To see Aurora or the Northern Lights is one of my dreams that I muse see once in my life. I just knew that we can also see it at Alaska (I thought we must go to Iceland or Scandinavian countries because many Thais are going there). I also just realized that Alaska is the best place to watch the Aurora (from asking local people and Japanese who come visit Alaska a lot). Let me get back to you later of why this is the best place to see the Aurora.

Alaska (The Last Frontier)

It is situate in the northwestern extremity of the Americas. The British Columbia and Yukon of Canada border the state to the east and Russia to the west crossing the Bering Strait. On the north, it boarders Chuckchi Sea and the south boarders the Arctic Ocean.

Alaska is the largest state in the United States but is the 3rd least populous state. So it is the least densely populated state in the United States and half of the population live in Anchorage.

Previously, this state was part of the Russian Empire but the United States purchased it from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867 for 7.2 million U.S. dollars (approximately 2 cents/acre). Alaska was admitted as the 49th state of the United States on January, 3, 1959.

Once I knew that we can watch the Northern Lights from Alaska, I started to plan the trip. I also invite 2 more friends to join the trip. Altogether, it's me, my wife and our 2 housemates at San Francisco.

Since Alaska is part of the United States. so we don't need to apply for the visa as we study at San Francisco. It is quite easy to fly to Alaska as well. We fly from San Francisco to Seattle and then change the fight to Alaska.

For this trip, many people suggest us not to go to Alaska during winter as it's very cold and everything will be closed. But I want to see the Northern Lights. If I don't visit during the winter where the night is longer or equal to daylight but go during the summer where the daylight is almost 24 hours, then what's the point. Similarly, when I look for information from online they also suggest not to visit during the winter. However, Alaksa during winter has more to offer than the Northern Lights.

I prepare this trip for 3 months before travelling. I find the best time to visit where the weather is not extremely cold is during the late February to the early March. During this time, Anchorage also has Sled Dog Races and the Running of the Reindeer festival. Meanwhile, Fairbanks also holds the World Ice Arts Championship.

When the date is set, now it's time to plan for the trip, book the flight, hotel, and rental car. We plan to stay at Anchorage 4 days and 4 nights, then fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks and stay there 3 days and 3 nights for watching the Aurora. The flight ticket for the entire trip is $382 each.

For the hotel, we spend 3 nights at Anchorage and drive to stay at Seward 1 night and 3 more nights at Fairbanks. The highlight is I found a hotel which is the hidden gem of TripAdvisor. It is 30 km. away from the city and the best place to watch the Northern Lights. Everyone gives it a 5 stars review on TripAdvisor and most of them are Japanese. The only way to book this hotel is by sending an email to the owner. I think this place must have some of the best to offer as it's quite difficult to book and it's not cheap and with high review. I also immediately send an email to book the place. I will come back on more details about this hotel when I'm talking about the Aurora later.

We fly from San Francisco in the evening and reach Anchorage around 22.30 p.m. (we transit at Seattle about 2 hours). Then we rent the car from the Anchorage airport to our hotel in downtown area. We stay at Guesthouse Anchorage Inn. The mobile signal here is different than the mainland United States. Once we get down from the aircraft, there's a mobile signal of which we can call out but there's no internet signal (regardless of what network you use). We rely on the airport WiFi to take us to the hotel and we also download the offline map of Google.

The next morning, after asking the hotel staff and the police, we realize that today is the last day of the Sled Dog Races which the race starts around noon (it is a 3 days racing festival). But other festival is still there. Then, we change our plan slightly. We go to buy food and sim card with the mobile signal and internet at Walmart (Anchorage has all the malls like Safeway, Walmart, Target). But the sim card we bought cannot connect to the network so we asked for the refund. Now, we will stay here a week without internet (only available at the hotel). I think it is also good to live in the world without internet so that we can spend more time with our closer ones.

At noon, we come back to see the Sled Dog Races which is held at the hotel we are staying. This is an annual races which holds every year around late February to early March. I heard that this year the snow is less, so they have to transport it from elsewhere to pave the way for this race.

We watch the race about an hour.

We need to drive about 3 hours to Seward as we will spend a night there. It is approximately 200 km drive. This route is a scenic route as we drive along the lake and pass numerous snow mountains. We just follow the Highway 1 and continue to drive south.

