by Phil Corless
Mount Aurora Lodge is perfect for a large family looking for a rustic wilderness experience close to Fairbanks. The lodge was originally built for gold miners, but now holds all the modern amenities that travelers have come to expect. The full suite can sleep a family of six in two bedrooms, each with a queen and twin bed. The huge downstairs lounge is filled with comfy couches and chairs, tables, mounted antlers, bear skins, a piano, and shelves of books, games and puzzles. It’s also where a free hearty breakfast is served each morning. Other amenities of the lodge include free Wi-Fi, free coffee and snacks and concierge services.
The lodge is located in the mountains above Fairbanks, away from the city lights and ground fog that can hamper views of the Aurora Borealis. There are numerous hiking trails near the lodge to explore on your own. However, the best adventure to be had is through the lodge’s very own Arctic Circle Tour, a full-day excursion north onto the Alaskan tundra. Your guides will show you the Yukon River, the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and plenty of wildlife, including grizzly bears, moose, wolves, caribou and porcupines. If you want to visit Fairbanks, it’s an easy 20-mile drive from the lodge to the city. You’ll find great dining options and kid-friendly attractions like the Riverboat Discovery, a genuine sternwheeler that cruises the Chena River, and Pioneer Park, where you can walk through a restored gold rush town or play a few rounds of miniature golf. The remote and rustic Mount Aurora Lodge, and its unique Arctic Circle Tour, will help make some great memories during your family vacation in Alaska.
Our Editor Loves
- Game room
- Quiet and remote location
- Arctic Circle Tour
- Horse Back Riding
- Theme Park
- Water Sports
- Free Breakfast
- Free Wi-Fi
- Game Room
Aurora Lodge is north of Fairbanks but not so far that you couldn’t drive into town for lunch or dinner. We stayed 4 nights after our cruise ended with hopes of seeing the Northern lights. Externally it is an old miner’s lodge. Internally it is quaint and charming and the hosts are friendly and helpful from providing information on the history of the building and area, to providing tips on things to do and see while in the area, to waking you up and making sure that you see the northern lights if they are out. A made to order breakfast comes with the room and the food was excellent. Pancakes or waffles or French toast (depending on the day), eggs made to order and the yummiest bacon! There is also coffee, juice, yogurt, bagels and toast. At night you can fix a coffee or hot cocoa to warm you up. There is a refrigerator available for you to bring your own snacks. You have access to a microwave, but no stove.
While the decor was rustic and in many cases “original” the lodge is clean and neat and the bathrooms sparkle. The lodge rooms are small but very functional and quite clean. Ours had a double bed and a single bed. I believe they have other configurations as well. The common area downstairs is large and friendly with board games, comfortable seating, tables and chairs. WiFi is available and fast (for Alaska).
Each two bedrooms shared a connecting bathroom. There is a latch on the outside of the bathroom door to give you privacy and a lock on the inside of the door to give the person in the bathroom privacy. For those of you from the “lower 48” (and we are from Georgia) this may seem strange, but I can assure you it works in Alaska and was not the most unusual thing we saw while traveling there.
We arrived in early September and were in luck and got to see the aurora on two of our four nights. Bring a camera and tripod for the 8-15 sec exposures required - the colors in the pictures are far more vivid than you can see with your eyes. You really have to stay outside of the city to see them on many nights because the city lights will wash them out.
Peak aurora season occurs during the winter, but be aware that many of the typical tourist activities and some restaurants, particularly out of the main cities, shut down in mid September until May.
The owners are friendly, the rooms were great. I love the rustic decor. The Lodge has a real feel for Alaska. Only 23 miles north of Fairbanks and the gateway to north Alaska. The swallows come and entertain us in July. The winter has a perfect spot to watch the Aurora Borealus and there is a ski place . It's a beautiful area and not over run with tourism. We both had a great time.