It’s “Aurora Season” in Alaska’s Far North

In Alaska Travelgram by scott

Photo by Amy J. Johnson

While the days are getting shorter, the nights are getting brighter. That’s especially true north of Fairbanks. Northern Alaska Tour Company has vans and planes that go up and down the Dalton Highway (Haul Road) every day. Check out the pictures…then pick one of these trips and plan your Aurora Adventure today!

Photo by Amy Johnson, taken in the “Enchanted Forest” near the Yukon River on the Dalton Hwy.

Aurora Adventure. This is for the serious aurora-hunters. The best strategy to see the northern lights is to hang out for a few days in a prime location (Coldfoot). My friends at Northern Alaska Tour Company say Coldfoot is just in the right place, the “Arctic Oval,” where the lights are born! “If it’s clear outside and the lights are active, you’re going to see them in Coldfoot,” said co-owner Brett Carlson. Hey–I’ve seen ’em there! Your adventure includes:
Road trip north from Fairbanks to Coldfoot. You’re on the Haul Road (Dalton Highway), so you’ll be going parallel to the Trans Alaska Pipeline the whole way. That includes crossing the mighty Yukon River on the ONLY bridge across the river in Alaska. Cross the Arctic Circle in ceremonial style! There are plenty of stops to view the landscape, take pictures and yes, use the rest room.
Accommodations at Coldfoot Camp. It’s actually called the “Slate Creek Inn.” This is the location of the U.S.’s farthest-north truck stop. The food is great!
Northern lights viewing in nearby Wiseman, Alaska. Local citizen-scientist Jack Reakoff is a wealth of information (and yes, entertainment). Bring your tripod for your camera. Get an iphone app for northern lights photos.
Flight back to Fairbanks from Coldfoot. Fabulous views!

Cost: Three days/two nights from $869 per person, double occupancy. You can stay longer, too. Many folks do. OPTIONAL TOURS: “Road Safari” up to Atigun Pass. This is an awesome trip to Alaska’s highest highway pass. “Mush, You Huskies!” OK, that’s not the name of the mushing excursion, but it sounds nice. Visit the dog lot, ride in the sled–the works.

I took this photo at Jack Reakoff’s place in Wiseman.

Arctic Circle Fly/Drive. This is a great trip…sort of an extended “there-and-back-again.” Take the northbound road trip. Again–it’s a trip up the Haul Road with folks who know the territory. You’ll arrive in Coldfoot after crossing the mighty Yukon River and the Arctic Circle. Just in time for a nice dinner at the Coldfoot Cafe. GET THE TOUR to Jack’s place in Wiseman. This is “night life” in Coldfoot! You’re well-positioned to see the best-of-the-best aurora borealis! You’ll be up late…then you can sleep in at the “Slate Creek Inn” in Coldfoot.

We took a “Safari” up to Atigun Pass. Look closely and you can see the road snaking up between the mountains…and the pipeline on the right.

Cost: $799-$859 per person, double. Price varies based on when you travel.

Fly with Air Arctic between Coldfoot and Fairbanks.

Homestead Aurora Tour. Join your guide in Fairbanks for the drive north to the community of Joy, Alaska. Located on the Elliott Highway, this “homestead” is far off the beaten path and–more importantly–far away from the lights of the city. Depart Fairbanks about 9:00pm. Arrive at around 11:30pm for the light show! The “Arctic Circle Trading Post” is your cozy base to hang out while waiting for the aurora to appear. Enjoy hot drinks and warm hospitality. Head back to Fairbanks at about 2:00 a.m., arriving between 3:30-4:30 a.m.

Cost: $119 per person.

The fall colors from a few weeks ago on the Dalton Highway north of the Yukon River.

Details: Call Northern Alaska Tour Company at (800) 474-1986, or visit the website.

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