After the mushers leave the Rainy Pass checkpoint on Monday, our guests find that they have almost a week before the mushers arrive in Nome at the finish of the Iditarod. Following the race from checkpoint to checkpoint is one option, but it requires a bit of an adventurer’s spirit and a fair amount of money (I will post a “Chase the Race” entry in a few days).
Most of our guests have at least a little adventurer in them, and for those that want to get a more hands-on experience with mushing can head to Fairbanks for a few days and learn to drive a dogsled.
Paws for Adventure is one of our longtime partners. Leslie has been taking guests mushing for almost fifteen years, and she offers a number of great options for those who want to experience the view from the back of a dogsled.
Photo courtesy Paws for Adventure
One of the more popular tours that Leslie offers is a three-day beginner’s tour. The first day you learn to handle the dogs and drive a dogsled at their mushing school site just outside Fairbanks. That evening you spend the night in Fairbanks. The second day you leave by dogsled out into the hills near Fairbanks, and spend the night on the trail. Some of these trips will be to a rustic cabin, and others will be a trail camp featuring Arctic Oven tents.
Spectacular northern lights displays are often visible from the Fairbanks area.
One of the reasons that this tour is so popular is that it is a great opportunity to see the northern lights. The Fairbanks area is one of the best spots in the world for viewing the northern lights. They are visible almost every clear and dark night. In addition, the weather in Fairbanks in March is particularly well-suited for northern lights viewing. March is a very clear and dry month in Fairbanks – and while that often means cold weather, the days are getting longer in March, so overnight temperatures are not quite as cold as they are in the middle of winter. This means that standing outside watching the northern lights is much more comfortable in March than it might be in January.
When you combine the good viewing conditions with a dogsled trip that takes you out into the wilderness where there are no city lights to interfere with northern lights viewing, there may not be a better opportunity to see them and be wowed by their spectacular beauty.
This adventure is one of our favorites… and we have even had a number of honeymoons and weddings that have included this trip. The weddings were performed just before midnight, with the northern lights ablaze overhead.
If you’re not feeling quite so adventurous, Leslie also offers shorter excursions, including just the mushing school (a half-to three quarters day experience), a dinner and aurora tour, and a one-hour dog sled ride. If you’re looking for a little more adventure, there are four, five and six day trips available.
Fairbanks also offers a number of other activities and attractions. In March, the World Ice Art Championships are held in Fairbanks. Ice artists come from all over the world to create spectacular ice carvings made from crystal clear blocks of ice. Sculptures range from the size you might see as a centerpiece, all the way to dozens of feet tall, made of multiple blocks of ice. At the beginning of the month, the artists are on-site creating the sculptures, so it is a great opportunity to watch a block of ice transformed into a spectacular form.
If you’re looking for a little relaxation while you’re in Fairbanks, you can make the easy sixty-mile drive to Chena Hot Springs. The hot springs offers an indoor pool, as well as an outdoor rock pool. I can tell you from experience that there is nothing quite as exhilarating as sitting in the rock pool with the northern lights overhead.
There is plenty to keep you busy in Fairbanks in March, and this side trip is a great way to spend a few days before you continue on with your Iditarod adventure. One of the beauties of this particular choice is that you can combine it with some other options, such as visiting one of the middle of the race checkpoints.
My next post will talk about hitting the trail.
If you’re interested in having us arrange your Iditarod package, give us a call at (877) 692-5275 or +19073342888. Or you can go to our website and complete our form, and we’ll get back to you!