This is the viewpoint along the way to Seward.

Before reaching the junction for going to Whittier, there's a junction for going to Gridwood and here, there's a gas station and it's the only gas station in this area. We should go use restroom and buy any necessary things.

Then, we drive pass the junction towards Whitter and keep going south. Soon, we turn into the Highway 9 and go pass the small town like Moose Pass where everything is closed and we also drive pass Kenal Lake where the lake is all ice.

We leave Anchorage in the afternoon and reach Seward around 17.00 p.m. because we stop for photos along the way. We stay at Mountain View B&B which we book via with a 9.0 review. We are really not disappointed as the house is really cute, with a kitchen and living room. The only cons is we cannot use the WiFi due to the auntie gives us the wrong password and even though she tries to find the new WiFi but it's not working. We can just let it be and stay here without WiFi. Even without mobile signal and WiFi, we still can live as we have the Offline Google Map so we are safe from getting lost.


It is a southern city of Anchorage. It is a small town near the Kenai Peninsula with only approximately 2500 populations.

During summer, we can drive to enjoy the Exit Glacier at Kenai Fjords National Park but it's closed when we visited. We can also book the cruising tour to enjoy the Fjords and it's closed during this winter time too. In addition, there's also Alaska Sea life Center to enjoy sea animals.

Furthermore, Resurrection Bay is a breathtaking viewpoint for sunrise. There's a Safeway for shopping in this town (internet signal is also available at the Safeway).

Day 2

Last night, it was heavily snow so the next day our car and the front of the house look like this.

We wake up early to enjoy the sunrise at Resurrection Bay.

Then we go for small shopping at Safeway before returning to the room for taking shower and laundry ( the washing machine and dryer is provided at this place). We leave the place around 11 a.m. and we drive to the closest road towards the Exit Glacier before leaving Seward as it's only about 5 km. away from the way going back to Anchorage. The view at this closed route is very beautiful. A large river is flowing from Kenai Fjords National Park towards the sea but it's almost all frozen.

We leave Seward around noon and go to our next destination, Whittier, with about 140 km distance. We drive about 2 hours but along the way everything is closed. There's no restaurants nor restroom and our main concern is the restroom as everyone wants to go very much.

We get to Begich Boggs Visitor Center before going to the first short tunnel, but it's closed!!!! So we have to move on but not so far we see the fee collector station for going to the tunnel towards the Whittier. Each car pays $13 but most importantly, there's a restroom so we all survive! When the weather is cold, it's normal for us to want to use restroom often.

There's only one way route inside the tunnel towards Whittier. So there's a time scheduled from going in. Every car have to stop for the green light. We reach there around 14.00 p.m. and the next round to go in is 14.30 p.m. so we wait there around 30 minutes. We also can't go out since the weather is about -5 degree and it's windy.

The tunnel is a small road just enough for one car to go and we are driving on the train tracks!!! That means we are running on the tracks for going in and out of this town

Whittier is a very small town with about 200 people. It is the important port city since the World War II. More importantly, it is the port city that will take us to enjoy the Prince William Sound or the Prince William Strait where we can see huge glaciers and several sea animals which is extremely beautiful. The cruising program opens only during the summer time, for more information, please click

When we reach Whittier, there's only us and one more group of tourist. Other than that, there's no people around. The entire town is very quiet.

We spend about an hour here as we need to wait for the time to go into the tunnel. We drive around and take photos and leave this town around 16.00 p.m. on the same route. We get to see the sunset on the way back too. But like usual, we can't stay out too long. Just a quick photo shooting and we are back on the car.

We reach Anchorage around 18.00 p.m. and stay at the same hotel at Guesthouse Inn Anchorage. Before we go out to travel at Day 3 as planned, let me go check with the Visitor Center of this town first to see what attractions are closed for now. This visitor center is called Visit Anchorage which is located not so far from our hotel. The two staff are two kind old ladies, they give us such a good information. I forgot to mention that we are very impressed with Alaska people. They try to help the tourists in every way they could. Everyone of them is so friendly which is completely opposite to the cold weather.

Day 3

From the information we've got, we can still go as planned. That is, we will drive north to Palmer and stop along the way at Eklutna Lake as the road towards this lake is still accessible. Then, before leaving the town, we will buy some food at Walmart which is located along the way.

