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“Great aurora viewing”
Review of Ski Land

Ski Land
Ranked #42 of 100 things to do in Fairbanks
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Ski Land, home of North Americas furthest north chairlift, offers downhill skiing and boarding on the weekends with nightly Aurora viewing in our warm lodge.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Lockers / storage, Food available for purchase, Activities for older children
Reviewed 14 March 2013

We went to Ski land on the Steese highway 4 times during our visit to. Fairbanks in March 2013. Great aurora viewing with a rustic warming hut with free coffee and tea. spectacular views and great photographic opportunities.

2  Thank Travelersrus2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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25 - 29 of 35 reviews

Reviewed 2 October 2012

If you are in the Fairbanks area from early September to late Spring, Mt. Aurora Skiland is the place to see the aurora borealis. There is a $25 per person charge, but as noted in the earlier reviews you get a warm, indoor location with a closed circuit TV on the sky to wait, hot tea and coffee are provided, and the hosts are knowledgeable about the aurora.

3  Thank CaseyDallas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 April 2012

We took a self-drive "tour" from our Fairbanks hotel to Mt. Aurora Skiland to see the aurora. Along with a large tour group already at the lodge, we were able to monitor the lights from a warm, indoor location. When it's below zero, this is the best way to watch for the lights. We saw an amazing display and got great photos. While it was crowded in some indoor spots, it was way more comfortable than sitting in a car. Everyone was friendly and in a good mood. The "tour " was $25 each, lasted from 10 to 2 am (although we left early) and included hot chocolate. If you are in the Fairbanks area to view the aurora, check out this excellent option. We are glad we did.

3  Thank Dpvid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 January 2008

If you are seeking a warm place to watch for the “aurora borealis”, the Mount Aurora Skiland, twenty miles north east of Fairbanks is definitely the place for you. One of the more elusive items on my "bucket" list, viewing the "aurora borealis", was quickly checked off (and more) on my first visit to the Mount Aurora Skiland.

While the Mount Aurora Skiland was originally set up only as a winter downhill ski operation, it has been expanded into a warm, high tech "aurora borealis" viewing platform nightly for tens of thousands of visitors in season each year by Brenda and Stephen Birdsall, along with son Troy.

The Birdsalls turn their ski lodge restaurant into a warm "waiting" room, complete with hot coffee, chocolate and prepared soups nightly from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., just twenty miles from Fairbanks!. Skiing is still offered on weekends during the day light hours.

While the Birdsalls cater to large and small groups of tourists, many from Japan and China, who come to Skiland specifically hoping to see the "aurora borealis". they do accommodate non-lodge guests on an advance reservations basis. The nightly viewing period starts at 10 p.m. and lasts until 2 a.m. Fee is $25 per person and includes the coffee and hot chocolate.

My Fairbanks host, Clodagh Thompson, Grandview Bed & Breakfast, Fairbanks, first made arrangements with Brenda, for January 27, 2008, I was met by Stephen at the Mount Aurora Skiland entrance at 10 p.m. and, after plugging in my rental vehicle's electric warming system, I was quickly escorted into the very warm "aurora borealis” “waiting room.” I was the only guest that night.

In the corner, near the front door and exit to the snow covered viewing area just steps away outside, stands a large flat screen monitor which is connected to a camera mounted on the outside wall, pointed at the “big dipper”. Rows of tables with chairs are available for guests to sit, chat, eat and drink as they watch the flickering screen while waiting for the “Aurora Borealis” to appear.

Stephen, and Troy, use an exterior mounted high tech camera to detect the early light images given off by the on-coming “aurora borealis”. Stephen explained that he got cold standing in the open air over the years while waiting for the “aurora borealis” displays. He decided that the “early warning” provided by the flickering screen would make waiting for the “aurora borealis” much more comfortable for not only himself but for the many guests who come almost nightly in season. This also allows the guests several minutes to get fully bundled up and cameras ready to head outside. Stephen also uses red light bulbs in the waiting area to minimize the time that eyes need to adjust to the darkness outside the room.

Stephen explained that the “aurora borealis” does not show every night and each display may last from only a few minutes to hours. That proved to be the case in the three consecutive three nights that I visited Mt. Aurora Skiland.

We drank coffee and hot chocolate and watched the screen and discussed the possibility of a sighting. (Stephen and Brenda do not serve any form of alcoholic beverages at Skiland for safety reasons.) About 10:30 p.m., we went outside and he pointed out, using a laser light, the major features of the night sky as well as the faint band of the “aurora borealis” near the horizon. He said we should be patient and that it would come along. After an hour of waiting, staying nice and warm inside, it did “come along”, It appeared as a narrow green strip of light that rose about 15 degrees above the northern sky. It made a few bends and crooks and then it dropped back to the horizon and out of sight after some 30 minutes of minor activity. It was my first sighting of an “aurora borealis”. Not the best display but I got to see the magic lights!

During this time period, I shot about 20 images using the ski lift and adjacent buildings as foreground for reference. The best part of the evening was the ability to quickly walk back inside the Skiland restaurant. I chose to shoot two or four images before returning to the warm room to review my images. This also gave me a chance to warm up not only myself but my camera and my tripod. Stephen and I departed about 1:30 p.m.

There was another first for me, too, on this night. I realized as I stared up into the night sky that the "north star" which was always on the far northern horizon in Huntington Beach, California, was almost directly overhead.

One the second night, I chose to move away from the lodge to an area just down the hill at a cleared area reserved for buses that bring tourists up from Fairbanks. The foreground had trees and snow. At about 10:30 p.m., the green line began to move across the sky at about 20 degrees. After about thirty minutes, suddenly, the lights seemed to leap up high into the sky all around me. I quickly began to take more images and did so for about 45 minutes as the lights took on various forms, curtains (vertical rays) and colors. Most “aurora borealis” are greenish yellow. This display grew into white and green colors and spread from horizon to horizon. Soon it was 12:30 a.m. I was totally in awe of the phenomena that I had witnessed and photographed.

On the third night, I joined Brenda and Stephen and several of their guests for dinner at the nearby Mt. Aurora Fairbanks Creek Lodge. They, too, had witnessed the spectacular “aurora borealis” the night before. Stephen told us that he rated that event as a seven out of ten! After extensive chit-chat, two of the guests, a retired couple from North Carolina, and I drove around the hill to the nearby Skiland to join Stephen in the wait for the “aurora borealis”. We sat and stared at the flickering screen until midnight when a small while line began to appear on the screen. We dashed out only to discover in a short time that this was not the night! After an exchange of pleasantries all around, we all departed.

One out of three, and a 7 out of 10 rating for the second night. Spectacular.

The thirty mile drive back to the Grand View B&B passed quickly as I mentally went over what I had seen over the past three nights. It was well worth the time and effort to visit Fairbanks in the cold of winter. The experience was enhanced also by the warmth of the Mt. Aurora Skiland "waiting room"!

29  Thank photoguy66degrees
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 weeks ago
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Thank RYUSKY
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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