, which is created from over 1,000 tons of ice and snow, to view one of a kind ice sculptures at a chilling 25 degrees. The museum also has a bar with glasses carved out of ice, so cocktail hour is a must. Finally, it wouldn’t be a hot springs resort without the hot springs. Make sure to visit the resort’s outdoor natural hot springs rock lake, averaging 106 degrees, which is open until midnight. If you visit during September (or later into wintertime), you may also see the aurora borealis in its full glory as Fairbanks is a prime viewing location for the northern lights. (photo credit: Gary Schultz)

Gold Panning Tour @ Gold Daughters

gold daughters panning
Starting at $20

Finders keepers is the motto, and you’re already guaranteed to gold. The day starts with a short panning lesson where you perfect your technique and learn about the “Alaska Gold Rush” and the excitement that brought people to Fairbanks over 100 years ago. There’s also the chance to find other fossils and minerals, including pyrite, quartz crystals, and garnets. Pan all day and sift through piles of “paydirt” hauled in from a local operating gold mine for no additional cost.

Denali Air Peak Experience

Climbing along the spine of the Alaska Range
$734 tour and roundtrip rail

Take a train to Denali National Park for an unforgettable bird’s eye view of the region’s most spectacular geological features. Out of Fairbanks, you pass through part of the historic gold mining districts and cross over the Tanana River. Eventually you reach the Nenana River canyon gorge, one of the most scenic portions of the train trip, which has class III and IV whitewater rapids and is a popular rafting area. The narrated flight to Denali will be the highlight of the trip, which explores the rivers, valleys, and mountains that shape the park. The flight takes you within six miles of the Denali's summit (North America's highest point), giving you full views of the vast glaciers and peaks of the Alaska Range. 

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