A week-long excursion through Alaska's Winter Wonderland. Travel onboard the famous Alaska Winter Snow train along the magnificent snow covered Alaska Range to Fairbanks. From here take a guide van excursion along the Dalton Highway and cross the arctic circle. Alaska's arctic region provides some of Alaska’s most outstanding Northern Lights viewing. Relax in the mineral pools at Chena Hot Springs resort before returning to Fairbanks. Enjoy the winter activities sled dog tours, x-country skiing, snowmobiling and ice-skating.
Upon arrival transfer to a downtown hotel. Remaining day at leisure. Explore Alaska's largest city by yourself and visit the many points of interests. Take a walk on the Coastal Trail along Cook Inlet to Earthquake Park with a magnificent view of the snow capped Alaska Mountain Range in the distance. Don't miss a delicious dinner at one of Anchorage's top seafood restaurants. During February and March Anchorage hosts the annual Fur Rendezvous (Rondy), Ice Carving Festivals, the Iditarod Sled Dog Race and other fun winter events. Overnight: Anchorage
Anchorage - Fairbanks
Transfer to the rail station and departure at 8:15 am for a scenic full-day rail tour to Fairbanks. You'll get fantastic and breathtaking views of the snow covered Alaska Mountain Range, a glimpse of Talkeetna and Denali National Park. Keep on the look out for moose and other wildlife as you soak up the winter sun. After arriving in Fairbanks at 8 pm you will be transferred to your hotel in downtown. Relax during your first evening in Fairbanks and get ready for a few days of winter fun and adventure within the Last Frontier. You may watch the Aurora Borealis at night dancing on the northern sky and/or enjoy a dinner at the scenic Pikes Landing Restaurant or the Pumphouse. Overnight: Fairbanks
Fairbanks – Dalton Highway / Arctic Circle
Depart from Fairbanks in comfortable tour van and travel along the remarkable Trans Alaska Pipeline. You'll follow the famous Dalton Highway, the solitary land route of Alaska's Arctic wilderness. Traverse the frozen Yukon River and enjoy the snow-sculpted forest. Cross the Arctic Circle in ceremonious fashion and receive an official Arctic Circle Adventure Certificate. Appreciate the low light on the horizon as it shines on the windswept Arctic Tundra. Arrive Coldfoot in early evening and get settled into your overnight accommodations. Watch the Aurora Borealis at night dancing on the northern sky. Accommodations: Located halfway between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, Coldfoot provides an excellent base for travelers in Alaska's Brooks Mountain Range. Although rustic by urban standards, the hotel is clean and each room features two twin beds and private bath facilities in each of the rooms, a luxury in the remote wilderness of Alaska's Arctic.
Brooks Range / Arctic Circle
Depart for an adventurous drive into the Brooks Range to Atigun Pass. This is the northernmost pass in the world that is kept open year-round and the highest year around pass in Alaska. Enjoy an evening aurora viewing expedition to historic Wiseman – an old gold rush town established in 1907 - for a unique cabin visit and an opportunity to enjoy the solitude of the Brooks Mountain Range as you scan the northern sky for Northern Lights activities. Enjoy the spectacular show as they are flipping and waving through the sky in shades of green, purple and red. A spectacle you’ll never forget. Cabin visit includes complimentary hot beverages. Departs at 10:00 pm and returns at 2:00 am. Overnight.
Brooks Range / Arctic Circle - Fairbanks
Breakfast at the Truckers Cafe in Coldfoot. Time for another sightseeing activity trip: Dog Sledding Adventures: Enjoy an experience with real Alaskan sled dogs. Learn what it takes to have a dog team in Alaska and enjoy. $99.00 per person. Fly back to Fairbanks with eagle views of the remarkable Trans Alaska Pipeline, symbolizing the immense changes brought to Alaska's Arctic by the discovery of oil over 30 years ago. Rest of the day at leisure. Explore Fairbanks on your own and check out the many winter carnival activities around the (ACS) All American Sled Dog Race Championship and World Ice Sculpture Carving Championship. Overnight: Fairbanks.
Fairbanks - Chena Hot Springs Resort
After breakfast check out of your hotel and enjoy the scenic road trip to Chena Hot Springs Resort - a prime Northern Lights viewing area in the hills about 60 road miles northeast of Fairbanks. The 440-acre resort is known for its geothermal waters - first discovered by gold prospectors at the turn of the century. In 1912 - the 40 sq mile geothermal area was the premier place to soak - for residents of the booming town Fairbanks. Tonight join the spectacular Snow Coach tour to see the aurora up close (optional). From the resort you travel 30 minutes to the top of a hill where no city lights interfere the aurora. After arriving on top you can step inside the heated Mongolian Yurt to warm up and enjoy a hot beverage. For the next few hours you can always step outside and enjoy spectacular 360-degree Aurora displays. Return to the resort at around 2 AM. Overnight: Chena Hot Springs
Chena Hot Springs Resort
Relax in the large heated mineral indoor pool, the outdoor rock lake and in numerous hot tubs – which are providing a great opportunity to soak or swim until the Northern Lights are appearing in the evening again. In the afternoon you can take a guided tour around the Aurora Ice Museum, visit a dog kennel or run your own sled dog team. Join a guided snow machine tour around the areas of the resort and have your tour guide show you the remote backcountry. Get a work out by renting cross-country skis, snowshoes or ice skates and cruise around the resort's 440 beautiful acres and scenic trails. There is a ice skating pond right next to the outdoor pool. If you prefer relaxing, try a Swedish or Oil massage to rejuvenate your mind, body and spirit.
