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crazy4Hawaii Apr 11th, 2005 07:22 AM

northern lights tours
Has anyone taken one of the northern lights tours? There are several offered that go to Chena Springs and other places via Fairbanks - and others that go to the Yukon instead of Alaska. Would late March be too late to expect good aurora borealis activity?

wolfie11 Apr 11th, 2005 09:23 AM

Late March is a good time to see the auroras - and it's not as cold out! Anywhere around Fairbanks away from the city lights is good. I really like Chena Hot Springs. You can float around in the outdoor pool and watch the lights overhead. March is also the month for the Fairbanks Winter Carnival, the North American sled dog championships, the ice carving championships, and many other events.

crazy4Hawaii Apr 11th, 2005 10:38 AM

Are there other lodgings available outside of town - other than Chena Hot Springs Resort? I'd rather not have to drive to see the lights. I have nothing against the resort - just reviewing my options. Would anyone recommend the Yukon (e.g. Whithorse area) over Fairbanks area for viewing aurora?

tom22 Apr 11th, 2005 11:34 AM

In theory you can see northern lights every night arround the year, but clouds, snow fall, fog and disturbing lights (sunshine, towns) can prevent a good view. You should reserve some spare days in case of bad weather. Good viewing month are September/October and March. Best viewing locations are always close to the artic cycle. A good viewing further down in the south is dependent on the intension of the sun eruptions. At current stat it is possible to predict the northern light intension one day in advance.

BudgetQueen Apr 11th, 2005 01:12 PM

I have gone to Fairbanks the last 2 March's. I was so sorry to see my favorite lodging go out of business that had full aurora views. IF you do not want to go out at night you need to be very selective in your location. NONE of the Fairbanks locations will be suitable. I have gone out in my rental car with my favorite spot on the Steese, past the Chena Hot Springs exit over the hill, then just pull over on the side of the road. The great thing about March is good amount of daylight, dusk at 7pm and decent weather, although I did hit a few -25 nights. I stay for 2 weeks, which is needed if aurora is the priority. The Ice Sculpture championships are worth the trip alone. I fill my days with dog sledding and snowmobiling. The Fairbanks library is top notch for internet access and a huge local book section. A lot of so so food. :) With the Fred Meyer salad/food bars my pick for several lunches. :) I have been to Chena Hot Springs- the former owners were superior to the present in my opinion. Be certain to take an old bathing suit- it'll change funky colors. :)

BudgetQueen Apr 11th, 2005 01:14 PM

Yellow knife has a big aurora viewing tourist base. Whitehorse maybe???

crazy4Hawaii Apr 11th, 2005 02:36 PM

BudgetQueen -
Please let me know if you find another good place outside of Fairbanks to stay. Sure would be nice not to have to drive! Thank you.

crazy4Hawaii Apr 11th, 2005 06:34 PM

What about A Taste of Alaska Lodge?

BudgetQueen Apr 12th, 2005 02:01 PM

A Taste of Alaska Lodge is a good location. Also Fox Creek B&B, if going to Chena Hot Springs be sure to take an old suit, you can suffer some funky color changes. :)

karinw Apr 12th, 2005 06:49 PM

We made a trip to Alaska during February school vacation last year to see the Aurora. Unfortunately, the viewing was not great.

We did head out to Chena Hot Springs for a few days and did their tour out to a high elevation in a large vehicle (with loads of Japanese tourists - I didn't realize so much of the tourist business is from Japanese) Anyway, we were supposed to stay out all night but we were freezing and bored because there was cloud coverage and there was hardly no chance to see anyting. But, the Japanese had staying power and were all set up with their cameras. We tried to stay warm in the yurt set up. It was all actually quite comical as I tried to convince a group of us to go back down early in one of the vehicles.

Chena was just ok in my opinion. The facilities were run down and the staff was only fair. It was a great thrill to be in 20 below temperatures and be in a bathing suit in the hotspring but other than that I would pass.

Our best part of the trip was heading up to Bettles Lodge beyond the Arctic Circle. The people there were fantastic. We loved hanging out at the lodge with our pilot and the manager. We learned so much! We went flight seeing, dog sledding, and snow machining. Our kids loved it too. I can't say enough about the staff and the accomodations at Bettles Lodge.

Unfortunately, the aurora viewing wasn't much better there either. We would try to stay up all night for prime viewing opportunities but it wasn't to be our luck.

crazy4Hawaii Apr 12th, 2005 07:28 PM

Bummer! It's a long and expensive trip to not get ANY luck out of the lights. I've been hearing VERY mixed reviews about Chena Hot Springs Lodge.

I laughed about your experience with the gung ho Japanese. They do have excellent taste. - They love all of the same places I do (Disney World, Hawaii, and Alaska)!

markmark Apr 18th, 2005 09:53 PM

Have done both Chena Hot Springs and Bettles Lodge. No question.. Bettles is a better place to view the Aurora. It is right outside your door.. no driving etc.. Plus the Bettles Lodge is GREAT! Enjoyed it much more than Chena.

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