Below is our itinerary:
We will fly into Barrow late at night and stay at King Elder Inn in for 2 nights, then catch a flight to Fairbanks on the 3rd night. So far we plan to visit the Inupiat Heritage Center, the bowhead whale bone arch and the direction pole (the one with signs stating distance from various places), and having a meal at the Pepe's North of the Border. We will go around town mainly by taxi. Though we thought about checking out Point Barrow, the tour is a bit pricey for our budget. However, we are open to suggestions/advice!
We will be staying at Fairbanks for 4 full days and have the following activities: Ice fishing, visiting the University of Alaska Museum of the North, snowshoeing at Denali NP, checking out the Santa Claus house in North Pole, touring the ice museum, soaking in Chena hot springs, and of course, viewing aurora borealis if the weather permits.
We will be staying at a hostel but will rent a car to drive out at night when there's aurora borealis activities. After reading some posts in TA, I know that we have to be away from the city lights for better views.
Here are my list of questions regarding activities in Fairbanks:
1. Consider the length of my stay in Fairbanks, we have to combine some activities in one day. I am thinking of having University of Alaska, Santa Claus House, and Chena hot springs and ice museum in 1 day. Will that be too much activities? I am also accounting for travel fatigue, safety, operating hours of the point of interests, etc.
2. I read that there's snowshoes for borrowing at the visitor center in Denali NP. What time should we get there by? Any suggestion on hiking routes? I am thinking of spending 2-3 hours there. Do they provide maps there? The last thing I want would be getting lost in the park.
3. How is the ice museum at Chena hot springs? Is it worth a visit? We are planning to get there around 5PM for the tour then soak ourselves in the hot springs for 1-2 hours (maybe even less). Will bathing suit be proper at -20F? I read a very nice, detailed trip report by JimGinAtlanta and he mentioned bathing suit is not a good idea. Just want to get more information on that. Especially on how to not get frozen to death after getting out of the hot springs (sorry for the exaggeration!). Lastly, we are planning to have dinner and hang out at the resort until midnight. Is there an area where we can stay and not get kicked out before then? I also am concern about safety on the drive back to Fairbanks.
4. We are thinking of joining an ice fishing tour. Any suggestion on what would be a good company to go with? Would you suggest to drop ice fishing for something else?
5. Anyone knows how's the aurora borealis activities so far this year? Any suggestion on good viewing location? Is there a website where we can get reliable prediction on when aurora borealis will occur (will check daily)?
Sorry for the lengthy post. I just rather be detail than vague. Again, any suggestions and/or advice are welcome. Thanks in advance for all the help I get!