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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States Alaska Fairbanks

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Introduction

sea plane Fairbanks

sea plane Fairbanks

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Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city and the largest in its interior region. Fairbanks developed as a city in the early 1900s when an Italian prospector struck gold in the area. It continues to live off the gold nearby, mined by the Fort Knox Gold Mine, the largest in Alaska. Tourism has also developed as a major industry, as the city has developed as the hub of Alaska's interior. The city is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the state's oldest college.

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Sights and Activities

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Events and Festivals

  • Fairbanks Golden Days is usually held towards the end of July.
  • The Rubber Duckie Race, held just after the Golden Days, sees 6,000 rubber ducks race down the Chena River.
  • The Tanana Valley Sandhill Crane Festival is held in August.
  • The Midnight Sun Festival celebrates the longest day of the year; Midnight Sun Baseball Game is played at 10:30 pm without any artificial lighting.
  • Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race
  • The World Ice Art Championships sees competitors from around the world show off their ice carving skills. Held in March.
  • The World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in July.
  • The Festival of Native Arts in March runs for three days, featuring traditional Alaska Native singing, dancing and crafts displays.

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Weather

Fairbanks' short summers last from late May to early September with temperatures mostly around 20 °C or a little higher, but occasionally hitting well over 30 °C (record is 37 °C. Nights are around 10 °C around this time. Winters last from December to March with average daytime temperatures around -15 °C while nights are between -25 °C and -30 °C although below -50 °C has been recorded. Most of the rain falls during the warmer summer months, while winters see an average of about 175 centimetres of snow.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max-18.7 °C-13.8 °C-4.6 °C5 °C15.2 °C21.2 °C22.4 °C19.1 °C12.7 °C0 °C-11.7 °C-16.8 °C
Avg Min-28.1 °C-25.8 °C-18.7 °C-6.4 °C3.3 °C9.7 °C11.4 °C8.4 °C2.3 °C-7.7 °C-20.9 °C-26 °C
Rainfall11.9 mm10.2 mm9.4 mm8.1 mm15.5 mm34.8 mm47.5 mm49.8 mm24.1 mm22.9 mm20.3 mm21.6 mm
Rain Days3.82.832.73.87.18.78.55.66.665.7

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Getting There

By Plane

There are regular direct flights to Fairbanks International Airport from Anchorage and Barrow and seasonally there are also direct flights from Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Salt Lake City, Denver, Dawson City, and Seattle. Daily jet service is available from a few US cities and there are scheduled or charter service to Europe and Asia. Japan Airlines offers seasonal flights to Fukuoka, Nagoya and Tokyo, and Frankfurt-based Condor Airlines offers weekly direct flights during summer. Several small airlines serve tiny settlements in the arctic.

By Train

In the summer months, Princess Tours runs a service between Fairbanks and Anchorage called the Denali Star Train. The trip takes roughly 12 hours and passes through the Denali National Park. Rates vary seasonally, ranging from $155 one-way in the shoulder seasons to $194 in the peak season. The Alaska Railroad connects Fairbanks also to Whittier and Seward, pas Anchorage.

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.

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Getting Around

By Car

Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.

For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.

By Public Transport

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

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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.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Billie's Backpackers Hostel2895 Mack BlvdHostel90
GoNorth Hostel3500 Davis Rd PO Box 60147Hostel-
Glacier House535 Glacier Avenue Fairbanks, AlaskaHostel82
Chandalar Ranch5804 Chena Hotsprings Road PO Box 74877Hostel-
3 Dog Night Hostel5972 Richardso Salcha River Kennels, Salcha AlaskaHOSTEL-

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Keep Connected

Internet

There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.

Post

The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 64.835054
  • Longitude: -147.646528

Accommodation in Fairbanks

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Fairbanks searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Fairbanks and areas nearby.

Contributors

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This is version 21. Last edited at 12:49 on Sep 26, 16 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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