Fairbanks may have a reputation for chilly temperatures throughout the year, but many months offer pleasant weather and long, sunny days. Its location in the northern latitudes means more sunlight in the summer, with nearly 20 hours per day, and much darker skies in the winter. The most popular time is the summer for wildlife viewing and outdoor activities, cruise and other tours, and RVing. Winter brings lower prices, but unique activities such as aurora borealis (the Northern Lights) viewing, skiing, dog mushing, and ice fishing bring heightened visitation. The spring and fall see pleasant weather, but fewer visitors as cruises and passenger flights decrease when the weather gets cooler.High Season: mid-May to September Low Season: December to March Shoulder Season: April to mid-May, October to November
Weather InformationFairbanks experiences four seasons. Summer is warm and dry, with little rain and temperatures in the 70s and 80s. Mid-April to mid-May is the break-up season, when the snow melts and the rivers rise. The spring and fall bring slightly more rain and the latter colorful foliage as well. Winter has moderate snowfall, with less than 12 inches per month.
Crowd InformationFairbanks is busiest in the summer months, when cruise passengers visit the land portion of their itinerary. Summer events also attract large crowds, including the Golden Days festivities and the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics in July, and the activities surrounding the summer solstice in June, such as the Midnight Sun Festival and the Midnight Sun Baseball Game. The city also tends to get busy in March with the Winter Carnival and the events associated with it, including the World Ice Art Championships, the Festival of Native Arts, Chatanika Days, and the Open North American Championship Sled Dog Race.
Closure InformationSome smaller hotels close for the winter, when the cruise season is over and fewer rooms are in demand. A few attractions also close during the winter, including businesses around Denali National Park. Companies that run river tours aboard sternwheelers suspend operations when the shallow Chena River begins to freeze over, and only reopen after break-up in the spring. Similarly, some outdoor tours, including local gold mining camps close for the winter. Activities, including skiing and snowmobiling are only available in the winter.
When to SavePrices are higher in the summer when cruise season is at its peak and rooms are in demand. The least expensive time to visit is the winter, when hotel and transportation costs drop along with visitation. Deals are also available in the winter and shoulder seasons.
When to BookThose with flexible travel plans can take advantage of low last-minute airfares. However, those with a set schedule should book flights at least three weeks in advance to obtain lower prices and ensure availability, especially for travel during the high season. Since hotel prices are set seasonally, booking early or late rarely saves money. Last-minute lodging may be readily available in the winter, but it's wise to book early in the summer to ensure a specific room on a specific date. Keep in mind that many of the visitors traveling to Fairbanks are part of a group tour or a cruise package, and have booked their trips a year or more in advance.
Information provided by the Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau