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February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

Annapolis, Maryland
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February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

I am determined to see the aurora borealis and have read that this is the year to do it (sun activity). Tentative plan is to fly to Anchorage in early February, take the train to Fairbanks, stay there for a week, and return by train.

What are things for two active seniors from Maryland to see and do that won't get us frostbitten? I appreciate any advice.

Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

We are also seniors and planning to go end of December. Adequate clothing is essential. Look at older posts on this Forum for clothing tips.

From my research so far, we plan dog sledding (if the temperature dips to low, they close), driving to Chena Hot Springs, and perhaps driving to Healy and try dog sledding or snowshoeing in Denali. But this is not something I would recommend to you without trying myself first!

Most operators will provide you with clothing suitable for the activity, for a fee.

Edited: 30 July 2013, 17:51
Healy, Alaska
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2. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

Just to add, you will need heavy duty clothing just for your driving around - February is often the coldest month in the Interior.

Whitehorse
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3. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

Try to be there when the Yukon Quest happens.

Annapolis, Maryland
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4. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

Thanks for that hint on Yukon Quest - I had not heard of it before, and we will be there at the right time.

I am concerned about the right clothing since "cold" in Fairbanks probably was has whole different meaning than "cold" in Maryland.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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5. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

Why are you flying in/out of Anchorage is Fairbanks is your choice for destinations? I would punt Anchorage and fly directly into F-banks.

Layers are the most important thing, followed by being wind/waterproof on your outer layer. Also good boots that are thermal rated to at least -20F. Cold feet will make your trip miserable. Also buy good merino wool socks.

p.s. If "cold" is really worrisome for you, I would suggest you reconsider and go in March. There are a lot of things to see/do in the event that the sun & weather do not cooperate and you do not see the aurora.

Edited: 04 August 2013, 20:20
Chugiak, Alaska
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6. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

'Also buy good merino wool socks.'

Or Smartwool type socks. I find other wool socks not as good at wicking sweat away.

I tend to agree with March being a better time to go. However if you do, I'd make a two or three day stop in Anchorage before flying to Fairbanks. Lots to do during Fur Rondy at the end of Feb even if you don't stay for the start of the Iditarod.

Fairbanks cold will be way different than Maryland- it's a MUCH drier cold, but then is also way colder than you are used to.

Having gone dog sledding with Jon and Earthsong Lodge near Denali, I highly recommend it. Being able to combine that with a snowshoe with Rangers on the weekends at the Park would make it extra neat. There are lodging options in Healy if you want to do both things and can't manage them easily in one day.

Ketchikan
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7. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

Living in a warmer climate and going to Fairbanks in winter can mean lots of clothes but here is my relatively flexible recipe.....wear wool trousers and cotton turtleneck on plane. Pack silk long johns and a cashmere sweater in carry-on....add those lightweight but warm layers when you arrive in Fairbanks. Kirkland brand cashmere from Costco is cheap and readily available on E-Bay. Inexpensive but breathable rain pants over trousers can add another layer. Good leather hiking boots with heavy soles and wool socks can get you through most activities, especially with gaiters. Leather gloves, wool hat and scarf are a must. We use a big down parka from Cabelas and havel loaned it out many times for trips north. Happy travels!

Bridgewater
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8. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

Actually, depending on your activities, you may not find it too bad. It's a different type of cold and if the sun is out and there's no wind, I can easily handle just simple layering with down or fur coat. I think good boots, hats and gloves are a must at all times, but if I'm hiking, the jacket in usually in my day pack. (Never take you hat or gloves off). However, when the sun goes down, it can be bitter cold. Coming from the NorthEast where you really "feel" the cold and dampness, you need to be careful. I got a case of frost nip, it was maybe -20 degrees, and can't even say I felt cold when I got it. (Again, never take your gloves off). The worst is the first day or two until you acclimate to breathing the cold. You may want to get a gater to put over your nose and mouth until you get use to it. I also take foot warmers, hand warmers, and Thermacare heat wraps to wear if I know I'll just be standing around. Especially at night, the cold is brutal. But usually I'm active as long as the sun is out, and then coming back into a heated building is brutal!!!!

9. Re: February in Fairbanks - fun or folly?

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