Article •  Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks At Borealis Basecamp

Last Updated On: February 8, 2021


Alaska leaves you wanting more. While I would say we were able to experience quite a lot during our 2-week trip to Anchorage & Fairbanks, we definitely feel like we have only scratched the surface of what Alaska has to offer. Not to mention that Alaska in the winter is nothing like Alaska in the summer. So if you have visited Alaska during the summer months make sure to come back in the winter, it is pure magic.

We stayed in Anchorage for 5 nights before making our way by airplane to Fairbanks. Our first stop on our Itinerary was the one of a kind Borealis Basecamp. The camp is located only 25 miles outside of Fairbanks and offers the perfect combination of adventure and relaxation. What originally started as a place to just view the Northern Lights, is now, almost 3 years later, a 15 dome eco-hotel.

Now you may ask yourself, what can I even do up in Alaska in the frigid cold, with limited daylight? And I would answer, A LOT, but we are going to highlight 6 of the best winter activities in Fairbanks at Borealis Basecamp!

P.S. If you are thinking about traveling to Alaska during COVID-19 then make sure to check out our previous Blog Post  “How To Travel Safely To Alaska During Covid-19” and follow our easy 3 step guide to make your arrival into Alaska hassle-free.  

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1. Heli-Hot Springs Tour

Duration: 4 hours

Inclusions: Helicopter transfer, Lunch, Hot Springs

Price: $499 p/p

I am starting with the Heli-Hot Springs Tour because it was hands down, one of my favorite winter activities in Fairbanks if not in all of Alaska.

Borealis Basecamp offers this activity twice a day: mid-day and in the afternoon. We went on a gorgeous December morning, and when I say morning, I mean mid-day since the sun doesn’t even rise until around 11 am in the winter. But this only added to our experience as we flew over the snow-covered landscapes through the sunrise and arrived at a picture-perfect secluded cabin in the woods. As our guide, Jonathan stoked the wood-burning stove in our cozy outpost, we watched the remainder of the sunrise from the porch.

The best part was yet to come: The Hot Springs. Behind the cabin, there is a narrow path winding through the forest that leads to all three hot springs. That’s right, there are three to choose one. The hottest spring is located at the end of the path and at the top of a small stream that runs down the hill and connects all of the hot springs. We optioned for the hottest with no regrets.

Time seemed to stand still during this unforgettable experience in Alaska’s pristine backcountry. The sunbeams lit up the trees and everything shimmered in a vibrant rust orange color. The steam from the pool slowly drifted into the distance before dissipating into the brisk winter air.

After a few hours of soaking and enjoying this surreal landscape, we returned to the warm and cozy cabin to enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches, heated over the fire with a cup of delicious tomato bisque. Food has never tasted so good.

2. Heli - Snowmachine Tour

Duration: 2-3 hours

Inclusions: 2h Snow-machine experience, Lunch, 15min helicopter ride

Price: $499 p/p

There is a first time for everything. This was my first time riding a snow-machine and I don’t think it will be the last. Although I was a little bit nervous in the beginning, I slowly got more familiar and used to driving such a heavy and powerful machine through the backcountry of Alaska. Nash on the other hand absolutely loved it and couldn’t wait to embark on this adventure. If it were up to him, we would have gone faster and further.

The tour started at 10:00 am, but we were asked to meet in the lobby at 9:00 to go over the safety precautions as well as get suited and booted for this once in a lifetime backcountry snow-machine experience. I was just glad for my hand warmers as well as the coveralls and heavy-duty gloves provided by the camp, otherwise, I would have been so cold.

Our guide, as with every activity at Borealis Basecamp, was professional, understanding, and knowledgeable. She went over everything in great detail and made me feel safe the entire journey.

Our snow-machine ride was perfectly timed with the sunrise, a light, unlike any other. As we drove through the vast landscape past snow-covered trees and into the clear soft blue sky, I had to stop for a moment and really soak up this very moment. Sometimes we get so carried away by capturing every bit of it, that we forget to live it. Not this time. It was perfect.

The ride to the outpost is about 2 hours long and leads along a nice stretch of the famous Trans Alaskan Pipeline. The 800-mile long pipeline system was designed and constructed to move oil from the North Slope of Alaska to the northernmost ice-free port in Valdez, Alaska. Can you imagine that this very pipeline carries an average of 1.8 million barrels of oil a day?

After arriving at the outpost we feasted on grilled cheese sandwiches heated over the open bonfire paired with hot tomato bisque.

The return to Borealis Basecamp was anything but ordinary. We traded in our snow-machines and hitched a ride back on a helicopter. We were picked up directly from the outpost and the next thing I remember was a giant moonrise that happened right in front of our eyes amid the radiant pink and blue sky.

3. Dog-sledding

Duration: 1 hour

Inclusions: Dogsleddig excursion + meet & greet the dogs

Price: $125 / hr (2 people max)

Okay, you can tell me what you want but this is almost on everyone’s bucket list and if it’s not on yours then I think you should consider adding it. It is not only fascinating to watch the relationship between the Musher and his dogs, but also such a unique way to experience the Alaskan backcountry. In our opinion, this is one of the best winter activities in Fairbanks.

Some people might come across this activity and have mixed feelings and we have to admit, so did we. We have heard multiple stories about Mushers overworking their dogs and simply using them like machines to make income. However, Dave Turner the owner of Racing Chaos loves his dogs. He knows every dog by name. He knows which dogs to pair based on their personalities for the best performance. He knows which dogs like to lead and which dogs prefer to follow. His dogs are his team and more than that they are his family and he makes sure they are well taken care of.

We had the honor to meet Dave personally the night before we booked our Dog Sledding experience and his passion and love for his dogs is undeniable. He told us all about how he got started, how he invested all his time and money into making this racing team reality, and supporting him by going on this 1-hour long ride felt right and was so much fun.

The tour takes place right outside of Borealis Basecamp. Make sure to be at the front desk 15 minutes prior to sign your waivers. If you think you don’t have the right equipment to go on this dog sledding tour, then don’t worry you can always borrow coveralls and boots from the camp. Nash and I only wore our winter jackets & boots and felt pretty cozy. BUT if you are anything like us and want to take pictures or videos throughout the ride then make sure to slip some hand warmers into your gloves. Believe me, these will save your little fingers from freezing. You will be surprised how cold they get outside of your gloves even if it is only for 5 minutes.

This tour can be booked directly with Dave or the easiest way would be to go through Borealis Basecamp.

6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape

4. Snow Coach Tour

Duration: 2 hours

Inclusions: Sunset Drinks of your choice

Price: $99 p/p

If you don’t want to whip around the backcountry by snow machine, cruise through the Alaskan air via helicopter, or get pulled through the snow by sled dogs, then I would recommend the Snowcoach tour. This is another fun way to get a glimpse of the incredibly scenic location Borealis Basecamp calls home.

The tour departs just before sunset and entails a 1-hour long ride up to a viewpoint. The path leading to this scenic viewpoint is actually a firebreak that was created 7 years ago to keep wildfires from crossing one side of the forest to the other. If you are lucky you might spot some wildlife. From the top, the camp can be admired from afar with a glass of bubbly champagne in your hand along with 360º views of the Alaskan landscape.

Although the guide sits in the front and is physically separated from the back part of the Snowcoach, you will be connected through a walkie talkie. So don’t be shy and ask away, the guide will be happy to answer any questions you might have about the area and even Alaska.

Also, did I mentioned that the Snowcoach is heated? No need for any hand warmers on this excursion.

6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape

5. Wood-fired Sauna

Duration: 1 hour or more

Inclusions: One-size-fits-all bath ropes

Price: $20 per hour

Who could possibly turn down a wood-fired sauna, especially when the outside temperatures are in the negatives?

Imagine coming back from a long day of snow machining and sitting inside solitude listening to the crackling of the wood and letting the warm air wash over your body.

Here at Borealis Basecamp, you can book the sauna by the hour. After a delicious dinner at Lattitude 65, the onsite restaurant, we slipped into our robes and walked through the cold winter night to our warm sanctuary.

The northern lights were already out dancing in the sky, so every now and then we would peak out the front door to watch the show.

6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape

6. Enjoy The Aurora Borealis

Duration: Often visible between 10 pm - 4 am

Inclusions: Aurora Borealis wake-up call 

Price: Included with your stay at Borealis Basecamp

The Aurora Borealis might be the main draw for many to come to Fairbanks in the first place. While this was also one of our biggest items to tick off our bucket list, we quickly came to understand that Fairbanks has so much more to offer. The northern lights were just the icing on the cake.

During our 3 night stay at Borealis Basecamp we were able to watch the northern lights dance a few times. Though the show wasn’t the best you could ever see, it was still so magical to watch the lights dance through the sky. For those of you looking for the best time to watch the Northern Lights, we recommend planning your trip around the months of September-October or February-March.

Seeing the northern lights can be a hit or miss just because it depends on a variety of factors. From the light of the moon and cloud cover to the solar activity. Make sure to bring your camera and tripod if you want to capture some beautiful shots because for us you could see the lights so much more vibrantly through the camera than through the eyes.

Click here to download the app we used to forecast the Aurora Borealis.

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6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
6 Of The Best Winter Activities In Fairbanks | Bare Escape
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