While going to Walmart, an unexpected incident happen. There's a white car driving behind us for quite a while and turn on the white flashing lights at the front. At first, I was telling everyone in the car that why that teens in that car followed us so seriously and turn on that annoying blue flashing lights. But while we parked at Walmart, that car turned out to be a police car and it parked behind us. A cop walked down and asked us didn't we see the sign to stop? We were confused as that car has no sign of saying it is a police car, only the blue flashing lights. So I said I didn't know it was a police car. He said once you see the blue flashing light, you must stop. So I got a Limit Speed fine as I didn't know that I suppose to drive less than 30 mile per hour in the community zone (there's a sign but I didn't see as I pay all my attention to the GPS). Then I talked nicely to the cop that I really didn't know and didn't mean to resist any charge. Even he believed, but I still was charged of resisting the arresting and got the minimum fine. He said this is for my lesson, just the fine and not other type of punishment. I just admit it without further argument, otherwise, I might face more charges.

After buying something from Walmart and pay the fine which cost me quite a lot, now it's time to move on. It takes about an hour from Anchorage to Eklutna Lake and I think it could cost less time in the summer.

Eklutna Lake is a large lake in the northeast of Anchorage. There's a lot of activities during the summer like hiking around the lake, cycling, kayaking and before we reach the lake, there's also an ice cream shop all of which are closed during the winter. This includes the Visitor Center which open from 22 May-7 September. The lake is frozen during the winter and we walk down to enjoy. I see several people are ice skating which seem very fun as the lake is spacious. It's a pity that we didn't bring our ice skate shoes so we can just walk around the lake. In fact, it's very slippery also so it requires a special that either have special rubber shoes soles or small but sharp object instead of that rubber shoes soles. In any case, we are lucky to bring it with us. Though it's still slippery, we enjoy a lot.

But what's more? I see a person cycling on the lake. He asked me to take photos for him and he said he was so scared riding on this ice. I repeated and asked him again whether he was truly scared and he said he was very scared. Then, he rode to the middle of the lake with a dog. I just stand there and speechless, so this is what you called 'very scared'?

From Eklutna Lake, we go to Palmmer in order to see several animal farms. Palmer is a medium-sized city with many gas stations and restaurants so we can be less worry about restroom and food. We drive a bit north of Palmmer in order to see musk ox at Musk Ox Farm but the owner said we must book in advance in order to get in. So we need to come back tomorrow again. Then, we go to another village at Butte in order to see Reindeer Farm. The owner said actually it's closed (during the winter), he allows us to still go see but not further than the fences. Here, they have reindeer and tule elk. If we come here when it's open, we can get a closer look of them. It opens from 1 May-7 September.

For more information, please click below, I think the kids would love it.

Day 4

Today is our last day at Anchorage as we will fly to Fairbanks tonight at 23.00 p.m. We have a program to visit Matanuska Glacier according to a granny at Visitor Center and how a grandpa at Palmer praised this place so much when we asked him about duration of getting there. He said we must go there as it's very beautiful.

We drive about 2 hours from Anchorage to Matanuska Glacier Recreational Site. This is another scenic route, it's very beautiful as we get to go along the Matanuska River which has now turned into ice. I have to say again that it's so difficult to go out and take the photos because it is -5 to -7 degree and windy. We must do a quick shooting and get back on the car.

Here is Matanuska River.

We reach Matanuska Glacier around 14.00 p.m. (We left Anchorage around 11.00 a.m. as we drove to see the Northern Lights last night but didn't see so we woke up late).

About a mile further to Matanuska Glacier Recreational Site, there's restaurant and hotel named Long Rifle Lodge. We can use restroom, have food, enjoy tea and coffee here.

When we drive about 0.5 mile back towards Matanuska Glacier Recreational Site, there's entrance to the Glacier on the road (a small yellow house is located at the entrance). If we come in the summer, we can drive down. But in the winter since the road is steep and icy, private car is not allowed. We must call the staff to pick us up which we can ask for the staff telephone number with the staff at Long Rifle Lodge. The fee for taking us to the closet stop of Glacier is $25 per each person. But if we want the guide to take us walking up on the Glacier, it is $100 per each tourist. It takes about 2 hours to walk around the Glacier and we didn't have enough time since we have to drive back and return it at the airport and take the flight. So we decided not to walk on the Glacier and just walk around. We then pay $25 each for the pick up service.

