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Holiday lights illuminating a snowy Pioneer Park in Fairbanks, Alaska
Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
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Winter brings Fairbanks to life with snow sports, ice art and northern lights.

Make the trip north to Fairbanks, Alaska, in winter and you’ll be treated to one of the most magical snowy landscapes in the USA. Majestic mountains covered in sparkling white powder, snow-blanketed backcountry trails and the unforgettable lights of the aurora borealis await those adventurous enough to make Fairbanks their winter holiday destination.

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

It’s one of the most popular reasons people visit Fairbanks in the winter. The aurora borealis, also called the northern lights, is a natural phenomenon that paints the night sky in mystical shades of green, yellow and red, morphing in the atmosphere like a living painting. Aurora Season is from Aug. 21st to April 21st. There are a variety of special tours and viewing stations to witness this natural lightshow. Some hotels will even wake you up when the northern lights appear!

Keep an eye on the Aurora Tracker, which observes six different sites to help you maximize your chances of seeing the aurora.

Gazing up at the aurora borealis during a full moon

Gazing up at the aurora borealis during a full moon
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Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
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Snow Sports: Skiing, Snowshoeing and More

Whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a casual skier, Fairbanks has a snow sport for you. For downhill skiing and snowboarding, there are multiple slopes and ski areas, offering equipment rentals, classes and one-on-one instruction. Prefer something a little more rugged? Local guides can take you out to the best spots on a cross-country ski trip. If you’re not into high-impact sports, try snowshoeing, sledding and tubing.

Stunning views through the trees during a Fairbanks winter sports excursion

Stunning views through the trees during a Fairbanks winter sports excursion
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Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
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Dog Sledding

Dog sledding isn’t just exciting; it’s an integral part of Alaska Native history and culture. Experience it first-hand on a dog sledding (also called mushing) adventure, where a team of Alaskan Huskies will pull you through beautiful, forested terrain. Tours can range from a one-hour excursion to multi-day trips in the vast Alaskan wilderness. Some outfitters offer dog-sledding lessons where you’ll learn how to harness and lead a team of trained sled dogs.

A team of sled dogs gliding across the snowy landscape

A team of sled dogs gliding across the snowy landscape
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Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks
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Ice Fishing

King salmon, Arctic grayling, chinook, rainbow trout and Arctic char are just some of the prized fish you can catch on an ice-fishing trip in Fairbanks. Knowledgeable guides will set you up in a heated cabin or tent at prime ice fishing spots. After you hook a fish, grill your catch right in the cabin!

Chena Hot Springs

You can never get too warm in an Alaskan winter. Head out to Chena Hot Springs, located 100 kilometers northeast of Fairbanks, where you’ll soak in mineral-rich, 41-degree Celsius waters. The resort also offers accommodations, aurora viewing, outdoor activities and the Aurora Ice Museum.

The Chena River in winter

The Chena River in winter
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Sherman Hogue/Explore Fairbanks

Ice Art

During the winter months, ice artists express their unique form in stunning ice sculptures found throughout Fairbanks. Check out Christmas in Ice from November to January or the World Ice Art Championships in February and March. The Fairbanks Ice Museum is located downtown and is open year-round.

Illuminated ice sculptures on display in Fairbanks

Illuminated ice sculptures on display in Fairbanks
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Todd Paris

Getting There

From a variety of major destinations, you can fly into Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) and pick up a rental car, shuttle or taxi for easy transport.