Posted by: RasmaSandra | November 22, 2022

Fabulous Fairbanks

On our armchair travels across the US, we have arrived in the US state of Alaska, in the Western US on the northwest extremity of North America. The state borders the Canadian province of British Columbia and the Yukon territory to the east. It shares a maritime border with the Russian Federation’s Chukotka Autonomous Okrug to the west, just across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas of the Arctic Ocean. To the south and southwest is the Pacific Ocean.

Our first stop is Fairbanks, which is the largest and coldest city in the Interior region of Alaska and the second largest in the state. It is less than 200 miles from the Arctic Circle.

Running Reindeer Ranch offers great tours on a private Fairbanks ranch that showcases family-owned reindeer. Reindeer-led tours take you through a boreal forest, and tour guides give information on the region’s natural history and the lives of the animals. Seasonal tours highlight the region’s aurora borealis and the organic vegetable and perennial gardens of the ranch. On a reservation-only tour, light refreshments are offered to all guests.

McKinley Explorer is a part of the largest dome railcar fleet in Alaska. It is operated by Princess Cruises and Holland America Line. Ten cars of the McKinley Explorer carry 88 passengers each aboard the train’s upper-level dome sections. This offers travelers a fantastic 360-degree view of the wilderness from the rooftop dome windows. Tour guides comment on the scenery between Anchorage and Denali National Park. The whole trip takes eight hours. On the lower level of the train is a restaurant and an outdoor viewing platform.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is a public research university. It serves as the flagship campus of the University of Alaska System. The campus has a variety of activities and facilities for students, community members, and visitors. It has two lakes and several miles of walking and biking trails.

The Rasmuson Library is the state’s largest public research library.

The Wood Center has a pub and bowling alley.

The University of Alaska Museum of the North is one of Fairbank’s premiere museums. It offers a variety of exhibits that are related to notable people and places of the state. The museum is designed to evoke the landscape of Alaska. It has design elements that mimic the state’s alpine mountains, glaciers, and rivers. One of the highlights here is the Rose Berry Alaska Art Gallery, which offers a collection of artworks by Alaskan artists throughout history, from ancient indigenous carvings to contemporary art pieces by both Native and non-Native artists. The Gallery of Alaska exhibit chronicles the cultural history of the state and its geological landscape is recreated in The Place Where You Go to Listen, an interactive exhibit.

Georgeson Botanical Garden is part of the University of Fairbanks campus. The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk between May and September. Research programs at the garden emphasize domestication and exportation of plants, flowers, and fruits and vegetables, while educational programming teaches visitors about subarctic horticulture. There is also a children’s garden and hedge maze.

The Chena River State Recreation Area follows the path of the Chena River. It is home to abundant wildlife like black and grizzly bears, moose, and beavers. Catch-and-release fishing is permitted along the river. There are three ponds, and at Granite Tors you can hike and rock climb. Popular winter activities include dog sledding, skiing, and snow machining. There are overnight accommodations available.

Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge is located on the grounds of a turn-of-the-century dairy farm. It operated until 1966 as the Alaskan Interior’s most successful dairy. After it closed the site was turned into a wildlife refuge. Its former buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today this is an important refuge for waterfowl and migratory birds. The Farmhouse Visitor Center has historic exhibits. There are several nature trails you can follow among them the Boreal Forest Trail, the Farm Road Trail, and the interpretive Seasonal Wetland Trail.

Alyeska Pipeline Visitor Center lets visitors get an up-close look at the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The pipeline was constructed between 1974 and 1977 with over 70,000 workers and at a cost of $8 billion. The pipeline stretches for 800 miles into the Alaskan wilderness. It is privately owned and operated by the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company. You can see informational exhibits about the construction and operation. Outside the center, you can view a portion of the pipeline yourself.

Angel Rocks Trail east of Fairbanks, Alaska

Angel Rocks Trails is located within the Chena River State Recreation Area. It stretches along an 8.3-mile roundtrip loop ending at the popular Chena Hot Springs Resort. The trail is accessible via the riverside picnic stop at milepost 48.9 along Chena Hot Springs Road. Hikers enjoy the dense evergreen forest that provides access to the scenic cliffs of Angel Rocks, a series of unique geologic formations created by the uplift and erosion of molten rock. From there the trail continues to the resort, located at milepost 56, offering fantastic views of the Alaska Range, Chena Dome, and Bear Paw Butte along the way.

The Aurora Ice Museum is located approximately one hour from Fairbanks within the Chena Hot Springs Resort. It is the world’s largest year-round ice sculpture display. All of the ice sculptures were created by champion ice carvers Heather and Steve Brice, the winners of 23 World Ice Art Championships. The museum is temperature controlled at 25 degrees Fahrenheit. It showcases unique sculptures like a two-story observation tower, a Christmas tree, and fort-style children’s bedrooms. Hanging over the Aurora Ice Bar, you can see unique colored ice chandeliers meant to mimic the region’s aurora borealis. Tours of the museum are available.

Pioneer Park was constructed for the Alaska ’67 Centennial Exposition to commemorate the hundred-year anniversary of the state’s purchase from Russia. Four museums are within the park, among them Pioneer Hall, the Tanana Valley Railroad Museum, the Pioneer Air Museum, and the Alaska Centennial Center for the Arts. Several historic artifacts are preserved at the park, including the famous Harding Car, the “Queen of the Yukon” Riverboat Nenana Steamwheeler, and authentic mining equipment preserved at Mining Valley. Dining and entertainment experiences are offered by The Alaska Salmon Bake and the Palace Theater. The Gazebo Nights concert series offers outdoor music during the summer months. Attractions for children include the Pioneer Park Playground, Red and Roela’s Carousel, and Mini Golf Fairbanks.

Black Spruce Dog Sledding is Alaska’s top dog sledding tour experience. The company is owned by husband and wife Jeff and Katti Jo Deeter, who run the famed Iditarod race. A Sled Dog Safar is available between May and November that teaches dog harnessing and showcases rides in a summer buggy. Husky Hiking Expeditions are available during the summer months, featuring off-leash nature walks by the dogs. During the winter months, there are scenic day mushing excursions where participants can try to drive the dog sleds.

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  1. I really loved this one! Wish I lived there!

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