The main objective of our dream of visiting Alaska, besides from reaching the northernmost point of the planet, was to see the northern lights, those magical colorful lights that dance delicately in bright luminous tones on starry nights. It sounds idyllic, right? It really is, the problem is that is not easy to coincide with them.

And the aforementioned have the personality of arrogant, vain and capricious women, who decide when to peek, what to wear and when to dance. Besides that, to coincide with them is already an odyssey and no one knows for sure when they are going to show up, but a couple of hours before, and it will depend on the activity of the sun. When in Alaska, the best place to see them is Fairbanks. Nothing else to say!

Neither the snowstorm nor all the red alerts stopped us to keep looking for the Northern lights

by car from anchorage to fairbanks

They were eight long hours from Anchorage to Fairbanks. As every rogue is lucky, during our trip the storm dissipated, the sun shone all day and when we arrived in Fairbanks, we were recommended to visit the resort Chena Hot Springs, which welcomed us with natural hot springs in the middle of the snow. We were enjoying the hot water at -8 celcius degrees  when the first activity of the night began.

A few shy maidens dressed up in intense green came out.

We rushed to change and install the camera, the tripod and to move away a little from the resort, because the light pollution of the place robbed all the protagonism to the timid maidens. Our determination made us walk to the aurorium, a hut on a hill, from where we could wait again calmly, because while we were moving, the lights disappeared as timidly as they appeared and, at the time we reached the cabin, there was nothing left of them, but a wake in the sky.

But I was determined to photograph them, so I planted my camera in the snow and waited a couple of minutes because the cold was absurd (and we were wearing autumn clothes and shoes). Luckily the cabin had heating and allowed us to shelter from the heat and the wood. We waited hours and nothing. Mauro fell asleep while I kept insisting on heating the camera’s battery to make it last all night. I wanted at least one picture, at least one and I would be happy. I asked each and every one of the spiritual guides of all cultures (- “hey, gods and guides… you guys in heaven: please, cooperate, yes ?… I only ask you for 1 picture”)

looking for northern lights alaska fairbanks- vamossomewhere
looking for northern lights alaska fairbanks- vamossomewhere

And suddenly, as if they had listened to me, a couple of spinster aunts poked their suits. They went out for a walk, one dressed in green and the other in vibrant pink. They did not dance, they only showed up a few minutes, as if to please me and with their impetuous air they also turned around and vanished in the intensity of the night. I was perplexed, dazzled by such beauty, as haunted, with the sweet taste of mouth and the joy of the memory of an exquisite and ephemeral perfume that you know you will remember for a long time.

looking for northern light- fairbanks- alaska- vamossomewhere

This is the only picture that I was allowed to take.

It is enough for me to leave you with this sensation of curiosity, with the desire to taste that same sweet that I tasted that night. For the rest, I was very satisfied. This trip to Fairbanks, in addition to signifying the tenacity and the determination to find the magic of a very ephemeral and unpredictable natural phenomenon, meant discovering an incredible place, as unique as the natural spectacles of which it boasts.

Technical and interesting info to see and to photograph Northern Lights in Alaska:

  1. You must follow The monitoring page of the solar activity, the clouds and the probability of seeing the Auroras.

If the activity is less than 6, you will not see much or nothing.

  1. You must find a place in the latitudes of the Arctic Circle, such as Alaska, Iceland, Finland.
  1. The best time of year: Autumn and winter due to low light pollution and clear atmospheric conditions.
  1. Take a tripod and use automatic shutter for your camera, we recommend a reflex canon like ours or a similar one that allows you to choose the configuration of everything in manual mode.
  2. Set your camera: Set the ISO between 800 and 3200, open the diaphragm between f / 2.8 and f / 5.6, the shutter speed between 15 and 30 seconds. After 15 seconds of shutter speed, it will give you a wake-up result. If you have a remote, activate it, otherwise, use the timer for at least 5 seconds (to remove the movement that you infringe to the camera when you touch it). You are ready. Compose your image and shoot. Play with these parameters until you find the exhibition you want.
vamossomewhere ice museum alaska fairbanks- chena hot springs

Places of interest you can visit if you go to Fairbanks from Anchorage by car:

The Ice Museum at the Chena Hot Springs resort

This place is great! everything is on ice, the tables, the walls, the sculptures of medieval knights, stylized muses, a tuned xylophone and a bar to have a strawberry daikiri in an ice cup!

The abandoned igloo

It was a hotel and closed since the 70s because it did not comply with regulations in case of fire and since then has been a refuge for wolves, bears and elks.

The replica of bus 142 of the movie Into the wild

Based on Christopher McCandless story. This is a replica designed for you to see everything as in the original bus that is in a place deep inside the forest, without access roads and to which there are already several young people who, wanting to get there, have lost their lives in the river.

The Denali Park

If you can not get in, although you border it, this Alaska national park is really majestic. They close it from the end of summer until the end of spring.

The small towns that seem abandoned (depending on the season).

We arrive in Alaska in the fall, so that the season is over and what in the summer is a town full of people and outdoor activities, as soon as the fall starts, each village seems like a ghost town, you literally do not see a soul. Very particular that feeling. I loved it.

What clothes to take to Alaska?

This question has four answers, which summarizes everything: it depends on the season. We visited in Autumn and well, the truth was that it was cold as winter, but very nice because even the days were long. In Alaska, during winter time there are days where the sun does not rise and during the summer there are days when night never comes. We highly recommend clothes with natural or synthetic down and yes, a good pair of water repellent shoes.

What car to rent to travel Alaska?

It’s simple: if you go in summer, any car with four wheels will do well its job.

But, from Autumn, Winter and even spring, you should go towards a four-wheel drive or 4×4. It’s worth a few dollars more, but it will make all the difference when it comes to responding on icy roads. Do not hesitate one moment;)

For us, Alaska has been one of the most memorable travel experiences. It will not leave you indifferent. And when someone, advise you: “Be careful not to stay stranded at night on dark roads, be careful of a bear, or a wolf, or a frost or to get stuck in the car without being able to move” and then laugh out loud… do not be scared, it’s true and it happens. All this is Alaska!

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