And this is the guy who takes us to Matanuska Glacier. The girls are so happy because he is so handsome. But what scared the only guy in the trip like me is while he is driving us down with one hand, he often turns back to talk to the girls.

Matanuska Glacier

Matanuska Glacier Is the largest glacier of Alaska accessible by car (most of the Glaciers is accessible by boat) The glaciers here have a length of about 41.6 km with a width of approximately 6.4 km. The glacier has this shape since 10,000 years ago and has not changed its shape for two decades. Since the Matanuska Glacier is located in the valley, the weather is relatively cold as there's a cold wind from Glacier and warm wind from the north side of the mountain. Thus, it makes it a great place for tourists to visit. More importantly, here is open to visitors throughout the year.

Along this walkway, you might see the strong sun but it's very cold.

We stay at Matanuska Glacier about an hour and drive back at around 16.00 p.m. Along the way back, we see someone is driving on the lake, so we also want to try.

Matanuska River on the way back

Before we reach Palmer, we see beautiful lights at Matanuska River so we stop for photos. My hands hurt so badly as it's extremely cold.

We fly out from Anchorage at 23.00 p.m. and reach Fairbanks around midnight. After renting the car, we drive out and we see the Aurora but yet so strong. We see the good one at the end and I'll get back to you about it later.

Let me tell you a bit of how to trace the Northern Lights at Fairbanks on our first night so you guys can have some clue. After we land at midnight, we see the Northern Lights right away when driving out of the airport. Everyone in the car gets so excited but I cannot see as I have to drive. I feel so uneasy as the chance to see the Aurora doesn't come easily.

To see the Northern Lights, we can't forecast over a long period of time. From what I searched from the website, most of them can be forecast only 2 days (from what I see, it's also not accurate).

For the Thai Northern Lights information, please click:

Thank you Khun Piriya for the useful information from this website.

In addition, I also follow the forecast from the website of University of Alaska Fairbanks. I use it to see how strong the Northern Lights appear and mostly only 1-2 days forecast is accurate:

But I think the most accurate information comes from this Western photographer It seems like he/she has the Facebook page where people inform of the situation of the Northern Lights daily in different places.

More importantly, when you enter this website, on the left hand side is the globe and the green Aurora rotating I think this one is the most accurate. We can check it hourly along with the location of the Aurora and if we keep refreshing the page, we can predict when it could reach as where we are.

This is all I rely on to forecast the Aurora, other than this, it is left to how much the sky is open or how cloudy it is. Mostly, it depends more on luck. All we can do is to pray. Another important factor is location. The best way to see the Aurora is go to the darkest and open area and it's best not to get disturbed by any city lights. Therefore, most of people would go out of town and goes away from the town as far as possible in order to get a clear look of it. So, tracing for the Northern Lights is quite difficult as we might face the snow storm on the way or we need to be out in the cold in the long time to wait and in between we need to get on and off the car to warm up our body. Sometimes, we need to buy a tour package for allowing the experts who comes with equipment to take us to trace the Aurora.

On our first day, we do just like that. The first day at Fairbanks, we stay at downtown hotel named Regency Fairbanks Hotel (other days, we stay outside the city). We arrive the hotel around midnight and leave the hotel around 01.00 a.m.

The first location recommended by hotel staff is Hagelbarger Ave which is a 10 minutes drive from the hotel. From the hotel, we turn onto Streese Highway, then drive North about 6 miles and we will see Hagelbarger Ave Road. After that, we need to turn left onto this road and there's a parking where we can see the Aurora. The good thing about this place is it is close to the city but it's very much disturbed by city lights and people. When we get there, it's already 2-3 cars parking and the car keeps going in and out which disturb the photography very much.

It is very unpleasant taking photos here and the light is quite weak, let's move to somewhere else.

Another location is by driving onto Chena Hot Spring Road from Regency Fairbanks Hotel. We keep driving on this road about 10 miles and then turn onto North Nordale Road. We can just find open area along the way and stop over. But once we reach this area, the light is quite weak that we almost see nothing. Moreover, while we are going out to take photos, it's painfully cold.

Tonight, I trace the Northern Lights till very late and now my head is spinning so I have to go back to hotel disappointingly.

