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Road Trip to Fairbanks Alaska

Posted by on August 21, 2014

The hubby’s parents came up to stay with us for a week, and we had a great visit! While they were here, we decided to take a road trip to Fairbanks Alaska. I’ll ┬ábe honest; Fairbanks isn’t my most favorite part of Alaska. Last time I was there was 15 years ago in January on a school basketball trip. Did I mention it’s common for Fairbanks to hit 50 below zero every winter?

Road Trip to Fairbanks, Alaska - idlewildAlaska

What’s summer without a road trip?

But this trip was special thanks to some history involved. Thirty-six years ago the hubby was born; five days after that, his military dad was shipped to Fairbanks, Alaska, for 40 days of training. He hadn’t been to Fairbanks since. So, we decided to make the long 330 mile drive in a very quick trip (one day up, one day down).

Road Trip in Alaska - IdlewildAlaska

Alaska has four seasons. Almost Winter, Winter, Break-Up, and Construction.

The drive up involved lots of road construction. We couldn’t see Mt. McKinley because of the clouds. We saw NO animals (which was crazy!). We got a flat tire right outside of Fairbanks. And the morning of the second day, I realized I didn’t have all the pictures I had been snapping because there was no memory card in my camera. Sigh…

Denali, Alaska - IdlewildAlaska

Even if you can’t see McKinley, the “foothills” around the base of the mountain are beautiful!

But even with all that, it was a great trip and a wonderful visit.

After arriving in Fairbanks, doing some quick sightseeing, we ate dinner in Fox, a nearby town, at The Silver Gulch. It was delicious! Best creme brulee I’ve ever had! The halibut fish tacos were good too. For those of you who are military or retired military, the Holiday Inn Express on Fort Wainwright is really nice!

The next morning, we took the Riverboat Discovery Tour. It was so much fun! Thankfully, I had my good ol’ 35 mm camera with me, and for the shots I thought I got on my digital camera but didn’t, my father-in-law was gracious to let me use his photos.

Riverboat Discovery - IdlewildAlaska

Gotta love paddleboats!

Originally steamboating supplies up and down the Yukon River and it’s tributaries, the Binkley family now operates the Discovery III as a tour along the Tanana River, which flows through the heart of Fairbanks. Read the family’s history HERE.

Riverboat Discovery History - IdlewildAlaska

Tribute to the original captain.

Our tour started off seeing a real Alaskan Bush pilot land and then take off on the river beside the boat.

Alaskan Bush Pilot - IdlewildAlaska

There he goes!

We then continued along the river until we came to Susan Butcher’s, an Alaskan legend dog musher and four-time Iditarod champion, dog kennels. Sadly, Susan passed away of cancer several years ago, but her husband, Dave, and daughter, Tekla, are doing a wonderful job continuing her mother’s legend! See a mushing demonstration and see cute puppies already training for the big race!

Susan Butcher's Mushing  Kennel - IdlewildAlaska

Getting ready to run!

Further along the river, we swing by a traditional Alaska Native fish camp for a demonstration of traditional salmon fishing, cleaning, and preparing of tasty treats!

Alaska Native Fish Camp - IdlewildAlaska

Smoking salmon.

Near the fish camp, we got to get off the Discovery III and explore a Chena Indian village. Throughout the village were traditional trapper and gold miner cabins, lots of Alaskan animal furs, Alaskan tradition demonstrations, and much more!

Traditional Alaska - IdlewildAlaska

There was so much to see!

The drive back home was much of the same as the trip up. No animals, construction, and clouds covering McKinley. The mountain creates it’s own weather patterns due to its height, so seeing the peak can be rare.

Denali Alaska - IdlewildAlaska

Driving through Alaska always has amazing views.

The Riverboat Discovery was so much fun. I recommend it to anyone touring Fairbanks! (We didn’t have time, but I think Pioneer Land looks fun too!)

Alaskan Cache - IdlewildAlaska

I think our homestead needs a cache.

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2 Responses to Road Trip to Fairbanks Alaska

  1. Floyd Bowles

    I certainly was a delightful time! Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Janet Pesaturo

    Very interesting read. I have never been to any part of AK, but would love to go. An old high school friend of mine lived in Fairbanks for years, and very much enjoyed everything about it. It’s on my bucket list, and you are inspiring me to actually do something about it!

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