Planning Your Trip to Fairbanks

 

  1.  Check the Weather -- For trips based in Fairbanks like snowshoeing and dogsledding adventures, our neighbor has an official weather station: https://swingleydev.com/weather/dw1454/  For trips based at our homestead on the Tanana River, the forecast for Nenana, AK is your best bet.

  2. Aurora Forecast-- Check the forecast with the university's Geophysical Institute: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/auroraforecast.  Here is a good guide to aurora viewing: http://auroraforecast.gi.alaska.edu/travelers-guide.php

  3. Prepare Your Camera- Taking good pictures in cold weather involves some unique challenges.  Be prepared with this great article by Dave Shaw: https://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-take-care-of-your-camera-in-cold-weather/

Bruce Lee training at Tanana Lakes ice rink

Plan Other Winter Activities--

  1. Our friend and fellow wilderness guide Dave Shaw offers wonderful aurora tours and photography lessons.  We can do combined tours with him so you can get photos of you on a dogsled under the aurora (ideally).  Check him out at http://www.explore.david-w-shaw.com/

  2. We recommend our friend and mentor Anita Fowler's business, Sirius Sled Dogs for the best aurora tours, and cuddling the cutest puppies around- http://siriussleddogs.net/index.html. 

  3. Need a ride anywhere? Robert and Derek at Pioneer Taxi service offer great service and great rates.  They do aurora viewing and go to Chena Hotsprings and they're always early.  Call 456-4000.

  4. Want to take an educational walk in the woods? Our friends Evan and Shannon are top-notch nature guides.  Check them out on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LeafOutAK/                                                                              

  5. Our friend Mary Shields offers a great tour of her kennel and talk about her mushing career (she was the first woman to complete the iditarod) and her cabin is the coziest spot around- http://www.maryshields.com

  6. Go ice skating at Tanana Lakes Recreation Area (free, call 907 459 1070 for details) of the outdoor rink at the Big Dipper ice arena where you can rent skates for just $3 :)

  7. The University of Alaska Museum of the North is world-class and worth going to, especially on an extra cold day.  https://www.uaf.edu/museum/

jenna cooking dinner on the trail

Recommended Restaurants--

  1. We love Lemongrass Thai Food for really good Thai food made with local ingredients- http://www.lemongrassalaska.com/

  2. We also recommend Bobby's Greek food downtown, they've got a heated copper bar perfect for cold nights

  3. For a true musher experience, head to Ivory Jacks Bar in the heart of Goldstream Valley http://www.ivoryjacksrestaurant.com/

  4. For a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the best tea and treats in town, check out Sipping Streams

  5. Looking for food and entertainment?  The Blue Loon is the local spot for good food and movies too!

  6. Places to Stay:

    1. In the heard of goldstream Valley, our friends Hélène and Benoit have a cute cabin on Air BnB

    2. In the birch-studded hills above town our friend Pam rents out rooms in her cozy cabin close to us.


Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of tours do you offer?
We offer custom dog sledding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trips to groups of 1-4 people.  Tours last from 2 hours to 10 days in length.  We offer most of our tours within 2 hours of Fairbanks, Alaska at our homestead on the Tanana River, our home outside of Fairbanks, or on public land.   

How many people are on your tours?
We run all private tours, so it will be just your group.  Our preferred group size is 2 people but we can sometimes accommodate up to 4 people. Single travelers are accepted but we occasionally (with your permission) will pair you with another single traveler for day tours.

When is the best time to come?
We run tours as soon as we have enough snow (usually mid-November) until it is too hot for the dogs (usually around April 1).  Our busiest season is the second half of December and the first half of March.  December is the darkest month, with each month gaining more light.  January is the quietest time for tourism in Fairbanks so it is a good time to come if you want to avoid crowds.  February and March are generally the best time for expedition trips.  It is warmer and there is more daylight.

What is included in the cost of a tour?
All of our tours come include specialized winter clothing (big parkas, snowpants, large overmitts, boots, neck gators, hand and toe warmers, hats etc).  We ask that you wear your warmest clothing and we will add to that if necessary, but you should not need to buy a new wardrobe to come on a trip with us.  Overnight and all-day trips come with home-cooked food (with your input as to food allergies, preferred diet).  All of our trips come fully-guided by one of the owners, this means that we will be with you most all of the time, making sure your experience is safe, educational and enjoyable.

Will I see the northern lights?
We hope so.  On our homestead stays and expedition trips we take you far from the city lights and the chances of seeing the northern lights (aurora borealis) are generally good, but it will depend on weather.  If it is cloudy, you usually cannot see the northern lights.  We recommend the following to maximize your chances of seeing the lights: 

  • Stay for as many nights as possible, more nights = more chances.

  • Check out general aurora forecasts- in general the best months to see the aurora are October and March.  http://auroraforecast.gi.alaska.edu/

  • Stay up late- the lights are generally most active between 10pm-2am.

  • A full moon makes it harder (but certainly not impossible) to see the lights. 

