By Maura Sullivan
If you haven’t lived in Fairbanks all your life, or are a “Sourdough” as they are called, you might be looking at these increasingly colder temperatures and wondering what in the world people do up here during the winter. We are currently averaging about four hours of daylight, which doesn’t leave much time to enjoy the outdoors if you have a busy class schedule. Here are some things that you can do if you’re staying in Fairbanks over winter break!
See the Northern Lights! If you haven’t already, go out for a walk on a cold, clear night with a few friends, a thick coat and a thermos of hot chocolate! Seeing the Aurora Borealis is one of the most worthwhile reasons of living in Alaska, and if you see a color other than green, it is one of the best experiences one can have. The NOAA website has a really great Aurora forecast, that updates about every 30 minutes of so.
Get a great workout and enjoy some cross country skiing at Birch Hill! Located on Wilderness Drive, the area offers extensive and challenging cross country ski trails for use.
If you prefer downhill skiing and snowboarding, you can “shred some pow” at the Moose Mountain Ski Resort. Birch Hill is open Monday through Sunday, and Moose Mountain is open November through February.
Since you are UAF students, you have free entry to the Museum of the North, that really cool iceberg looking building on campus, past the Reichhardt building. While there you can enjoy a cup of coffee from ACRC while looking out the window at the beautiful Brooks Range. You can also check out the various exhibits in the museum, including the new dinosaur exhibit, the Aurora Room, the Gallery of Alaska, and the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery. You can also get a wonderful Alaskan-made souvenir from the gift shop, and watch the 30 minute movies that all about the geographic and historical aspects of Alaska. On December 31st from 7-9pm you can watch the fireworks at West Ridge, and enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies in the museum.
Take a drive or cab ride out to Chena Hot Springs. This may be a little pricy, but in the winter, it is one of the best places to enjoy the Northern Lights and get a wonderful soak in the natural hot springs. They’re open everyday from 7am till midnight. You can also book massage appointments, eat at the restaurant and visit the bar if you’re 21. You can also visit the Ice Museum, which features amazing ice sculptures in the constant 25 ˚F. Perks for those who are 21, you can drink a martini made out of a glass carved from ice!
Visit LARS, the large animal research station. Located off of Ballaine road, near the University, you can see muskox and reindeer, as well as some of their cute calves!