I think a lot of people are put-off by the idea of visiting Fairbanks in the winter because of the cold temperatures. Ok, I won’t lie, it’s freaking cold here. How cold? Well, I managed to get minor frostbite twice while opening doors with metal handles. I’m a little concerned that they still have door handles made of metal, but, ok. Oh, and its dark too. Really dark. At the worst, the Sun will rise at 11am and set at 2:40pm. I bet you’re ready to buy those tickets to Fairbanks in January right now, eh?
Seriously, I knew that mushing was popular here, but I had no idea the extent. If you visit Fairbanks in the winter (which includes most of fall and spring), chances are pretty good that there’s a race happening. There are small races almost any weekend it’s warm enough at the ADMA. Lot’s of them are short sprints, you know, 12-20 miles. But, there are some big races too. Next year the Yukon Quest will be starting in Fairbanks (en route to Whithorse, YT). It’s a grueling 1000 mile race across some of the craziest, coldest terrain in the world.
Every March the Open North American Championship is held here. This is a great race over three days. The first two days are twenty mile races, and the last day is a thirty mile sprint. It’s awesome to see the dogs, they love to run more than anything! The cool thing about this race is that it goes over the river and through the woods and then right through downtown Fairbanks!
And if there’s no race, don’t worry you’ll almost definitely have some kind of an experience like Kate and I had shortly after the first serious full snowfall (back in the beginning of October). We see them running alongside the roads all the time!
The fact that it’s night here most of the time in winter does have one great benefit:
We see a lot of Aurora. If you haven’t seen the aurora above 60° latitude, you haven’t seen the aurora. It is a reason to come here in the winter all by itself.
A number of places offer ‘tours’ where you can go out to ‘viewing’ spots to see the northern lights. Chena Hot Springs does it (we didn’t pay the money for it though, we see them all the time). There are a number of other outfits that will get you away from the city lights where the viewing is superb. Or, just drive north.