Chena Hot Springs Resort - Fairbanks
After breakfast spend some time to enjoy Chena Hot Springs Resort facilities. Individual transfer to Fairbanks airport or downtown. Flight reservations to your home destination should be arranged preferably after 10:00 am. Please Note: all flights to/from or within Alaska are not included. Rest of the day on your own and tour extensions are readily available.
* Triple & Quad Accommodation are based on double occupancy in Coldfoot.
Ideal viewing time is approximately from 7 days prior to New Moon and until 7 days after New Moon. While some people may be concerned that a full moon is a problem, only weak aurora may be obstructed by the light of the moon, but in Alaska the aurora is frequently strong enough that aurora viewing is still possible on a moonlit night. As far as aurora photography goes, the aurora above a moonlit landscape actually tends to have a pleasing effect. On the whole, when participating in an aurora tour, one doesn’t need to be worried about the moon.The moon does not influence the aurora activity, the sky is just darker. You can therefore travel any time of the month.
New Moon Dates:
2013 - January 11, February 10, March 11, April 10, September 05, October 05, November 03, December 03, December 31
2014 - January 30, March 01, March 30, April 29, September 23, October 23, November 22, December 22
2015 - January 20, February 18, March 19, April 18, September 12, October 12, November 11, December 10
2016 - January 10, February 08, March 09, April 07, September 01, October 01, October 30, November 29, December 29
2017 - January 28, February 26, March 28, April 26, September 19, October 19, November 18, December 18
When you do your research for shooting the aurora, you’ll find pluses and minuses for going when a full moon is present. On the minus side is if the lights that night are somewhat faint, the brightness of the moon’s reflection of the sun can fade them out. On the other hand, a full moon can be used to illuminate objects in the foreground. Many aurora shots include buildings with lights on inside to provide an interesting foreground subject. Depending on your shooting location, this feature might not be available. However, a full moon will help light up anything you have in front of you, no matter where you are. Because shots are done for at least six to eight seconds and up to fifteen seconds or more (depending on your shutter and ISO settings), the full moon will do a great job of making what would otherwise be a silhouette into a well-lit subject. Conversely, if you choose to go when there isn’t a full moon, a strong flash can be helpful in popping light onto a foreground subject.
Q: When is the best time of the year to see the Aurora
A: In northern regions such as Alaska, the Yukon Territory, Northern British Columbia and the Northwest Territories - the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are seen from late August to mid April. Furthermore, during the autumn and spring, the weather is rather unstable and has a lower percentage of clear skies. Therefore, we have determined the best viewing seasons to be from mid-August to the end of September and from mid-November to mid-April. In This time of the year offers the best trade off between mild weather and dark skies. During the summer months, night skies are not dark enough to view the Aurora Borealis and in midwinter temperatures in the – 40 degree range make outdoor aurora viewing somewhat unpleasant. In other locations farther from the average aurora oval, the main consideration is the level of geomagnetic activity, which varies rather unpredictably through the year.
Q: When is the best time of the day
A: Within the most active regions of Alaska and prime viewing areas the Aurora oval typically becomes visible around local midnight. Note: this is an astronomical midnight - which may be an hour or two different from the civil or the “ wall clock “ midnight due to daylight savings time / peculiarities in your time zone. Spectacular Aurora displays due to geomagnetic disturbance may be seen at any time when the sky is dark, but they are relatively unpredictable. Under average conditions, observations around local midnight are most likely to yield results.
Q: What are the Temperatures in the Northern Regions
A: The average daily temperatures in February/March are approximately +20/-30 - equivalent to –8/-33 degrees Celsius.
Q: How to observe the Aurora
A: Yes, if you follow our recommendations you should enjoy some pleasant viewing.
Q: What causes the Aurora
A: Energetic charged particles from the magnetosphere. These particles are electrons and protons that are energized in the near geo-space environment. This energization process draws its energy from the interaction of the Earth's magnetosphere with the solar wind. The magnetosphere is a volume of space that surrounds the Earth. We have this magnetosphere because of Earth's internal magnetic field. This field extends to space until it is balanced by the solar wind.
