fairbanks northern lights tours

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The 5 Best Fairbanks Northern Light Tours

Alaska, the Last Frontier, beckons with its untamed beauty and the celestial spectacle of the aurora borealis. In the velvet darkness of its expansive night skies, the Northern Lights unfold in a symphony of color and movement, a phenomenon that has captivated storytellers and adventurers alike.

With over 45 years in Alaska specializing in travel and tourism I’m no stranger to the natural wonders this amazing state has to offer. And the Northern Lights is perhaps one of the most magical.

In this article we will take you on a luminous journey through the best Fairbanks Northern Light tours in Alaska, where nature’s own theater opens its curtains to one of the most breathtaking shows on Earth.

From the comfort of a warm cabin to the exhilarating chill of a midnight chase on a snow-dusted highway, we’ll guide you through the experiences that promise not just a glimpse, but a full embrace of Alaska’s most magical nights.

If you don’t want to read the entire article, here are our
top picks for Fairbanks Northern Lights Tours

our #1 pick
fairbanks northern lights tour

Northern Lights Chena Hot Springs Tour

  • Great reviews
  • Hot springs
  • Free cancellation
our #2 pick
northern lights fairbanks tour

Arctic Circle Northern Lights Tour

  • Most remote
  • Small group
  • Dalton highway
#3 Pick
best fairbanks northern light tours

Chena Lake: Aurora Borealis Viewing & Ice Fishing

  • Two experiences in one
  • Quiet & secluded
  • Best views

What Are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, are a natural light display that is predominantly seen in the high-latitude regions around the Arctic and Antarctic. These spectacular displays occur when charged particles from the sun enter Earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen.

The particles are drawn towards the poles by Earth’s magnetic field, which is why the aurora typically occurs near the polar regions. The colors of the aurora, which can range from greens and pinks to purples and blues, are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common color, a pale green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.

The best time to see the Northern Lights is during long, dark nights, which means they are often more visible during the winter months. Solar activity also plays a significant role; periods of high solar activity can lead to more intense and more frequent auroral displays.

While often unpredictable, the Northern Lights are a bucket-list phenomenon for many travelers and photographers, offering an unforgettable spectacle that showcases the beauty and wonder of our planet.

When it comes to northern lights tours Fairbanks ranks high amongst world destinations to see this natural wonder.

Pro Tip: Did you know you can see the Northern Lights from the lower 48 states? Here are the best places to see Northern Lights in the lower 48.

When Is The Best Time To See The Northern Lights In Alaska

The best time of year to see the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, in Alaska is during the colder months when the nights are longest and skies are darkest. This typically spans from late September to early April.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

Late September to Mid-November

This period can be ideal as the weather is not as harsh as in the deep winter, and there are fewer tourists. However, snowfall might not be as heavy, which means landscapes might be less dramatically white if that’s part of the desired vista.

December to March

These are the core months of winter, with the longest nights providing the most extended periods of darkness. In the heart of winter, the skies tend to be clearer, and snow-covered landscapes offer a stunning reflection of the auroral lights. However, these are also the coldest months, with temperatures often dropping significantly, which should be taken into consideration when planning a viewing trip.

Late March to Early April

The weather starts to warm up slightly, and the days get longer, but there are still significant dark hours. The tail end of the season can still provide excellent opportunities for viewing the aurora, particularly during the equinox in March, which is often associated with higher solar activity.

Keep in mind that the aurora is a natural phenomenon, and its visibility can be affected by solar activity and local weather conditions. It’s often recommended to plan a stay of several days to increase the chances of witnessing this natural wonder. Additionally, aurora forecasts and solar activity reports can be checked to improve the chances of seeing the Northern Lights.

The Best Fairbanks Northern Lights Tours

I’ve picked my favorite Northern Lights tours based on reviews, price, and experience. An important thing to consider when booking an experience like these is the fact that seeing the Northern Lights is not a for sure thing.

That’s why I really like the experiences that included other things like hot springs or ice fishing so no matter what you are getting something for your money.

1. Northern Lights and Chena Hot Springs Tour from Fairbanks

⭐️RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars (700+ Reviews) ⎸ ⏳TOUR LENGTH: 10 hours

Why choose this tour? Experience two of Fairbanks top attractions

Unlock a day of Fairbanks’ finest attractions with this cozy small-group excursion. Begin your cultural foray at the Fairbanks Ice Museum, marveling at the intricate sculptures and carvings crafted by ice-sculpting maestros. Continue your journey as you’re shuttled to the tranquil haven of Chena Hot Springs Resort.

Here, relax your senses in the soothing mineral springs, luxuriate in the bubbly hot tubs, or swim in the comfort of the indoor pool. As an added delight, savor the taste of local Alaskan cuisine (purchased separately). And, if the skies are clear, the magical aurora borealis might just grace your evening dip with its vivid display, creating a truly unforgettable experience.

What’s included in this tour:

  • Small-group tour of Chena Hot Springs Resort and the Fairbanks Ice Museum
  • Soak in the outdoor hot mineral springs, hot tubs, or indoor pool
  • See the aurora borealis at one of the best viewing locations in the area
  • Round-trip transport from Fairbanks and North Pole hotels provided

2. Arctic Circle and Northern Lights Tour from Fairbanks

northern lights fairbanks tour

⭐️RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars (580+ Reviews) ⎸ ⏳TOUR LENGTH: 12 hours

Why choose this tour? Most remote and off the beaten path

Set off on a unique adventure with this small-group excursion, taking you through the heart of Alaskan wilderness on the Dalton Highway, one of the most secluded roads in the world. Departing from Fairbanks, this tour carries you to the very brink of the Arctic Circle.

