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Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

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Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

Hello everyone,

I'm planing to visit Fairbanks from the 3rd to the 8th of January, mainly for northern light watching ( never seen it before xD). I don't want to miss the northern lights, but I also don't want to run out of things to do during daytime. Thanks!

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Healy, Alaska
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1. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

Maybe consider doing a night or two there and spend the rest of your time in/near Fairbanks. :)

Seward,Alaska
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2. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

Are you renting a car? There are LOTS of places to view the lights.

The hot springs are great but after several stays, the rooms and food is terrible. Much better options in Fairbanks.

Los Angeles...
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3. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

will be there on late February 2017 with four of my friends. I'm from Los Angeles Planning to rent a car drive out of the city to see lights i'm not used to drive heavy snow area before any suggestion thanks

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Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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4. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

Generally, Fairbanks doesn't get a ton of snow . . . it can happen, but generally Fairbanks is cold and dry - that is why it makes such a good place to view northern lights because of that clear/dry weather. However, even in town, the intersections tend to get icy . . . that is more of a pain to drive on than snow, which provides some traction. Drive slow & careful . . . brakes are not your friend on icy/snowy roads. :)

Edited: 12:48 pm, December 07, 2016
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Nashville, Tennessee
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5. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

As coalminer says, there will be ice on the roads. Be cautious and careful if you are not used to driving in icy conditions. One issue that often arises is that tourist or those not comfortable driving on those conditions end up going the same speed as the locals (that may drive 100+ days each year in that condition). There is a learning curve and after 1-2 days, you can get a little over-confident if not careful.

Slow and plan for stops and turns. Ice is moch worse than snow. Listen to coalminer, he has the experience.

Alaska
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6. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

Stephan brings up a good point about locals driving, and we often times drive faster than those not experienced with winter driving. Lots of tailgating up here too. If you are uncomfortable with how someone is driving behind you, pull over and let the faster driver ahead of you. We are lifelong Alaskans, and we always do this, whether it is summer or winter. Alaskans can be the nicest folks you'll ever meet, but when some folks get on the road, they are h#llbent for speed and believe me, it is much nicer having an impatient driver behind you, not in front of you. Safer for you in all ways possible. 🤗

I grew up in Fairbanks and started driving the area at 14, a very long time ago. Taught our kids how to drive in Anchorage, our home of 40 plus years, and I'm lousy at conveying awesome driving tips. I just know how to do it, like a second language. One tip: do NOT slam on your brakes. Pump them. Practice in a parking lot and make sure you know how to operate your rental vehicle before hitting the road. That alone will increase your confidance!

Have fun chasing the lights and be careful out there in the dark. Have cold weather gear with you, no matter what. Fairbanks weather is nothing to take lightly, when it comes to being prepared for emergencies! Deb

Edited: 6:36 pm, December 08, 2016
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Winnipeg, Canada
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7. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

"do NOT slam on your brakes. Pump them."

Assuming the OP is renting a car with ABS, that is the opposite of what a driver should do. Hit the brake firmly and keep it down. If you feel a "pulsing", that is the ABS doing its job of pumping the brakes for the driver, far more quickly and efficiently than a human can do and thus stopping the vehicle in the shortest distance possible. Pumping ABS defeats the purpose of having the computer.

Good idea to practice in a large parking lot to get the feel for driving in ice and snow.

Alaska
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8. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

Oooops......good eyes MM. Thanks! Last time I offer advice cause I am so used to driving older vehicles, not nice new rental cars.

My natural impulse is to say "if you do not know how to drive in winter conditions, please do not do it up here", but all our newer residents might take issue with my advice. You gotta love winter. Lately in Anchorage, it seems to be all about driving on ice, rather than snow.....but eternally praying that snow starts falling and doesn't stop for weeks. ☃️ Deb

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Winnipeg, Canada
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9. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

Deb, you're welcome to take as much of our snow as you'd like. We got a huge dump of it the last few days, somewhere around 11 to 12 inches, with drifting in places my sidewalk was up to my knees... It seems all I've done for 3 days is shovel snow. On the bright side, great exercise! And luckily it was warmer then, tonight with wind chill it has dipped to -1 F. I'm glad all I had to shovel out tonight was the garbage can for tomorrow's pickup!

Edited: 9:04 pm, December 08, 2016
Alaska
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10. Re: Stay in Fairbanks or Chena hot springs?

The roads are really bad right now, glazed with ice. Keep your lights on all day. Give yourself room to stop. Take turns slowly.

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