12 Apr Fairbanks Adventures: Snowmobiling in North Pole, Alaska
On our last day in Fairbanks, Alaska, we decided that we were going on an adventure. It didn’t matter that it was -29°F (-33°C) because we were ready to go snowmobiling at the North Pole.
Okay…well we weren’t actually heading to the geographic North Pole, but rather a Christmas themed town called North Pole. The town is located about 20 minutes from Fairbanks and it is home to candy cane light posts, a giant Christmas store called Santa Claus House, all sorts of holiday cheer, and lots of deep, deep snow. Snowmobiling in North Pole, Alaska, was definitely an adventure for the books!
We booked a one-hour tour with Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service and made our way to North Pole for an afternoon filled with fun. After exploring the town, we drove to a cozy log cabin in the woods and got ready for our 2:30 p.m. tour to start.
Upon arrival, we met Rodney, our guide, and got settled into the cabin. Our first line of business was to fill out paperwork, and then get suited up in all the warm winter gear we had with. Thankfully, Minnesota winters have forced us to buy a lot of warm outdoor gear, so we were fully prepared for the extreme temperatures and wind chills. If you don’t happen to have weather appropriate gear, though, Rod’s Alaskan Guide Service seemed to have plenty that you can borrow (although you might want to double check before you arrive). The only gear our guide recommended we borrow was their boots. He suggested we switch because they get their thick, waterproof, rubber boots from the military and they are all but guaranteed to keep you warm. We didn’t want to take any chances, so the huge, clunky, white boots made their way onto our feet, and soon it was time to hit the trails.
The rest of our group arrived shortly after us; then it was time for a quick snowmobiling lesson and orientation. We were introduced to our sleds, learned how to make them go, and all about the available heating components. Yep, that’s right…our snowmobiles were equipped with heated handlebars and a plug for heated helmets. Those two elements were key to enjoying the tour on a bitter cold day.
Initially, I thought a one-hour tour might be too short, but with the extreme cold, it ended up being the perfect length. It was so cold that our GoPro actually died within 30 seconds of being turned on and our iPhones didn’t last much longer. Thankfully, we had a Karma Grip attachment for our GoPro because that kept our battery charged for almost the entire hour. If the weather was nicer, though, I definitely would have wanted to go for a longer ride.
To get used to the sleds, we took several laps around the cabin. I really appreciated this because it had been a very long time since I had driven a snowmobile, and it was the perfect way to get back in the groove. Micah, on the other hand, has driven many a snowmobile in his day and he was ready from the get-go. As for the rest of our group, it was their first time on a snowmobile ever. Once Rodney felt that our entire group was comfortable with driving, off we went!
Because we were the only ones with previous snowmobile experience, we were placed in the back of the group. That way, if we really wanted to get some speed, we could go a bit slower than everyone else and then really push the limits to catch back up. And, we did just that!
While we were flying through the trails, we were taken aback by the scenery. There were moments I had to slow down just to ogle at the snowy landscapes. The trees were covered so thick with snow that they looked like they were about to collapse. At times, the trees arched so far that they created a sparkling canopy over the trail. We even spotted a few moose!
We crisscrossed our way through the twists and turns of the trails for the better part of an hour. Toward the end of the ride we encountered a long straight away. By that point, everyone was comfortable with driving, so we flew down the trail full throttle. It was quite the rush, to say the least.
Thanks to all our warm gear, we weren’t completely frozen when we returned to the cabin. We were, however, in the mood for a delicious, tasty meal to end the day. Rodney recommended Thai Cuisine Restaurant, and we obliged as we can never say no to Thai food. We even ended up seeing our other tour mates at the restaurant—it was a hit!
With full bellies, we made our way back to Fairbanks for coffee, and we crossed our fingers that we would spot the northern lights before heading back to the airport for our 1:30 a.m. flight. We couldn’t have asked for a better note to end our trip: snowmobiling and a chance to see the northern lights. If you ask us, it was pure bliss.