THE GOLDEN HEART OF ALASKA
Fairbanks is located in the heart of interior Alaska 370 road miles North of Anchorage, about eight hours by car. Fairbanks is Alaska's second largest city with over 80,000 residents in the greater Fairbanks area. Located near the confluence of the Tanana and Chena Rivers, the town was originally founded in the early 1900's as a trading post serving stern-wheeler riverboats and early gold prospectors.
Fairbanks is called "The Golden Heart of Alaska," a reference to the character of her people as much as to the location of Fairbanks in Alaska's interior, or to the discovery of gold in 1902.
The town still plays an important supply role in Alaska due to its proximity to the Arctic region and North Slope oil fields. Fairbanks typically enjoys long sunny days during the summer months, with temperatures frequently passing the 70 degree mark.
Alaska may be known for its harsh winter climate, but the residents of Fairbanks prefer to think of their wonderful Alaskan summers, and enjoy them to the fullest while they can. The Interior has temperatures ranging from 65° below zero in the winter to 90° above zero in the summer.
Alaska Gardens abound in the Fairbanks area as gardening is a very prevalent hobby. Because Fairbanks is just 188 miles South of the Arctic Circle (above which the sun neither sets during the summer solstice, nor rises during the winter equinox), it has very long summer days. The shortest winter day of the year has less than three hours of sunlight, the longest (around June 21) never really ends.
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Alaskaland Pioneer Park is another popular attraction and Alaska's only frontier theme park. Visitors can stroll back in time and enjoy entertainment throughout this 44-acre area. An Alaska Salmon Bake and The Palace Theatre & Saloon comedy revue is offered at this Park.
||Gold Dredge No. 8
Work up an appetite panning for your keepsake of gold. Afterwards, savor a hearty miner's stew at the authentic Gold Dredge No. 8. When all stakes had been claimed and the rush for gold had faded in the Klondike, the sourdoughs headed west toward Fairbanks in the hopes of making their fortunes there. Trouble was, the gold in Fairbanks lay buried deep under a layer of "muck" that had to be dug out. Thus the gold dredge was conceived, a sort of floating gold pan that combined the four parts of the mining process - digging, sorting, gold-saving and disposal of tailings.
One of these giant diggers was Gold Dredge No. 8, a massive four-story-tall machine that was in operations right up until 1959. The dredge represents such a valuable landmark to the historical archives of Alaska that it has been placed on the register of National Historic Sites. Today it is one of the few gold dredges still open to the public.
Visitors to Gold Dredge No. 8 are treated to a guided tour inside the dredge where they'll hear tales of the rough-and-tumble gold rush days and the hardships faced by the original dredge operators. A video presentation gives visitors insight into the gold mining operations, and they can see for themselves relics from the dredge's early days, including mining artifacts, and the workers' bunkhouses at Fairbanks Creek Camp.
Would-be prospectors are encouraged to "grab a poke of dirt" and pan for some gold of their own. A strike is guaranteed and panners can keep what they find as a memento of their visit. The tour is topped off with a hearty miner's stew and biscuits served family-style in the camp Mess Hall. With memorabilia all around, the dining hall provides a fascinating opportunity to step back in time and relive the glittering gold rush days of 100 years ago.
Riverboat Discovery III
The number one attraction in Fairbanks, this three-deck stern-wheeler provides 3.5 hour cruises twice a day throughout the summer. Cruising on the Chena and Tanana Rivers, the trip features stops at a recreated Indian village, a sled-dog training school, a narrated viewing of an Athabascan Indian fish camp, and a flyby performance by a genuine Alaskan bush pilot. Alaskan native guides who have worked and lived in Alaska will take you on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village.
||Gates of the Artic National Park and Anaktuvuk Pass
Experience the most dramatic scenery on this full-day tour from Fairbanks, flying into the heart of the central Brooks Range, the Northernmost mountains in North America. Visit an Eskimo village and travel with an Eskimo guide on an eight-wheel, all terrain vehicle. Anaktuvuk is a unique eco-system where ancient mountains, arctic tundra, and Eskimo culture come together for an unforgettable experience.
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