Will I see wildlife?
That depends what you are looking for.  Wildlife in Interior Alaska in the winter can be elusive.  The boreal forest is full of life, but it takes a keen eye to see it.  Species that are common in our area include: moose, snowshoe hare, red foxes, coyotes, wolves, lynx, marten, red squirrels, ravens, chickadees, gray jays etc.  We are both keen wildlife lovers and will happily point out signs and tracks for you.

What kind of physical shape do I have to be in to do a trip?
In general, the better shape you are in, the more you will enjoy your trip.  Dog sledding involves balancing on sled runners, and often kicking with one foot, jogging or walking up hills.  Walking in snow can be strenuous.  By no means do you need to be super athlete, we have taken people well into their 80s on dogsled tours.  The most important thing is to have a good attitude.

Are there restrictions for who can join a tour?
Yes, we do not take children under the age of 10. Dog sledding can be bouncy and may involve falling off the sled, if you have medical concerns, dog sledding is probably not for you.  We are happy to discuss this with you.

Will I drive my own team?
Yes and no.  Our dogs are our family, they are also powerful.  We do not believe it is safe in most conditions to let people drive their own sleds on our trails.  For the safety of all dogs and humans invovled, we use a "tag sled" which involves two sleds that are connected to eachother with flexible plastic.  The guide drives the front sled and one passenger can ride on cushions in the basket of that sled.  The other passenger can drive the back sled.  This is a great, safe way to learn dogsledding.  The person in the front sled has a great vantage point to observe the dogs, relax, and learn about communication between the musher and dogs.  The person on the back sled is in a great spot to learn about balancing, steering and braking from watching the guide in front of them and then doing the same on their sled.  We encourage you to switch positions!

What kind of weather can I expect?
It depends on when you come.  In general we either have clear, sunny and sometimes cold weather or warmer weather with clouds.  Rain is highly unusual.  Hot weather is more of a challenge for the dogs than cold.

What is the cancellation policy?
For day-trips (dogsled adventure, moonlight mushing, all-day mushing, snowshoeing) reservation fees are fully refundable if you cancel at least two weeks prior to the date of your trip. For overnight trips (homestead overnights, expeditions) reservation fees are fully refundable if you cancel at least two months prior to the date of your trip.  We have seldom canceled a trip due to weather.  We have taken people out at -45 degrees and kept them warm and happy.

Can I pet the dogs?
Yes, please.  They would be insulted if you didn't give them some love.

What are cabin trips like?
Cabin trips involve spending your day mushing, skiing, or snowshoeing and then ending the day at a rustic cabin.  Most of the cabins that we use are heated by a wood stove, do not have running water, have either bunks with sleeping pads and bags or a normal bed (at our homestead) and have an outhouse nearby outside.  Cabins are lit by electric light, gas lanterns, candles or a combination of the three.  With the exception of our homestead, the cabins do not have electricity.  Cabins are remote and generally do not have cell or internet service.  Depending on the trip you may have your own cabin or you may share one with the guides (who can then take on the task of keeping it warm)!  The main advantages of cabins over tents is that cabins are larger and hold heat more than tents.  The disadvantage of cabins is that they make our travel plans less flexible- we have to get to them!  They can also be challenging to reserve during peak tourist times (December, March).

What are camping trips like?
Camping trips involve spending your day mushing, skiing, or snowshoeing and then retiring to a heated wall tent at the end of the day.  Like the cabins, the tents can be heated to toasty warm but at night we generally do not keep a fire going to sleep (-40 degree sleeping bags will keep you plenty warm).  They also do not have running water, electricity, cell or internet service, or tables.  Your bed is made of a raised cot, sleeping pads and warm sleeping bags.  The bathroom is outdoors, we generally create a designated spot.  Depending on the trip you may have your own tent or you may share one with the guides (who can then take on the task of keeping it warm)!  The main advantage of tents over cabins is that they allow us to go almost anywhere and camp where we please.  The disadvantaged is that we often need to put a few hours of work into setting them up and they are less spacious.  We do offer "glamping" options with some trips like basecamp trips where we arrive to an already set-up camp.  

What are homestead stay trips like?
With homestead stays we put you up in our small Sun Lodge cabin.  This is a very cute handmade cabin with a woodstove for heat, queen size bed (can be made into two twin beds), table and chairs, and solar-powered lights and charging capabilities.  We cook your meals and eat together in a separate heated cook tent.  

What is the food like?
All of the food is homemade and we ask for your food preferences and allergies ahead of time.  We want us to tell us what kind of food you like so we can make it.  A common breakfast is eggs, bacon, fruit, and toast.  Lunches are often had on the trail and include hot soups, sausage, cheese, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate etc.  Dinners often feature local meats.  


Can I store luggage with you when I am on a trip?
Yes, you can leave luggage locked in our cabin or car, but it will likely freeze.  For this reason, most clients prefer to leave their luggage checked at their hotel, most Fairbanks hotels and bnbs will do this.

More Questions?

Email or call us at borealjourneysak@gmail.com or (248) 568 0345