November to March is an increasingly popular time to visit—when the glorious aurora borealis competes with spectacular ski conditions and the handiwork of ice sculptors from around the world. For those chasing the northern lights, December to March is prime time, thanks to the long, dark nights.
Fairbanks makes an excellent base, offering many locally guided outings to special viewing spots—such as a hot spring or a cozy yurt. You can even ask your hotel if they offer a wake-up call when the northern lights are out, dancing in hues of green, teal and white. Back in town, Fairbanks has plenty of restaurants, plus the wonderful University of Alaska Museum of the North. March also brings the World Ice Art Championships, when you can watch sculptors from around the world carve massive ice blocks, and then view the results—illuminated by colored lights—along the Chena River.
’Tis the season, too, to take advantage of Alaska’s terrific ski conditions. Snow generally starts falling in mid-October and stays into mid-April. Three of the state’s seven ski resorts are within 50 minutes of downtown Anchorage, including luxurious Alyeska—renowned for its “steep and deep” powder and more than 1,600 skiable acres.
Weather tip: Sky gazers, bundle up in Fairbanks! Average temperatures in January fall between 0 and 15 degrees F, but can go much lower.