Day 5

On the morning of Day 5, we wake up late and just in time to check out at 11.00 a.m. Our morning destination is to go to Santa Claus house at North Pole which is only 15 minutes drive from Fairbanks downtown. Well, honestly, there's nothing much there but a shop selling Santa Claus souvenir and a giant Santa Claus statue at front.

It's good that there's beautiful ice sculpture and reindeer for us to enjoy nearby.

After leaving the North Pole, we go straight to our hotel in order to trace the Northern Lights. I would like to review this hotel quite in details as it's really amazing.

This hotel is called Northern Sky Lodge. It is about 50 km. south to Fairbanks.

I found this hotel on Trip Advisor where almost everyone gives it a 5 stars review. It's a very suitable place to watch the Aurora as it's quite far from the city and it's an open area. But the only way to book this hotel is by sending an email to the owner, we cannot book it via any website. Many reviewers call this place a hidden gem for enjoying the Northern Lights. Most of people staying in this hotel are Japanese and the owner said we are the first Thai group to stay here from his 10 years of business.

We arrive there around 16.00 p.m. and this place is open for check in at this time. But when we reach there, the owner, Mr. Pascale, is not there. Nonetheless, our room is already prepared and ready.

These seats are prepared just to watch the Aurora.

I and my wife stay upstairs and our other 2 friends stay downstairs. Both of our rooms can see the Northern Lights right from the room (no.4 and no.6 room). The price is also quite expensive but we are willing to pay as this is the main purpose of this trip.

For more details of this hotel, please click:

Outside the hotel is a large snow field which has many things for us to enjoy.

While we are waiting for Khun Pascale, we enjoy with what they have on this snow field.

When Khun Pascale is back, he introduces the house to us. He/She lives here with his/her son and a Golden Retriever called Sid. Sid is 11 years old and very smart.

Sid and one of our trip members

There's kitchen and a big dinning room. There's 7 rooms and the guests are all Japanese except us (but they didn't come together).

After the introduction from Mr. Pascale, we come out and enjoy our time again.

In the evening time, we have dinner, take a shower and relax for sometimes and then we are waiting for the Northern Lights. The sky is quite open in the early nighttime.

The green light starts to appear but it's quite weak before it's completely gone.

After that, the sky is closed and we got quite upset. It opens again around 01.00 a.m. We finally see the Aurora. It's quite strong but not dancing.

We get to see the Aurora quite well but not dancing. Today it appears for about one hour before going elsewhere.

Day 6

Today we plan to enjoy sled dog ride on Mr. Bill Cotter's dog farm. It is about 30 minutes away from the Northern Sky Lodge. We goes on 4 Mile Road and it's 2-3 miles before we reach Nenana town.

At Uncle Bill farm, he has 35 Alaskan Husky. We asked him what's different between his dog and Siberian Husky and he said Alaska Husky is the dog born in Alaska, that's all.

We are having a shot with Uncle Bill

Every dog is super friendly and active. Once we arrive, they all are barking to welcome us. Especially when the Uncle bill selecting them, they all are barking loudly as if everyone wants to run. The ones got selected look super happy.

Before enjoying the sled dog ride, we must dress properly. If our dress is not appropriate, Uncle Bill has the dress for us. In any case, he makes sure that our dress is ready to go before he let us on the ride.

Now, the uncle gives us instruction on how to ride it. We will have a person standing at the back and another sit and relax. But I must say the standing one is much more fun. Everyone agrees that standing is much more fun.

Everyone of them is very friendly and they look to want to run very much.


Let's go!

I like how each of them look very happy when running and they keep looking back to us as if to check whether we are still ok with it.

There's stop from time to time in order to change the position so everyone get to enjoy the same fun.

We spend about an hour having fun with sled dog riding and return back to Uncle Bill again.

This photo is so funny, they look like the ISIS.

But a bit too joyful ISIS....

After that, he gives a treat of tea, coffee, hot chocolate and cookies for every guest. We also talk with him and his wife, we do have a great time here.

If you are coming to Alaska and want to try this sled dog riding, please contact Uncle Bill here:

It costs $140 each and gets cheaper in summer as they will use the wheel for the sled dog not the snow. From Uncle Bill farm, we are now heading south towards Denali National Park. Uncle Bill suggested this route to us. He said it is a scenic route that we can enjoy the view along the way about one hour and a half with 77 miles drive.

