We viewed the Northern lights at Chena Hot Springs Resort in Alaska, the U.S. in December 2016.
1st day: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport – Fairbanks International Airport – Chena Hot Springs Resort
2nd day: Northern lights viewing at Chena Hot Springs Resort
3rd day: Northern lights viewing at Chena Hot Springs Resort
4th day: Chena Hot Springs Resort – Fairbanks International Airport – Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport
1st day: Fri, December 2
My husband watched TV leisurely before departure because he was used to getting on a plane for business trips, but when we arrived at the airport, the luggage check-in was over. We reserved the next flight and contacted our accommodation in a rush. Because it was different from my husband’s usual business trips, we had extra trouble. We left from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport three hours behind and transferred at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
2nd day: Sat, December 3
We arrived at Fairbanks International Airport around 3 A.M. We had reserved a paid shuttle, but it was canceled because of non-business hours from our missed flight. There were hardly any taxis at midnight, but luckily, we caught one. We arrived at Chena Hot Springs Resort around 5 A.M. in the morning.
After we checked in, we took a nap. We had breakfast and went to see the information board at the office, which said that the aurora forecast was level 2, the highest temperature was -21 degrees Celsius and the lowest temperature was -31 degrees Celsius. It was freezing cold outside, so we rented a set of coats, pants, and boots ($30 p/p a day) for protection against the cold.
We killed time by doing activities in the resort in the daytime.
At first, we got into a hot spring. We changed into swimwear in the changing rooms and walked through the indoor pool to get to the breezeway, which led to the rocky hot springs. It was -31 degrees Celsius, so all of the hair on our bodies froze. After getting into the hot spring, it was very cold on the breezeway, so we had to go back to the indoor pool in a hurry.
After that, we went to an ice museum ($15 p/p), which we had reserved. The lit-up ice sculptures were lined up in the Gothic museum. We were able to have an apple martini ($15) poured into an ice glass.
After that, we participated in the Kennel Tour ($20 p/p). At first, we listened to the explanation of the dog sled by a musher, and we pet Siberian Husky puppies which were in training.
There were many Siberian Husky kennels outside. They were very cheerful in -31 degrees Celsius, so I thought that their breed was very hardy.
We were able to pet them until the tour ended. Some were friendly, and some were shy. Anyway, they healed us, so I recommend this tour.
After dinner, we took a nap until around 11 P.M. The information from the resort said that it was good to check the sky between 11 P.M and 3 A.M. every half hour to an hour.
The Northern lights began to be seen about 12 A.M. We had set our camera to monochrome, but we didn’t realize it. We saw something like white fog with the naked eye, so we thought that was the Northern lights.
My husband found out about the camera setting and we reset it in the Aurora Cafe, which was the indoor waiting place. We were able to take photos well this time. There was something like white fog, which was the green Northern lights. We took photos until around 3:30 A.M. and called it a day.
11:00 Getting into a hot spring
13:00 Aurora Ice Museum
15:00 Kennel Tour
23:00 Start to observe the Northern lights
03:15 End of observing the Northern lights
3rd day: Sun, December 4
We got into the hot springs the first thing in the morning.
After breakfast, we went to see the information board at the office, which said that the aurora forecast was level 2, the highest temperature was -24 degrees Celsius and the lowest temperature was -36 degrees Celsius.
We rented cross country skis ($25 p/p a day) and walked around. We were more tired than we thought we would be from walking with skis on flat courses.
The Northern lights appeared about 12 A.M. on this day too. I wondered if the Northern lights were fainter than the previous day because the photos were vague. I also thought that maybe the camera setting was not correct.
09:00 Getting into the hot springs
13:00 Start cross country skiing
17:00 End cross country skiing
00:00 Start to observe the Northern lights
03:00 End of observing the Northern lights
4th day: Mon, December 5
When we returned the cold protection sets to the office, we saw the information board, which said that the aurora forecast was level 2, the highest temperature was -25 degrees Celsius and the lowest temperature was -33 degrees Celsius.
We went to Fairbanks by shuttle departing at 12 P.M. We had time until our departure in the evening, so we had a meal at a sushi restaurant in town.
The Northern lights can be seen when there are no clouds, even if the forecast level is low.
We would be able to see the Northern lights with the naked eye if the aurora forecast level was high, but we were not able to catch them without a high-sensitivity camera and a tripod during our stay. There were some visitors who didn’t have an appropriate camera for the Northern lights, so we showed them our photos, or we were asked to take photos for them and send them by email. Though we took a minimum-requirement camera and a tripod, we weren’t able to use the camera efficiently because we lacked the knowledge for use in this situation. Unfortunately, we didn’t get good pictures.
We should have taken items to kill time because the Northern lights did not appear for a while.