It’s hard to believe that the Arctic Circle is within reach of a major US city. But travelers to Fairbanks, Alaska, can get there for the weekend or even a day. Here’s where to go for a first-hand experience of the world’s northernmost circle of latitude—and the magical northern lights.
From Fairbanks you’ll journey up the Dalton Highway, one of the “loneliest roads in the world,” to where the Arctic Circle begins. Along the way you can see the famous Trans-Alaska Pipeline, the mighty Yukon River, and the local wildlife and peaceful landscapes that make this such a beautiful place to visit. Your guide will inform you about Alaska’s arctic geology and indigenous Eskimo culture, and you’ll have a shot at seeing the northern lights (aurora borealis).
Arctic Circle Northern Lights Tours
If seeing the northern lights is your main goal and you’ve come at the right time of year, a dedicated small-group northern lights tour is your top choice. Traveling the highway during afternoon and evening, guides know the best spots and times to see the celestial phenomenon, whether by land or air. Some tours include a visit to outdoor hot mineral springs and the Aurora Ice Museum.
Things to Know
While northern lights sightings are never guaranteed, the best time of year to try to see them is September to March.
Though Alaska tour company vans are climate-controlled, it’s best to dress warmly for comfort in the cold climate.
Tours can last 10 to 16 hours, depending on what is included.
Tours that include one-way by scenic flight offer more time on the ground at the Arctic Circle while still allowing you to see stellar views of the arctic tundra by road.