Known as the Golden Heart City, Fairbanks has the distinction of being the second largest city in Alaska and the only city in the Alaskan Interior.
The city was established in 1902 during the Yukon Gold Rush, as eager prospectors discovered the abundance of gold in the Chena River. The city grew as mining operations became more sophisticated, and it is estimated that seven million ounces of gold were mined between 1928 and 1959.
Gold continues to play an important part of the Fairbanks economy. Nearby Fort Knox Gold Mine grinds over 40 thousand tons of ore to extract precious gold particles, and many local attractions have been established to tell the gold mining story to interested tourists.
Fairbanks also has an enviable geographical location for nature lovers. The towering pines of the Yukon are across the border to the east, the glacier covered Denali National Park lies to the south, and the frozen mountains if the Arctic lie to the north. Fairbanks has become a home base of sorts for many adventurers – a place to recharge before undertaking the next wilderness adventure.
How to Get Around
Given the sprawling nature of Fairbanks, private car hire or taxi are considered the best travel options for tourists. There is a bus network throughout town; however, it is not always easy to navigate. Tourist destinations are considerably spread out, so travel on foot is not advised unless remaining in downtown Fairbanks.
Travel times from downtown Fairbanks:
- It is a seven minute journey to Fairbanks Transit Centre
- It is a 13 minute journey to Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Centre.
- It is a two minute journey to Fairbanks Transit Centre
- It is a four minute journey to Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Centre
- It is an 11 minute journey to Fairbanks International Airport.
- It is a 38 minute journey to Fairbanks International Airport (with services departing every hour).
- Currency - The currency in Fairbanks is the United States dollar (USD). Coins are available in 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, 50¢ and USD$1 denominations. Notes are available in USD$1, USD$5, USD$10, USD$20, USD$50, and USD$100 denominations.
- Time Zone - Fairbanks uses the Alaska Time Zone. It is nine hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Daylight savings is in effect between March and November. During this time the city is only eight hours behind UTC.
- Weather - Fairbanks has a subarctic climate with long, freezing winters and short, warm summers. Winters last from September through to May, with the majority of snow falling between October and January. Winter temperatures range from -32 to -26 degrees Celsius. Summers are considerably warmer, with temperatures ranging from 10 to 21 degrees Celsius.
- Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center - Few visitors centres warrant more than a quick stop to pick up a local map. Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center is the exception. Located just north of downtown Fairbanks, this centre incorporates an Alaskan history museum, a native culture museum and a cultural centre in addition to standard tourism services. Cultural performances and craft making demonstrations occur daily.
- Chena Hot Springs - Located in the middle of a 40 square mile geothermal area just outside Fairbanks, the Chena Hot Springs is a favourite attraction for both locals and tourists. The springs were first discovered by gold prospectors who were thankful for some hot water to rest their weary bones in after a day of mining. In addition to a soothing soak in the hot springs, visitors can enjoy a meal in the fine dining restaurant and a cocktail at the bar.
- Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge - Once a bustling dairy farm, Creamer’s Field is now a wildlife refuge for countless geese, sandhill cranes, ducks and some 100 other migratory bird species. Volunteers guide tourists on bird watching treks through the surrounding 2000 acres of pine forest and wetlands on a daily basis.