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Fairbanks is located in the heart of interior Alaska 370 road miles north of Anchorage, about eight hours by car. Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city with over 80,000 residents in the greater Fairbanks area. Located near the confluence of the Tanana and Chena Rivers, the town was originally founded in the early 1900’s as a trading post serving stern-wheeler riverboats and early gold prospectors. The town still plays an important supply role in Alaska due to its proximity to the Arctic region and North Slope oil fields. Fairbanks typically enjoys long sunny days during the summer months, with temperatures frequently passing the 70 degree mark.
Fairbanks is a gateway to an authentic Alaska adventure. It is one of the best spots on earth to see the Northern Lights. Beautiful and mysterious curtains, the colors range from green to red to purple, with the brightest and most common color, a yellow-green. Fairbanks sits under what is called the auroral oval, a ring-shaped region around the North Pole. Its location offers a great balance of occurrence, frequency and activity. Intensity varies from night to night, with the best viewing from late evening through the wee hours of the morning, late August to April.
Discover the best of what Fairbanks has to offer. The small-town hospitality and pioneer sprit will make your stay one to remember. Fairbanks is the hub for Alaska's Interior and Arctic with first-class accommodations and restaurants, museums, world-renowned concerts and performances, upscale galleries and specialty stores, historic sites, Alaska Native Culture, and access to the Alaskan wilderness.
Our favorite Fairbanks hotel is located on the Chena River, which runs through Fairbanks and offers some beautiful Alaskan scenery. The River's Edge Resort is a nice family-run hotel offering beautiful private cottages in a riverside setting. Another good choice is Sophie Station Hotel, where every room is a well-appointed true suite. Both hotels are close to the Fairbanks airport as well as major attractions and shopping areas. In you have the time, a night or two in Fairbanks makes a great addition to you Alaska vacation.
Fairbanks Tours and Attractions:
The “Golden Heart” city of Fairbanks offers a nice selection of tours and activities. Certainly the most popular is a cruise aboard the Riverboat Discovery on the Chena River. The town also has an excellent museum at the University, and a number of tours exploring Fairbanks’ gold mining history. A city tour or visit to “Alaska Land” is always a great choice. With its northern location, Fairbanks is a great starting point for tours across the Arctic Circle and to the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.
Fairbanks does have an international airport, and major carriers offer service from the continental United States. Alaska Airlines also offers a number of convenient flights each day between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Most visitors travel to Fairbanks by Alaska Railroad or car. The Alaska Railroad offers daily summer service from Fairbanks each morning to Denali National Park, Talkeetna and Anchorage. Many visitors will start their Alaska vacation in Fairbanks, then tour south to Anchorage and fly home or depart by cruise ship from nearby Seward.
Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city and has expanded its borders to include a city population of 35,000, and an overall area population of 86,000.
Fairbanks economy is tied to military, the petroleum industry, transportation, the University of Alaska and tourism.
In 1901 Captain E.T. Barnette disembarked from the steamship, Lavelle Young, and set up a temporary trading post on the banks of the Chena River.His temporary post became permanent when Felix Pedro discovered gold in the nearby hills in 1902, sparking a stampede of miners into the Interior. Fairbanks was founded in 1902 as a trading post for gold miners developing the Interior fields and Incorporated as a city in 1903. The city is named after Indiana Senator Charles Fairbanks who later became Vice-President. Now, "discovery day" is commemorated every July with a bang-up celebration called Golden Days.
The city was a stopping place for warplanes traveling through for the Russian World War II Lend-Lease Plan.
In the 1970s, Fairbanks boomed with the construction of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, which passes just to the east of town.
Ther is still active mining in the area and glimpses of the former bonanzas can be seen along the Steese Highway in the tailing piles left over by the gold dredges.
Before Fairbanks was founded, Koyukon Athabaskans lived, fished, and hunted along the shores of the Tanana River for thousands of years. The Tanana and other rivers also served as trade routes with other Athabaskans and Inuit.
Alaska continues to be home to a diverse group of aboriginal people who first called the Last Frontier their home many thousands of years prior to the miners and merchants of the Gold Rush. The three main groups - Athabascan Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts - are collectively referred to as Alaska Natives. However, separately, they represent different cultures, languages and beliefs. Today, 90,000 Native people constitute 15% of Alaska's population, living in remote villages as well as urban cities like Fairbanks. Athabascans are predominant in Alaska's vast Interior and are known for their decorative beadwork, birch bark baskets, and skin sewed garments. Fairbanks is the host city to the Festival of Native Arts, the Athabascan Old-Time Fiddling Festival, the Midnight Sun Intertribal Powwow and the World Eskimo Indian Olympics where visitors can experience a part of Alaska's rich Native culture.
Fairbanks has some of the most extreme weather in the world (summer high 95 °F and winter low -65 °F) with rapid temperature swings, thunderstorms with hail and lightning and snow in the summer. Winters are very long, lasting from late September to mid-April. They are very cold and dry, with temperatures sometimes dipping down to -65 °F (-51.1 °C). The temperature is below zero for entire months.