Known as the “Golden Heart of Alaska,” Fairbanks has tiny villages throughout its wilderness, such as the Barrow and the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay. Local activities and events include the Aurora Viewing, the El Dorado Gold Mine, Gold Dredge #8, and more. Fairbanks is located 358 miles north of Anchorage and 188 miles south of the Arctic Circle.
Fairbanks, in spite of its location towards the northern part of Alaska and the Arctic Circle, can have temperatures up in the 90s in the summer. In the winter, it dips below zero degrees.
The best time to watch the “Northern Lights” is between December and March. This is when the nights are longer and the skies are darker. The Aurora is more active late at night or early in the morning, because the sky is clear and the air is chilly.
Displays of the Aurora include ribbons of light that shimmer in the sky that lasts for hours on end. These ribbons look like glowing, dancing curtains of green, yellow and orange or dark red colors. The altitude of its lower edge is 60 to 70 miles above the earth.
Scientists think the Aurora is caused by solar winds that flow across the Earth’s upper atmosphere; hitting molecules of gas and lighting them up like a neon sign. Even so, the rarest and most famous Aurora was a red Aurora that was sighted on February 11, 1958.
El Dorado Gold Mine
This is where you can take a guided tour on the old train of the Tanana Valley Railroad through the gold fields of the Interior. You also get a short course in gold panning, where you get your very own bucket filled with pay dirt right out of a sluice box. Here you get an opportunity to go back in time and relive the history of panning for gold. Refreshments are available immediately after the tour. Plus, you get the chance to find out if your panning is worth its weight in gold.
The tour departs at 9:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. each day, with exception of Saturday and Monday, where tours are in the afternoons only. Tours are available from May 13 until the second week in September.
Listed a National Historic Site in 1984 and a National Historical Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1986, a Gold Dredge tour includes a 20-minute audiovisual presentation of Fairbanks area gold mining operations, the dredge, the dredge supply buildings with machinery, equipment and mining discoveries, the bunk house, a “Miners’ Buffet” lunch, and a gift shop visit.
Golden Days Celebration
This is a celebration of the discovery of gold struck on July 22, 1902, in a creek 12 miles north of Captain E. T. Barnette’s Trading Post by Felix Pedro. It is held in Fairbanks about July 22nd of each year. Here, week-long activities include the state’s largest parade, luncheons, theatre, street fairs, rubber duckie races, and more. For more information, call (907) 452-1105 or email [email protected]