Bettles Lodge, north of Fairbanks, is a great
choice for seeing nature’s light show
BY CHRISTOPHER BATIN
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FEW WINTERTIME TOURS CAN MATCH AN AURORA BOREALIS
expedition, and Interior Alaska offers a great balance of clear nights
and aurora activity that draws people from all over the world. Astrophysicists have forecast that the start of Solar Cycle 24, an increase
in sunspot activity, is expected to occur in the winter of 2011-2012
and continue through 2013. These sunspots will result in intense
auroras here on earth, with vibrant colors and substance.
“We have been told by photographers that Bettles is the best
place worldwide that they have found for aurora photography,”
said Jamie Klaes with Bettles Lodge. “The intensity of the lights
here needs to be seen to be believed.”
Bettles is about one hour north of Fairbanks via bush plane
and is centered directly under the aurora band.
“Bettles Lodge offers winter aurora viewing tours from Dec.
1 to April 10,” Klaes said. “The success rate of seeing the lights
with a three-night package is 80 percent.”
Klaes said the Bettles area has some of the clearest weather
days in all of Alaska.
“There’s little to no light pollution from nearby cities or
traffic, which makes for great photographic opportunities and
optimal viewing,” she said.
Bettles Lodge features a rustic aurora viewing cabin that is two
miles from the lodge on a scenic lake. Lodge staff will transport
guests to the cabin, or visitors can choose to snowshoe or ski there.
The lake offers a 360-degree view of the night sky.
The lodge’s Northern Lights Tour includes a one-hour flight
over the Yukon River from Fairbanks to Bettles. Parkas, snow
pants, mittens, hats, neck warmers and boots, as well as hand
and toe warmers, are provided. The lodge offers regular and
deluxe rooms with Jacuzzi tubs and a wood-fired sauna. The
package also includes guided snowshoe excursions, cross-country skiing, bonfires in the evening, three meals per day,
snacks, one non-alcoholic beverage per meal and dessert. A
full bar is also available.
The cost for an overnight tour with a standard room is $865
per person, and each additional night is $315 per person. Discounts are offered for longer stays and for children. A 50 percent
deposit is required at the time of booking. Bettles Lodge is offering a special of one night free with two paid nights in January.
Travel agents should be aware that most flights from the
Lower 48 arrive in Fairbanks late at night, and Bettles’ scheduled flights are in the morning and afternoon. One option for an
overnight stay is at Pike’s Waterfront Lodge. Before turning in,
tell clients to ask the front desk for a wake-up call if the aurora
appears. They are more than happy to oblige. ■
THE DE TAILS: Bettles Lodge ( www.bettleslodge.com); Pike’s Waterfront
Lodge ( www.pikeslodge.com). Additional aurora-viewing opportunities
near Fairbanks include Chena Hot
Springs Resort ( www.chenahotsprings.
com); Aurora Borealis Lodge (www.
auroracabin.com); and Coldfoot Camp
For a statewide round-up
from the recent Alaska
Media Road Show,
visit TravelAge West.com/
CHRIS TOPHER BATIN