Photo Credit: Wedgewood Resort Wildlife Sanctuary

Fairbanks Points of Interest

Explore these highlights of a modern city which also take you deep into the wild, and to the literal and figurative places at which they meet. Fairbanks is both the bustling urban heart of Alaska and a tiny speck of pavement dwarfed by vast tracts of open land surrounding it at every turn.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline is a man-made symbol of Alaska’s abundant natural resources resting mostly in complete isolation atop the Alaskan tundra. A viewing point gets you up close to a stretch that runs just north of Fairbanks for a chance to admire this modern marvel bisecting 800 miles of wilderness.

The unofficial end to another engineering marvel—the Alaska Highway— is marked in downtown Fairbanks at Milepost Circle, also part of the Chena Riverwalk. If you traveled north via this route, you should definitely stop for a photo opportunity to mark the end of the road. If not, it’s still worth a stop to check the distances from major cities inscribed on the sides.

Chena Hot Springs Road is a narrow band of black pavement stretching sixty miles into wilderness for a glimpse of the boreal forest and rolling hills that frame the city on all sides. At the end—a luxurious hot springs that has attracted visitors for a century.

The Cold Climate Housing Research Center addresses the problematic point at which modern-day dwellings intersect with the frigid and harsh climate of Alaska. The challenge is to keep the heat in, and the cold or driving wind and rain out. The research here informs building practices across the state.

These and other points of interest in the Fairbanks community illustrate the ways in which Fairbanksans make their lives within the natural world, still reliant on and striking a balance with it, each and every day.

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Points of Interest

Difficulty: Easy

The Chena River­walk makes for a relax­ing self-paced stroll along the Chena Riv­er and through the most scenic parks and plazas of his­toric down­town. It’s best when flow­ers are in full bloom (July-August). The path stretch­es approx­i­mate­ly 3.5 miles between Pio­neer Park and Air­port Way, with longer options avail­able. Or — park at Immac­u­late Con­cep­tion Church or in the Down­town Trans­porta­tion Cen­ter for a short­er jaunt.

Get a close-up look at one of the world’s engi­neer­ing mar­vels. Here you will find infor­ma­tion­al dis­plays about the pipeline and an exam­ple of a pig, the device used to clean and inspect the inside of the pipeline. 

Wildlife view­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties in Alaska’s sec­ond largest city. Look for migra­to­ry birds, moose, salmon & more.

In Sum­mer (May — Sep­tem­ber), The Denali Star Train ser­vices Anchor­age, Wasil­la, Tal­keet­na, Denali and Fair­banks. In Win­ter (Octo­ber — April) the Auro­ra Win­ter Train oper­ates as a flag top train between Anchor­age and Fair­banks. It stops here head­ing North on Sat­ur­day, and South on Sunday.

The Cold Cli­mate Hous­ing Research Cen­ter serves the need for safe, afford­able, sus­tain­able hous­ing in Alas­ka. This need is par­tic­u­lar­ly strong in rur­al Alas­ka, where ship­ping in mod­ern build­ing sup­plies by air can be cost pro­hib­i­tive. Many fam­i­lies are forced to live in hous­ing that is drafty, inef­fi­cient, or even shift­ing dan­ger­ous­ly on a thaw­ing per­mafrost foun­da­tion. Build­ing and insu­la­tion meth­ods that work in the low­er 48 don’t always  ...more

Bob­by Wilken, Own­er and Brew­mas­ter, walks vis­i­tors behind the counter and through the process from raw grains (stacked in the back cor­ner) to fin­ished beer, which takes three weeks from start to com­ple­tion. Vis­i­tors get a close-up view of the mill, pro­duc­tion ves­sels, and stain­less steel stor­age and fer­men­ta­tion tanks through which the beer must pass. Bob­by, an approach­able and pas­sion­ate busi­ness­man, breaks down the sig­nif­i­cance of each step  ...more

This is the site of the orig­i­nal air­field in Fair­banks, from which the first air­plane to leave the ground in Alas­ka took flight in 1913. Today, res­i­dents often use the grassy open areas to fly kites, exer­cise their dogs, or have a pic­nic. School chil­dren walk between the library and ele­men­tary school that bor­der the park to the east and west. Wildlife sight­ings are always a pos­si­bil­i­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly for birds and moose.

Once a month, res­i­dents turn out for city-wide gallery open­ings fea­tur­ing work by local artists in water­col­or, acrylic, oil, sculp­ture, pen and ink, pho­tog­ra­phy, and mixed media. The art scene in Fair­banks is rich rel­a­tive to the city’s size, and at no point does it shine through more vivid­ly than on First Fridays. 

When you’re dri­ving Chena Hot Springs Road, keep in mind that it’s best not to rush. This jour­ney defines scenic route” as a one-day road trip primed for spot­ting wildlife, explor­ing a new trail­head, and pulling over to cast a line.

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