Fairbanks

For other places with the same name, see Fairbanks (disambiguation).

Fairbanks is a town in Interior Alaska, 1488 miles (2395 km) from the start of the Alaska Highway in Dawson Creek, BC. It is the second-largest city in Alaska and, being a junction of several major highways, will be a likely stop of most visitors to the state.

Fairbanks proper may be like a smaller version of a large American city. There's a Wal-Mart, a Home Depot and a McDonald's. Don't let this fool you: The greater Fairbanks area is true to its roots. There are plenty of Alaskan originals here.

Understand

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°F) 1 10 25 45 61 72 73 66 55 32 11 5
Nightly lows (°F) -17 -13 -2 21 38 49 52 46 35 17 -6 -13
Precipitation (in) 0.6 0.4 0.3 0.3 0.6 1.4 2.2 1.9 1.1 0.8 0.7 0.6

   Data from NOAA (1981-2010)

Fairbanks' climate is subarctic, with frigid winters from October to March or April, short spring and fall seasons, and mild summers from May to September. July is the mildest month, with average highs of 73 Fahrenheit and average lows of 52; January is the coldest month, with average highs barely above 0 and average lows of -18. Being located in a valley and far from any large body of water, Fairbanks has little seasonal lag in both winter and summer.

Get in

By plane

By car

If you are driving up from Anchorage, the George Parks Highway is a beautiful trip. Plan plenty of time in your schedule for sight-seeing, meals and photographs. During the summer, when the roads are clear, the trip can easily be made in 7 or 8 hours, with stops for snacks and bathroom breaks - depending on road construction and motorhome-convoy-slowdowns. You will pass through Denali National Park on your way which is a popular attraction. However, if you plan to stay the night have reservations well in advance. By "lower-48" standards, accommodation near the park is either "4-star" or "rustic". Both can be pricey, but worth every penny, especially if you spend a day in the park.

Though many think Denali Park is the highlight of the trip there are long stretches of breath-taking beauty. It is not uncommon to see moose, caribou, dall sheep, bear, and other wildlife along the road - have your camera ready. There are plenty of gas stations scattered along the route, but as expected, the prices are much higher than in Anchorage or Fairbanks. Fill up before you leave.

There are several good places to eat along the way as well. Most places will have specialties like reindeer or buffalo on the menu as well as more traditional fare.

All in all, you should make the drive at least once. It's worth it.

By train

During the summer the Alaska Railroad provides daily service between Anchorage and Fairbanks, stopping in Denali National Park and other spots along the way. Trains depart Anchorage at 8:15AM, arriving in Fairbanks at 8PM. Winter services are limited to one service on Saturdays. Fares vary throughout the season, with rates between $167 and $210 for a one-way ticket.

Get around

By car

By far, the easiest way to get around Fairbanks is by car. Major car rental companies are located at the airport.

By taxi

Multiple taxi companies provide transportation throughout the city.

By bus

Bus service, although infrequent, provides transportation throughout the downtown area. Fares are $1.50, or $3 for a day pass.

See

Do

Tours

If you are visiting Fairbanks mid-May through the end of September, there are several tours that allow tourists to learn the history and culture of Fairbanks. The tours described below are the most popular and advised tours to take while visiting Fairbanks. All major lodges in the area can set you up on a number of local tours.

Events

Activities

Buy

For those who have been camping extensively, one of the first things to look for in Fairbanks is a shower. Practically every laundromat in town also offers showers for between $3 and $7. Most will provide a towel and liquid soap, but be prepared for a quick cleaning as nearly all will utilize timers that turn the water off after only a few minutes.

Eat

Drink

One traditional Fairbanks cruise is known as "The Bar Float". The Chena river runs right through the center of town, with several of the bars that may be accessed right from the river. You can start at the put in near Pioneer Park, where Peger Road crosses the Chena River. There, they also rent canoes and kayaks. From here, you can float downriver past the bars known as The Boatel, Chena's, Pikes Landing, and finally taking out at The Pumphouse. The chena is an easy-going river, but there's plenty of motorboat, canoe, jetski, and even airplane traffic during the summer so, as always, have a designated driver to keep it safe.

Sleep

Hotels

Hostels

Stay safe

Unlike Anchorage, Fairbanks has had somewhat of a bad reputation for crime, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. While crime rates have improved since then and downtown Fairbanks is well policed, it is wise to avoid the area around South Cushman street after dark. It is the poorest and most dangerous area of Fairbanks, has high rates of drug activity, prostitution, sexual assaults and muggings, and suffers urban blight - but attacks on tourists are very rare and there's little reason for tourists to be in this area, anyway. Other constant problems in Fairbanks are break-ins in parked vehicles, house robberies, and petty theft. Don't leave valuables visible in your car, lock your car and house doors, and you should be fine.

Go next

Routes through Fairbanks

Dalton Hwy  N  S  North Pole Delta Junction
End  N  S  Denali N.P. Anchorage (via )


This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Saturday, November 21, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.