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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Travel Tuesday - Alaska or Bust!

I may have mentioned a time or two how I long to see Alaska.  There are two reasons why I feel so strongly about traveling to this massive land of many a mile that has yet to be touched by a human being.  First – I want to visit all 50 states in the U.S. and this is by far the one that intrigues me the most!  Secondly – I thirst to see the Northern Lights aka Aurora Borealis.    This incredible and seemingly magical display of breathtaking beauty if most prevalent in the far North of the U.S.  normally 70 – 80 degrees north but sometimes you can observe the Northern Lights as far south as 50 degrees.  So Alaska is on my travel list for this year!
Now let me preface this blog by saying…everything that I have written here is strictly from research that I have done on my future Alaskan trip.  As with any travel – I like to do my homework!

What exactly are the Northern Lights?
Per Travel + Leisure – some native Alaskans often view the Aurora as a torch lit bridge over which the spirits of the dead pass on their way to Heaven.

Another more scientific definition follows

  "a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions.
The origin of the aurora begins on the surface of the sun when solar activity ejects a cloud of gas. Scientists call this a coronal mass ejection (CME). If one of these reaches earth, taking about 2 to 3 days, it collides with the Earth’s magnetic field. This field is invisible, and if you could see its shape, it would make Earth look like a comet with a long magnetic ‘tail’ stretching a million miles behind Earth in the opposite direction of the sun.

Got all that?  All I know is that it is a beautiful site to behold and one that I can not wait to see with my own eyes!

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When is the best time to see the Northern Lights?
I have done quite a bit of research on when to schedule travel. There are many places that one can view the Northern Lights but I will be traveling to Alaska so everything is based upon my destination.   The best viewing time appears to be during Equinoxes (September-October and February – March).  Your best chances of seeing the “lights” would be in a location where there is no light pollution.  The less light – the better the chances!  Also it is important to make sure that you do not schedule your trip during the full moon.  A clear sky is also essential to your success.  It is a good idea to plan for a minimum of a 3 night stay.  This will greatly enhance your chances of seeing the Northern Lights

How to get to Alaska
Well there are several ways from the U.S.
You can always take a cruise and I know that the scenery on any cruise line has to be spectacular. While I have thought about doing an Alaskan cruise I think that I would prefer to travel deeper into Alaska than just the ports.  You always have the choice to take excursions while docked at each port but those can get very expensive! 

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For this reason I  think that I will  a fly/drive trip.  While there are flights directly into Fairbanks via Frontier Airlines via Denver (I do have a free ticket with them!) you can also fly into Anchorage.  American Airlines offers flights into Anchorage via a layover in Seattle.   Anchorage is about 350 miles from Fairbanks and I can only imagine the beauty of such a drive. As you can see - there are several opportunities for your travel destination.

Where is the best place to see the Northern Lights?
One of the best locations in Alaska to see the lights would be around the Fairbanks area.

Where to stay in Fairbanks
Again – I have done tons of research on the best accommodations in and around Fairbanks.  The one place that keeps popping up is the Aurora Borealis Lodge.  It is a mere 20 miles north of Fairbanks and it offers some very unique features.  First of all…lights must be out by 10:30 p.m.!    They have tons of windows in the lodge so you will always have a great view of the sky no matter which room you are in.  They offer a full kitchen in their rooms plus the one thing that I love – they will contact you in your room if the Northern Lights make  their dance across the Alaskan sky!
I am really getting excited now and can not wait to begin planning what I know will be an inspiration trip!!

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