Where to Go

Hurst RdWhere can I go to see the aurora from Fairbanks? The answer for a faint show is anywhere there are few or no streetlights or other light pollution. Big shows, you can see the aurora right from anywhere in town, including the big box store parking lot! (Anchorage areas are here)

There are too many places to list where you can see the lights. Any open spot with a view toward the north or northeast with little light pollution. You can see the lights while driving, but usually not in the city, as your night vision will be hindered. Dim your cars dash lights! Turn off your headlights when you reach your destination, and to turn off parking lights that like to stay on, use the parking brake.

If the roads are bad, the weather iffy, or you just don’t want to do it alone, hiring a tour guide is a good choice. You will be around like minded people, interested in seeing the aurora. You can also learn how to use your camera under the lights, and or get your photo taken professionally. We recommend Skyfire in Focus Tours out of Fairbanks, Alaska. Another great choice is the Aurora Chasers.

The most popular and well known locations are Cleary Summit and Chena Lakes. Cleary can get crowded, as the tour busses park there. Be polite and turn off your headlights as soon as possible. Chena Lakes is big and there is plenty of places to park. For both locations, watch for deep snow. Get out and look and walk it to test how deep the snow is.

Here are a few locations, away from city lights in the Fairbanks areas:

Chena Lakes

Cleary Summit

Nordale Road pullouts

multiple areas along Chena Hot Springs Road from Fairbanks all the way to Chena Hot Springs. Notable spots include Mile 25, gravel pit, shooting range, Mile 35, Mile 37, several campground areas (watch for lack of snow plowing!), and the public use cabins (do not go there unless you have a reservation).

Pipeline viewing area along the Steese Hwy

Pedro’s Monument along the Steese Hwy

Hagelbarger Rd lookout

Murphy Dome

Ester Dome

Pullouts and rest areas along the Parks Hwy, Talkeetna to Nenana to Fairbanks

Pullouts along the Richardson Hwy past Salcha, including Boondox Bar, Tanana River lookouts, Birch Lake, the bridge into Delta.

Many side streets on the outskirts of Fairbanks.

Ft WW, and Eielson, multiple back of base locations, side roads, near lakes and fields, golf course, arctic survival, dump (although the new streetlights at the dump are bright).

Wickersham Dome trailhead (Mile 29 Elliot Hwy)

Olnes Pond

Ballaine Rd pullouts

Goldstream Rd

behind the airport

Sheep Creek Rd

Eielson Farm Rd pullouts, Bathing Beauty Pond, Moose Creek side roads, Moose Creek Bluff

Creamers Field

Davis fields ballpark

Plack Road pipeline pullouts at Parham McCormick Rd. (watch for deep snow)

Corner of Hurst Rd and Nelson Rd.

3rd floor or higher from tall buildings (facing north or northeast is most typical).

Back roads south of Van Horn Rd.

Tanana Lakes (gate closes at 10pm) aka south Cushman.

    Do not drive on private property. If you are not familiar with the area, and the roads are covered in snow, do you know where the ditch is? Or the edge of the shoulder? Is it really a street or the pipeline, a river, or someone’s driveway? The area around Cleary Summit has many private roads. Some of them are dead ends, but online, it appears they go for miles. That “road” you see might be a dog-sled trail or the old gold prospector trails!

MAPS:

How to get to Wickersham Dome

How to get to Chena Lakes

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This is what the large pullout on Nordale Road looks like in the summer.

This is what the large pullout on Nordale Road looks like in the summer. Photo by Amy Stratman

How to get to the Nordale Rd pullouts and viewing area

How to get to the Nordale Rd pullouts and viewing area

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How to get to Cleary Summit

cleary parking
How to get to Cleary Summit:
Head north out of Fairbanks on the Steese Hwy. Pass the pipeline. When you get to the weigh station (located on the right), and the gas station (located on the left), this is the town of Fox. Turn right, which is still the Steese Hwy. The signs will say you are headed toward Chatanika, Central, and Circle. Go up the mountain. You will know when you get to the summit, as it starts to go downhill, and there is a sign for trucks that indicate downhill. Right before that sign is a parking area to pull into. The street sign reads Fairbanks Creek Rd and Fish Creek Rd.

If you keep going toward Chatanika on the Steese Hwy, there are some areas to pull over to see the aurora, but in the dark and driving on the ice, if you are unfamiliar, the best area is in fact, Cleary Summit. After Cleary, your cell phone will lose its signal. After Chatanika Lodge, there are no services for almost 100 miles.

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