Winter Activities Abound
Fairbanks winters may have a reputation for being too cold and dark for humans to
function, let alone have any fun, but there is plenty to do here even in the winter.
Winter temperatures can plummet to 40 below zero, especially
during December, January and February. But those extreme temperatures are more the
exception than the rule, and seldom hold more than a week at a time. Temperatures have
been known to be -20 one day and +20 the next.
The average temperature for December is about 8 below, for January, 10 below and
for February, 4 below. The average temperatures during March through November are above
Follow the link for more information and complete March schedule.
While light may be a bit scarce during the winter months,
the sun is never gone for an entire day in the interior, so there is plenty of time to
enjoy the outdoors. And it is the dark that allows us to see the Aurora Borealis so well! Chena Hot Springs Resort has a
special aurorium especially for
aurora viewing, and several other places do as well.
Fairbanks has many cross country ski trails and several area businesses offer rental
of ski equipment. We have some very active skiing clubs, check our Events Calendar, Sports, for more information.
For those who enjoy downhill skiing, Fairbanks has two downhill
skiing areas, all with equipment rental available and comparable prices.
Moose Mountain Ski Resort is only 20
minutes from Fairbanks.
Mushing is another favorite Alaska experience. Several
local kennels offer dog sled rides, and mushing instruction (see our Dog Mushing
page). And when mushing and skiing meet, the result is skijoring, where a
harnessed sled dog pulls a skier, and sometimes, a sled and skier.
For those with the need for speed, Fairbanks winters are
perfect for revving up the snowmachine and taking off cross-country. Snowmachines are
available for rent from local businesses as well.
The Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic is a favorite winter
competition, though it is not for the faint of heart. The 5.5 mile event, held in April,
involves skiers hurtling down a mountainside, then being pulled to the top by a
snowmachine, then speeding downhill again to the finish line. See our
events calendar for specific dates.
Though some outdoor tour groups offer winter clothing, it
is advisable to pack your own just in case. You can get winter clothing at an affordable price through the
outlet. Warm hand, foot and headwear are important. An
important rule of thumb to remember when dressing for Fairbanks outdoor fun is: layer your
clothing. Fairbanksans have learned that several loose layers of clothing work best to
keep out the cold, and then, if the temperature rises, a layer can be removed.
Winter Advice for Chechakos
We thought you might like this web site, Living
in Extreme Cold, built by school children in Fairbanks, which gives
advice for surviving our winters. It won an award in an international
Spectator Winter Sports
Yukon Quest Sled Dog Race
For those who would rather observe than participate in
winter sports, opportunities for that exist as well. In February, mushers competing in the
Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race will
leave from Fairbanks or Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and arrive at the other city about 10
days and 1,000 miles later. Fairbanks also hosts the Limited North American Championship
and the Open North American Sled Dog Races in March.
Learn about Mushing
There are dog mushing displays in the Fairbanks Community Museum downtown, at the
Public Lands Information Center, and at the
University of Alaska Museum.
The locally owned Sun Dog Express
offers a half day dog mushing clinic, for those who want to learn
how to do it themselves.
One interesting winter sport for the early spring (breakup
time) is river watching - specifically, betting on the Nenana Ice Classic. For $2 you can have a shot at
winning thousands ($300,000 in 1998) by guessing the date and time of the Breakup of the
Tanana River as measured in the town of Nenana.
Ice Carving Championships
A combination of outdoor recreation and artistic beauty is
captured every year at the annual ice carving championships,
scheduled for March. Ice carvers from around the world gather in Fairbanks to
fashion elaborate sculptures out of crystal-clear ice. For a small fee
visitors can wander through the outdoor display of the glistening creations.
During the earlier part of the winter, many are happy to pay to have the
carvers practice by carving sculptures for outside their businesses.
Curling, or "shuffleboard on ice" is popular in Fairbanks. The Fairbanks Curling Club
hosts events throughout the winter season. For more information, check our
sports calendar or call (907) 452-2875.
Indoor Winter Activities
For those who would rather NOT experience winter at all,
there are many indoor activities available. There are museums, gift shops and art
galleries, as well as many performing arts events. Plays, ballets, concerts, and recitals
occur throughout the year. Annually recurring events can be found on our
Natural Hot Tubs
You might want to get a way from it all and experience winter from a hot tub at one of the
local spas. Check out our page on Interior Hot Springs
for more information. Visitors have at least four hot springs to choose from, with more
amenities available the closer they are to town.
A Final Word
In addition to the many activities available to Fairbanks
winter visitors, there are other advantages to traveling to Fairbanks during the
Accommodations in the area are generally easy to come by during the winter, while
during the summer finding a hotel with an open room can sometimes be next to impossible,
especially if you arrive in the late evening. The rooms are generally less expensive
during the winter as well.
Museums, gift shops and restaurants, while certainly nice
during the summer, will be far less crowded during the winter, allowing for a more
leisurely perusal of the contents of the building, and for a chance to chat with a local
resident who is not in a harried state.
For more information about winter events and activities in Fairbanks, contact the
Fairbanks Convention and
Visitors Bureau at their log cabin by the river on First Avenue, or by
calling (907) 456-5774. An electronic daily calendar of events is available year 'round at