Before getting back on the road again, we stop for lunch at Nenana, a small town near Uncle Bill farm. This is a restaurants opened by two kind granny who cook and serve. It is called Rough Woods. There's also a wishing well for us to make a wish. I wish to see Aurora Dancing tonight. Unbelievably, this wish is granted. It comes so much that I didn't get to sleep. I think this wishing well is so sacred. I don't know what the girls are wishes for. I see everyone of them also makes a wish.

After lunch, we move on with the long drive. Along the way, there's 2 gas stations and I heard it'll be closed in the evening.

Before going into the National Park, we stop for a photo at the Spirit of Adventure Bridge.

A bit further is Mckinley Park where everything is also closed but there's river access where we can go into the water.

Here is the river.

After that, we go into the Denali National Park where everything is in complete silent. Anyhow, we get to capture this beautiful lights after the sunset.

It's time to go back and wait for the Aurora now.

Tonight dinner we pay extra as Khun Pascale will only cook it someday. And we get to talk to Japanese guests when we dine together.

Like I mentioned earlier, most of the guests at Northern Sky Lodge is Japanese. We are the first group of Thai to stay here. When we checked in, all other guests are Japanese except us. Among these, there's environmental professor from a university in Japan. He said he comes here every year, almost 10 years now just to see the Aurora. He said he's been to many places in Alaska. He said this place is the best hotel to watch the aurora as we don't have to drive far out to see it. Even the weather is still cold, but it's not windy.

Khun Pascale also adds that Alaska is the easiest place to enjoy the Aurora as it's less windy than places like Iceland which is a peninsula that often is windy or stormy, making it's more difficult to enjoy the Aurora. However, Thai people come less here as it's difficult to come whereas Japanese can come easily. I start to wait for the Aurora since 21.00 p.m. We go in and out the house very often to warm up our body. Luckily that Khun Pascale provides a lot of warm jackets as well as different size of warm shoes for us to borrow and this is very helpful.

When we get cold, we come back in to warm our body and enjoy hot tea and coffee. When we feel better then we go out again.

At around 21.00 p.m, it comes show itself once in a medium size. Then nothing happens. Again, around midnight, it comes in full size. It is there nonstop form midnight to about 03.00 a.m. It is so breathtakingly beautiful. It is the most beautiful thing I've seen in my life.

In fact, we can also see the Aurora right from our room but the photos taken like this is not so beautiful.

I can't post all the photos here as it's really a lot. If you wish to see more of this beautiful Aurora, please visit:

Now, I'm very sleepy. Let me come back for the ending later, it almost finishes now.

I remember on the night we are watching the Aurora, I sleep about 03.00 a.m. and my body is really bad as the weather is very cold and I sleep so late. In fact, I was about to go to bed several times but once I heard Japanese makes some noises then I must also come out to see it every time.

Day 7

The next morning we wake up quite late. Once we wake up, Sid is already there waiting for us to take she/he for a walk.

We also have a Japanese friend to walk with us. She is studying English language at Canada.

Let me enjoy the tubing sliding on the snow before going back.

Let's also take a shot with the house for the memory. This house is really full of impressions. If anyone wants to trace for the Northern Lights, I really recommend this place, Northern Sky Lodge.

And before we leave Fairbanks with the flight at 18.00 p.m., we will go enjoy the world's ice sculpture event at World Ice Art Championship 2016. This event is held every year at Fairbanks. This year it holds from 22 February-27 March at George Horner Ice Park, Fairbanks. For more information, please click:

The fee is a one day pass of $15 each.

After the entrance, the first part is the Kid Park.

There's sliders for the kids to play but the kids must bring their own plastic tubing.

The day we visited, the Single Block has already announced the winner and the work is showed in the garden. But the Multi Block award has not yet set. While we are there, the contestants are still carving the ice. It's such a pity that we didn't get to see their works when it's done.

Single Block

The contestants come from all over the world. But what makes me really proud is there's also Thai contestants.

We left Fairbanks at 18.00 p.m. in order to transit at Anchorage. We go there with small aircraft and it flies really low, allowing us to see a spectacular view below.

Farewell Alaska, I hope to come back again, See you next trip!


 Thursday, July 7, 2016 10:45 AM