A spread-out, low-rise city, Fairbanks features extremes of climate, colorful residents and gold fever. In a city that can hit -60°F (-70°C) in the winter, summer days average 70°F (21°C) and occasionally top 90°F (32°C). Downtown is roughly centered on Golden Heart Park, and Cushman St is more or less the main street.
Fairbanks was founded in 1901, when a trader could not get his riverboat any further up the Chena River. A gold strike made Fairbanks a boom town, with 18, 000 residents by 1908, but by 1920 it had slumped to 1000. WWII, the Alcan Hwy and military bases produced minor booms, but the town took off as a construction base for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1973 and still serves as a gateway to the North Slope. Just north of the city is Fort Knox, Alaska’s largest gold mine.
Need to know
Fairbanks destination guides
The great Alaska pub paddle - discover local flavour along Fairbanks’ Chena River
Fairbanks is an Alaskan original – oddball locals, raucous bars and rolling rivers. And from a town of original character comes original adventure. One of the best ways to find authentic experiences here is by taking to the rivers for the Great Fairbanks Pub Paddle.
Northern Lights Overnight Tour with Dog Sledding
Do as Alaskans do on an overnight northern lights tour. Marvel at the lights of the Aurora Borealis roping across the night sky, snowshoe across icy paths or go behind the reins of a dog sled. As evening falls in Talkeetna, strap on snowshoes for a chance to see the northern lights in the darkness.
Chena River Canoe Adventure from Fairbanks
See all kinds of Alaskan wildlife up close during an easy, guided canoe ride along the Chena River on this full-day tour from Fairbanks. Admire the unspoiled nature that surrounds you and stop along the sandbanks to relax and capture photos of foxes, moose and bald eagles. On one of these breaks, enjoy a tasty meal.
Cruising Alaska: a starter guide
While many independent travelers will find the strictures of ‘cruise life’ a bit stifling, there are plenty of reasons to take an Alaskan cruise, namely the two ‘Cs’: comfort and convenience.