As night descends and you journey back, remain vigilant for the mesmerizing display of the Northern Lights, an unforgettable sight to cap off an incredible trek into the wild.

What’s included in this tour:

  • Afternoon and nighttime tour from Fairbanks to the Arctic Circle
  • Travel the remote Dalton Highway, seen in Ice Road Truckers
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off, food, and warm drinks included
  • Small-group tour limited to 8 people provides a more personalized experience

3. Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis Viewing) Chasing with Photography in Fairbanks

northern lights tour

⭐️RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars (235+ Reviews) ⎸ ⏳TOUR LENGTH: 3 hours

Why choose this tour? Photos included

Delve into the nocturnal wonders of Alaska with this evening adventure designed to chase the elusive aurora borealis. Setting out from Fairbanks as the night matures, you’ll journey into the serene depths of the Alaskan forest, seeking spots untouched by light pollution.

When the skies light up with the vibrant hues of the aurora, your guide will be ready to snap photographs of your group against the backdrop of the dancing lights, ensuring these magical moments are captured for you to treasure indefinitely.

What’s included in this tour:

  • Let someone else capture photos in the tricky lighting
  • Chase the northern lights through rural Alaska
  • Hassle-free transfers from your Fairbanks hotel
  • A small group means more attention from your guide

4. Chena Lake: Aurora Borealis Viewing & Ice Fishing Adventure

⭐️RATING: 4.7 out of 5 Stars ⎸ ⏳TOUR LENGTH: 5 hours

Why choose this tour? Two activities in one

Embark on a five-hour escapade into the heart of Alaska’s frost-kissed landscape. Your journey takes you to the Chena Lake Recreation Area, where the thrills of ice fishing blend seamlessly with the serene pursuit of the aurora borealis, all from the comfort of a warm, inviting cabin.

Your guide leads you to this cozy retreat, a snug shelter against the crisp Alaskan chill, equipped with floor covers that reveal the icy waters below – your gateway to an authentic ice-fishing experience.

Warm your spirits with steaming cups of hot cocoa and savor the local flavors of reindeer sausage nestled in buns, freshly delivered from Anchorage for your enjoyment. While you grill your snack inside the cabin, your guide will equip you with all the fishing gear you need and share expert advice on how to successfully hook and haul fish from the freezing depths.

Celebrate the thrill of the catch with a fresh fish cookout, where you can taste the fruits of your labor. This tour is committed to conservation through sustainable fishing practices, allowing each participant to savor one fish on site or take one home. The remainder of the catch is released back into the lake’s ecosystem, ensuring future anglers can enjoy similar experiences. Throughout your adventure, you’ll be angling for an array of fish, including King Salmon, Arctic Grayling, Rainbow Trout, and Arctic Char, adding to the rich tapestry of your Alaskan adventure.

What’s included in this tour:

  • Watch the magical aurora dance and ice fish in a heated cabin
  • Munch on reindeer sausage and sip hot cocoa as fish tug on your line
  • Enjoy a fish cookout with your fresh catch
  • Deluxe ice fishing cabin with electricity and heat

5. Aurora Husky Lodge

fairbanks northern lights tours

⭐️RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars (124+ Reviews) ⎸ ⏳TOUR LENGTH: 5 hours

Why choose this tour? Enjoy a cozy cabin while waiting for the Northern Lights

For a snug and personalized Northern Lights adventure, your search ends here. Your experience begins with a convenient pickup from your Fairbanks hotel, whisking you away to a charming rustic cabin perched atop a ridge with sweeping views of the Alaska Mountains.

Settle in and stay toasty with steaming hot cocoa, coffee, and an assortment of snacks as you anticipate the sky’s nocturnal performance. Then, simply relax and take in the spectacle. While the aurora borealis is a natural marvel and its appearance is subject to the whims of nature, this cozy setting provides the perfect stage for witnessing the dazzling display should the conditions align.

What’s included in this tour:

  • Hassle-free transfers to and from your Fairbanks hotel
  • Experience the Aurora Husky Lodge, high on a mountain ridge for great views
  • Eat, drink, and stay cozy while you wait for the northern lights

Alaskan Northern Lights

As we wrap up our journey through the ethereal world of the Alaskan Northern Lights, it’s clear that whether you’re cozied up in a rustic cabin with a hot drink in hand, standing on the icy expanse of a frozen lake, or journeying down the secluded Dalton Highway, Alaska offers some of the most magnificent stages for the celestial dance of the aurora borealis.

These tours not only bring you face-to-face with the shimmering night skies but also offer a slice of Alaskan life through cultural immersion and natural wonder. Remember, while the aurora may be elusive, the memories you make under the Arctic sky, the stories you’ll take home, and the thrill of the chase are as real and vivid as the Northern Lights themselves. So, bundle up, venture out, and let Alaska’s night sky tell you its ancient, starry story.

Written by Audrey Hines

Audrey is an Alaskan born native with a love for travel and tourism. With over 45 years in Alaska she is no stranger to this massive space full of some of the worlds most magical places.

What is the best month to see the northern lights in Fairbanks?

Late September to Mid-October: This period can be ideal as the weather is not as harsh as in the deep winter, and there are fewer tourists.

Do you need a tour to see northern lights in Fairbanks?

You do not need a tour to see the Northern Lights in alaska but a tour can be very helpful by getting you to the best locations for viewing.

Is Iceland or Fairbanks better for northern lights?

Fairbanks offers better chances for seeing the Northern Lights than Reykjavik due to better chances of clearer skies.

What time of day are northern lights most visible?

The strongest Northern Lights tend to be between 9pm and 2am

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