Q: What is the altitude of the Aurora Borealis
A: The bottom edge is typically at 100 km (about 60 miles) altitude. The aurora extends over a very large altitude range. The altitude where the emission comes from depends on the energy of the energetic electrons that make the aurora. The more energy the bigger the punch, and the deeper the electron get into the atmosphere. Very intense aurora from high-energy electrons can be as low as 80 km (50 miles). The top of the visible aurora peters out at about 2-300 km (120-200 miles), sometimes high altitude aurora can be seen as high as 600 km (350 miles). This is about the altitude at which the space shuttle usually flies.
The solar wind is the outermost atmosphere of our sun. The sun is so hot that it boils off its outer layers, and the result is a constant outward expanding very thin gas. This solar wind consists not of atoms and molecules but of protons and electrons (this is called a plasma). Embedded in this solar wind is the magnetic field of the sun. The density is so low that we may well call it a vacuum. However tenuous it is, when this solar wind encounters a planet, it has to flow around it. When this planet has a magnetic field, the solar wind sees this magnetic field as an obstacle, as protons and electrons cannot move freely across a magnetic field. These charged particles are constrained to move almost always only along the magnetic field. Likewise, when they are forced to move in a specific direction, a magnetic field will move with them or will be bent into the direction of the flow. Whether the magnetic field forces the plasma motion or whether the plasma motion bends the magnetic field depends on the strength of the field and the force of the motion. When the solar wind encounters Earth's magnetic field, it will thus bend the field unless the field gets too strong. The strength of the magnetic field falls off with distance from Earth. The distance at which the solar wind and the magnetic field of the Earth balance each other is about 60,000 km away, or 1/10 of the distance to the moon. The inside of this volume that is bounded by the solar wind is called the magnetosphere. At the interface of the solar wind and the magnetosphere, energy can be transferred into the magnetosphere by a number of processes. Most effective is a process called reconnection. When the magnetic field in the solar wind and the magnetic field of the magnetosphere are anti-parallel, the fields can melt together, and the solar wind can drag the magnetospheres field and plasma along. This is very efficient in energizing magnetospheres plasma. Eventually, the magnetosphere responds by dumping electrons and protons into the high latitude upper atmosphere where the energy of the plasma can be dissipated. This then results in aurora. Here is an animation (1.6Mb) that illustrates this process.
Q: How do I take the best pictures
A: For the first -time or for seasoned aurora photographer, a 35 mm camera on a tripod equipped with a cable release is a must. Use a wide-angle 24 mm to 50 mm lens and set it to an f-stop which is the fastest – or one slower to avoid distortion of bright star images – usually f/1.4 – f/2.8.
Q: Can I videotape the Aurora
A: Videotaping the aurora generally takes highly specialized video equipment. Generally – camcorders are not sensitive enough to see the aurora, though a few will record a faint, smoky image given a sufficiently bright aurora. Your best bet for video showing the color and motion of the aurora is to purchase a professionally – recorded tape such as one distributed form the Geophysical Institute in Fairbanks. Thus, some home video cameras are capable of picking up bright auroras. In particular, a camera rated at for example: less than one-lux sensitivity has captured – faintly and colorlessly a bright auroral arc. Many cameras which have special features such as digital zoom and / or vibration compensation are much less sensitive and will not show the aurora. The most annoying problem with home video cameras in low-light situations is their inability to focus. If your camera has a focus-lock button, you may be able to focus on a distant, brightly-lit object, and lock the focus then see if you can pick up the moon or perhaps catch a hint of an extremely bright aurora. Just don’t expect much, because home video cameras aren’t designed to do low-light recording.
Q: Flights to Alaska
A: Alaska -, Continental -, United -, Delta Airlines and US Airways are providing multiple flight connections daily to Anchorage and Fairbanks from the lower 48's. For current rates please refer to: Alaska Airlines or other airlines and any ticket reservation systems of your choice. Sorry, but we do not provide a reservation service for airlines tickets. Our advertised tour rates do not include flights to/from Alaska.
Q: Recommended Clothing
A: We recommend fleece or heavy wool sweaters, down jackets or similar cold weather gear with attached hood, gloves, sun glasses, swimsuit, wool shirts, cotton or thermal underwear, mittens, sturdy winter boots, lip balsam, moisturizing cream. Winter gear and clothing may be rented at your local outdoor stores or at REI - Recreational Equipment INC - in Anchorage (please contact the stores directly) More Information
A: Meals are not included in our tours (except as otherwise stated within each "Tour Included" section) The cities of Fairbanks and Anchorage are providing a large number of restaurants in all categories. Our lodges and resorts are providing a dining room/restaurant with a extended food and drink selection.
Q: Sightseeing Tours
A: Sightseeing tours are not included in our tour packages (except as otherwise stated within each "Tour Included" section) Thus, we do offer a variety of optional tours. Please contact us
Q: Advance Reservation
A: This is hard to predict but if you travel during: (1) New Moon Dates (2) Holidays (3) Long Weekends (4) Alaska Events etc. tours are most likely sold out and it will be virtually impossible to materialize a last minute request. Accordingly it is highly advisable to book as early as possible.