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Old Nov 23, 08, 1:12 pm   #1
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Fairbanks Over Thanksgiving

We are leaving for FAI Nov27-30 to view the Aurora. The forecast is *moderate* on the 25-27th, but we arrive the night of the 27th, so we don't know how much will be left for us to see. The forecast for the remaining part of the trip is quiet, with nothing really viewable for over a week.

The weather forecast is 30% snow showers throughout our stay.

So - here is the situation. The primary reason for the trip is to view the Aurora. If the combination of a retreating display and 30% snow showers is going to make the trip less than successful, we'd rather cancel (award tickets I can cancel without a fee) and rebook for later in the year.

The problem is finding things to do during the day and evening - it's the holiday weekend and things are likely to be closed. We don't want to spend the entire trip cooped up in the hotel room after spending a couple hours visiting a museum or two.

Can any Fairbanks experts give me a realistic assessment, and either suggest I book later in the winter (March, for example) or offer suggestions on other things to do which could occupy our days and evenings? FWIW, Chena Hot Springs is out - we don't want to do that.
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Old Nov 23, 08, 6:44 pm   #2
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I have not traveled to FAI to see the aurora (seen them plenty from ANC, Scotland and other places) but to be frank I wouldn't go over Thanksgiving weekend in any case. With no disrespect to residents, Fairbanks isn't the world's most fascinating destination under the best of circumstances, and a holiday weekend with the high temperatures hovering around zero or 5 above, or with snow... well...

Not sure how your time would be, but I might suggest giving a thought to the Fur Rondy in ANC around the end of February - www.furrondy.net - with maybe a night or two up at FAI or somewhere else in the bush for the aurora if feasible. Even if the northern lights are quiet, the bars and merrymaking will more than compensate.
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Old Nov 23, 08, 7:03 pm   #3
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I was about ready to cancel, but found a link to the Northern Alaska Tour Company. They offer some interesting day, evening and multi-day tours - so I'm going to give them a call and get their take on next week and then make a decision.
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Old Nov 23, 08, 10:10 pm   #4
 
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If you do end up going, if you don't already, get a window seat for the flight to/from FAI/ANC. The coolest viewing of the northern lights I've seen were from an airplane over Alaska.
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Old Nov 25, 08, 11:10 am   #5
 
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May I ask why don't you want to visit Chena Hot Springs?
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Old Nov 25, 08, 12:07 pm   #6
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Originally Posted by adkkev View Post
May I ask why don't you want to visit Chena Hot Springs?
Just not our thing - and I did not read very favorable reviews about the Springs. Truthfully, the only reason we're going is to see the Aurora. Given the latest poor weather report and low probability of seeing anything except a distant green glow after the 27th, we're probably going to cancel this trip and rebook in February or March for a weekend where the aurora is forecast to be moderate or better.
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Old Nov 25, 08, 7:14 pm   #7
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I've only driven up to the springs on a summer day to see what they were all about (didn't stay and soak), but it looked like a nice operation to me. And from what I hear, there is nothing better than soaking in hot water while looking up at the shimmering sky--aurora watching without getting cold! (Except when you finally have to get out of the pool...)

I agree, though, that the aurora and weather forecasts don't look like they'll be cooperating terribly much for your trip. Better luck in the future...
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Old Nov 25, 08, 7:16 pm   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bocastephen View Post
Just not our thing - and I did not read very favorable reviews about the Springs. Truthfully, the only reason we're going is to see the Aurora. Given the latest poor weather report and low probability of seeing anything except a distant green glow after the 27th, we're probably going to cancel this trip and rebook in February or March for a weekend where the aurora is forecast to be moderate or better.
I've spent many a night at Chena Hot Springs in the winter and have yet to be disappointed. It's worth the drive, and it's an outstanding way to view the aurora. It's one of their specialties in the winter.

If you do still go over turkey day and happen to be a hockey fan, UAF has games this Friday and Saturday night at the Carlson Center.
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Old Nov 26, 08, 12:29 am   #9
 
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Come to Anchorage...

...and together we can discuss matters TSA-related.
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Old Nov 26, 08, 6:45 am   #10
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...and together we can discuss matters TSA-related.
I'm trying to keep my blood pressure down over the holidays
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Old Nov 27, 08, 8:21 pm   #11
 
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Not sure if you decided to make the trip or not, but snow or overcast conditions are a good way to ruin northern lights viewing. My best views growing up were on some of the most bitterly cold nights between October and March. Typically if it's really cold it's more likely to be clear (not a sure thing, but generally speaking). If I recall fall/spring are supposed to be the best times for northern lights, but my best views have been mid-winter, around December or January.

I will vouch for the fact that Fairbanks is not the most exciting place in the winter, especially if it's really cold. (If it's warm there's dogsledding, snowmachining, bad downhill skiing, good x-country skiing, hiking/snowshoeing, etc.) March is, in my opinion, a very nice time to visit, with a higher probability of warmer temperatures.
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Old Dec 6, 08, 11:58 am   #12
 
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Originally Posted by FBKSan View Post
March is, in my opinion, a very nice time to visit, with a higher probability of warmer temperatures.
To anybody still lurking on this thread, this is an excellent and somewhat unknown point: March is easily the best time of winter to visit Alaska. You have a winter's worth of snow, abundant daylight, and relatively moderate temperatures. It's like an oasis between the "real" winter months of Jan/Feb and the slush and dirt of April.
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