By Elijah Sanchez, Photos by Daniel Sanchez
Discovering The Northern Lights From Fairbanks, Alaska
Twenty-five miles from Fairbanks, Alaska, Borealis Basecamp sits on one hundred acres of pristine boreal forest, offering travelers a unique experience of exploring the Alaskan wilderness that is marvelous beyond description. The camp’s unique igloos provide a one-of-a-kind experience that blends comfort and complete immersion in the wealth of beauty of the far North.
Borealis Basecamp offers a variety of packages with customizable add-ons to make the most of your travel. Each available package includes roundtrip transportation to and from Fairbanks. Upon arrival at Borealis Basecamp, guests will notice the unique igloos that allow for a full experience of the landscape without sacrificing luxury and modern accommodations. The most notable feature is the igloos’ spacious, clear fiberglass ceilings that stretch sixteen feet across, guaranteeing an exceptional viewing experience of the pristine night sky and a greater chance at spotting the lights of the aurora borealis.
The famous luminous lights of the aurora are caused by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the Earth’s atmosphere powered by solar winds that causes molecules and atoms to release their stored energy in the form of light (University of Alaska Fairbanks, n.d.). Most commonly seen as a striking yellow-green color, the aurora can vary in color depending on the types of atoms and molecules at different altitudes, with oxygen below 200 km creating green, oxygen above 200 km creating red, and nitrogen producing a range of blue, red-purple, and striking crimson (University of Alaska Fairbanks, n.d.).
For the best chance of seeing the aurora, the Fairbanks area is prime for viewing the lights in the fall, winter, and spring seasons, as it is located just below the main auroral band and has dark and clear night skies (Neil Davis, 1992). Alaska visitors who dedicate at least three nights near Fairbanks have a high chance to see the lights, and in a Borealis Basecamp igloo, visitors have a guaranteed comfortable and unique viewing experience of the Arctic sky.
Though the igloos blend the indoor and outdoor experience, there are no sacrifices to comfort as they are fully equipped with a shower, toilet, vanity sink, hairdryer, and complimentary toiletries, including soap, shampoo, and conditioner.
Also offering an unforgettable view, Borealis Basecamp introduced new Cube hideaways with floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most out of the wealth of scenery outside. Along with the same premium accommodations as the igloos, the Cubes have a queen size and “treehouse” bed, making them an excellent option for families or larger traveling parties.
Though the igloos and Cubes do not have a kitchen, the onsite restaurant, Latitude 65, offers gourmet meals with locally and sustainably sourced ingredients to give visitors an authentic Alaskan eating experience in addition to the restaurant’s stunning view of the Wickersham Dome and the White Mountains mountain range.
When not in the comfort of the igloos or Cubes, Borealis Basecamp offers guided experiences to allow travelers to experience the outdoors authentically, but safely. Available experiences include a driving tour of the Arctic Circle, a White Mountains snow machining tour, and a reindeer walking experience. One of the other most notable experiences is a dogsledding tour, where visitors meet real Alaskan racing sled dogs and learn about their lives while also enjoying a dog-powered tour through the Boreal forest.
Our time spent at Borealis Basecamp was in early April when the Aurora Borealis was at a peak time when it was most visible. The night sky seemed draped in a curtain of color that was an amazing site for us and many of the other visitors who came not to say, but to photograph the night sky for that one evening.
We also spent time on some of the excursions that included snowmobiling to see the Alaskan Pipe Line, a dog-sled ride through the wilderness, and a road trip to reach the Artic Circle via the Dalton Highway. This famous highway extends across the entire state from north to south, and the trip is relatively long but reaches 64.8401 degrees North, 147.7200 degrees West from Fairbanks, Alaska at a large pull-out that was simply a parking lot that says you’re at the Arctic Circle. While not as exciting as snowmobiling and feeling the pull of the dogs on a sled, it was well worth the long drive just to say we did it.
If your adventures take you to discover Fairbanks, Alaska a trip to the Borealis Basecamp is well worth it to make it a lifetime experience.
Aurora Borealis Basecamp. (n.d.). Borealis Basecamp. Retrieved May 31, 2023, from https://www.borealisbasecamp.net
Neil Davis, T. (1992). The Aurora Watcher’s Handbook. University of Alaska Press.
University of Alaska Fairbanks. (n.d.). Aurora Forecast. Geophysical Institute. Retrieved May 31, 2023, from https://www.gi.alaska.edu/monitors/aurora-forecast