Frequently Asked Questions
Answers to questions about the Aurora Borealis often asked by guests at Aurora Borealis Lodge and Northern Lights viewing tours.
Q. What are my odds of seeing the aurora?
Two key factors determine if you’ll see the auroras or not. Weather & solar activity. We could have the biggest aurora of the year, but if it’s completely cloudy, you will not see it. Conversely, we could have a completely clear sky with brilliant stars, but if the aurora itself is not happening, then obviously, you won’t see it. That said, weather is usually the bigger determinant. From our location on Cleary Summit, there is about a 90% chance of seeing some form of aurora on a clear/partly clear night.
Q. When is the best time to come?
We operate based on aurora viewing, so there is a good chance of viewing anytime between mid-August & mid-April. January – April tend to have more clear nights per month (20 days) than in October/November (17 days), but at the same time, it’s not a HUGE difference. We often tell guests to plan on coming based on what you’d want to do during the daytime. E.g., if you want to dog sled, then December – March is best. If you want to enjoy the fall colors, go hiking, or avoid the cold, then late August to mid-September is the time. I also tell folks to come when it’s most convenient for them, such as children’s school break, your work schedule, have to use up airline miles by a certain date, etc.
Q. How many nights should I stay?
The number of nights stayed (or attempted to view auroras) is much like an at-bat in baseball. The more nights (at-bats) you have, the better the chance of getting a hit (aurora sighting). With that, a minimum of 4 nights would be ideal, but of course, the longer the stay, the better your odds.
Q. Do I need to be on top of a mountain or hill to see the northern lights?
No. You basically want to be away from the city lights, in a location with a wide view of the sky. i.e., you don’t want to be in a densely wooded area because the tall trees will only give you a limited view of the sky. That is why being on top of a hill (like us or Murphy Dome), out by a lake (Chena Lakes, Olnes Pond, Tanana Lakes), or a field (Creamer’s Field, Dog Musher’s Hall) are popular.
Q. How far away are you from Fairbanks?
We are located 20 miles northeast of downtown Fairbanks, about a 30 minute drive. The Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) is on the west side of town, so it is 26 miles away (about a 40 minute drive).
Q. If I book a room, how do I get there? Is there a shuttle service?
Most of our overnight guests get a rental car. During the snow months (typically October-April), you’ll need an AWD or 4×4 vehicle. In August and most of September, a 2WD compact is fine as long as you don’t have too much luggage! If you prefer not to drive, we have a list of local shuttle/taxi companies we recommend. We can e-mail you that information upon request.
Q. Is there a restaurant on site?
We do not have a restaurant or any stores on site, nor nearby. All our rooms have private kitchens though. You can see what is provided in the kitchens if you go to our ACCOMMODATIONS page. Scroll down for photos and descriptions. Groceries can be purchased in Fairbanks. In Fairbanks, we have two Fred Meyers (www.fredmeyer.com ), two Safeways, one Walmart Supercenter, one Costco (membership warehouse), and a few local co-op markets.
Q. Do I have to book an aurora viewing tour if I am staying at the lodge?
There is no need to do an additional aurora viewing tour if you are staying with us. Our aurora tours are geared toward guests that are staying in Fairbanks city area hotels, where usually there is too much light pollution for ideal viewing. Our tours bring those guests up to our main lodge where they can wait comfortably from 10:30pm-2:00am for hopefully some great sightings. As our overnight guests, your room will offer the same view as the main lodge does, but in the comfort and privacy of your own room. On the nights we have tours (which is about 4-6 nights per week), you’re welcome to come hang out, mingle, and ask questions in the main lodge 10:30pm-2:00am.
Q. What is provided in the kitchen?
The kitchen features full size oven/cook top, apartment size refrigerator (with freezer compartment), microwave, coffee maker (10 cup) with coffee filters, toaster oven, rice cooker, pots/pans, utensils, cooking tools. Also supplied are coffee, tea, sugar/creamer packs, salt, pepper, cooking oil and soy sauce.
Q. What is provided in the bathroom?
The bathroom features hand held showerheads, heated bidet toilet seats, soap/shampoo, towels, toilet paper, and hair dryer.