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Introducing Fairbanks

The only thing that constitutes a ‘city’ in interior Alaska, Fairbanks often feels more like a crossroads than a conventional metropolis. But at the nexus of some truly epic routes – north to the Arctic, east to Canada and south to Denali – the mix of people in this once-rough-and-ready gold-rush town is rarely boring. Stay long enough and you’ll meet the cross-continental cyclist who’s pedaled up from Tierra del Fuego, the disorientated cruisers bussed in from Seward, the Arctic-bound adventurers stocking up on supplies in Fred Meyer, and the bush pilots heading out to Kobuk, Chalkyitsik or some other chilly Arctic landing strip.

Fairbanks isn’t particularly pretty – its ‘downtown’ is soporific and, in the rest of the city, the local businesses lie clustered around dull strung-out strip malls. However, there are saving graces. The modern university campus gives the city a young, forward-thinking demographic, while caught in the right light on a long summer's evening, the Chena River is a pleasant place to float or have a picnic (or both). If you come during the frigid winter, Fairbanks is the start or end point of the Yukon Quest 1000-mile dog-sled race and ground zero for viewing the aurora borealis.