FAQ

How many people live in Fairbanks?
According to the US Census, 32,070 people live in the city as of 2013. That includes 10,074 active military and dependents on Ft. Wainwright. Just under 100,343 people live in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. (Eielson Air Force Base, twenty-one miles from Fairbanks, has 6,484 active military and dependents.)

When was Fairbanks founded?
Native Alaskans have lived in the Fairbanks area for thousands of years. In 1901, E.T. Barnette set out to establish a trading post at Tanacross on the upper Tanana River. The Tanana is a wide, swift, glacial fed river but that year low water forced him to put in a few miles up one of its tributaries, the Chena. Finding more miners than he expected in the area, Barnette decided to open his trading post here and move to Tanacross the following summer. He wound up staying for years because in 1902 Felix Pedro discovered gold in the area and the new city grew up around Barnette’s trading post. He became the first mayor of Fairbanks when it was incorporated in 1903.

How did Fairbanks get its name?
Fairbanks was named by its founder, E.T. Barnette, in honor of Senator Charles W. Fairbanks of Indiana. Charles Fairbanks would go on to serve as Teddy Roosevelt’s vice president.

Is there still gold in Fairbanks?
Yes, there is still gold to be found in the hills around Fairbanks. Mining and other natural resource related activities provide about 1,000 jobs for the area.

What’s the weather like in Fairbanks?
The weather is probably Fairbanks’s best kept secret. With less than 12 inches of annual rainfall and only 70 inches of light, dry snow each year, Fairbanks has just the right weather for summer boating, fishing, birding, hiking and winter snow-machining, snowshoeing and skiing. Summer days are breezy, dry and warm and most winter days are clear or slightly overcast with almost no wind. Winter temperatures can drop to below minus sixty degrees Fahrenheit but that usually lasts only a few days and it doesn’t happen every winter.

Are the mosquitoes bad in Fairbanks?
No. We have some of the best mosquitoes in the world in Fairbanks.

Are there polar bears in Fairbanks?
No. You would have to travel to the north slope of the Brooks Range where polar bears live on the edge of the broad coastal plain of the Arctic Ocean. An occasional black or grizzly bear can be seen in the hills around Fairbanks.

Are there moose in Fairbanks?
Yes, moose regularly wander through Fairbanks neighborhoods. While generally docile, they do pose a threat to humans and pets because of their defensive and protective instincts.

Can I see penguins in Fairbanks?
No. This flightless, aquatic bird is native to the Southern Circumpolar Region, only a short 10,000 miles to the south.

Do cruise liners dock in Fairbanks?
No. Fairbanks is almost directly in the middle of the state, almost 400 miles from the nearest deep water port. Many cruise lines offer cruise and train or cruise and bus combinations that include Fairbanks in their itinerary. In addition, Fairbanks has two paddle-wheel riverboat operations that offer trips on the Chena and Tanana rivers.

Can you see Mt. McKinley from Fairbanks?
Most Alaskans prefer the name Denali and yes you can. Denali can be seen from just about anywhere in the interior or south central regions of Alaska.

How tall is Denali?
Denali is 20,320 feet above sea level. That is just shy of four miles high!

What is ice fog?
When warm water vapor meets very cold air the vapor crystallizes into tiny, microscopic ice particles. The already super cold air cannot absorb these particles and this collection of ice crystals accumulates to form a thick, dense, cloud called ice fog. It usually occurs around minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Car exhaust, power plant cooling ponds and even exhaled breath from pets and humans all contribute to the problem. Ice fog is made worse when a temperature inversion occurs. Warm air acts like a lid over the cold air holding it close to the ground. Lack of wind and the surrounding hills combine to box in Fairbanks thus keeping the ice fog laden cold air in place.

Can I see the Northern Lights in Fairbanks?
Yes. Fairbanks is an excellent place to watch the Northern Lights (aurora borealis). Weather and atmospheric conditions vary making predicting when they can be viewed difficult. The best time of the year to catch them is from mid-September to mid-April. They are present year round but, because of the continuous daylight, they cannot be seen during the summer months. Lots of interesting information about the aurora can be found at the Alaska Science Forum. Although if you would like to view the Northern lights sooner go here: AURORA WEBCAM.

Is it dark twenty-four hours a day in the winter in Fairbanks?
No. On the winter solstice — the shortest day of the year — the sun rises about 11:00 AM and sets about 2:45 PM. Twilight on either end of those events extends the daylight even more. Bright, white, snow cover helps to reflect artificial light and moonlight, making even overcast nights brighter. Leading up to the winter solstice, Fairbanks loses about seven minutes of daylight a day. After December 21st, we gain seven minutes a day, culminating in almost twenty-two hours of daylight on June 21st. With twilight factored in; it doesn’t really get dark for almost a month in the summer.

Why would you want to live in a place like Fairbanks?
Fairbanks has most of the amenities of a large city without the frenetic pace and overcrowding. Crisp, clean air, beautiful surroundings, friendly neighbors, good schools, proximity to the flagship campus of the University of Alaska and plenty of indoor and outdoor activities make Fairbanks the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family.