A position I did not want be in when I landed in Fairbanks was to decide which places to visit. Since I was fresh, I thought I would go in for a guided tour. The average maximum temperature in July is 73 degrees Fahrenheit in Fairbanks. Situated near the Arctic Circle, it is about 8 hours away form Anchorage in Alaska’s Interior, and is the largest interior city in Alaska. Founded in 1901 as a trading post, Fairbanks now offers supplies and services to the interiors. It actually was a good starting point for my tour to Northern Alaska as well. The city has a population of around 80,000, so I decided to take the city tour first.
City Day Tour
Fairbanks is known as the Golden Heart of Alaska just because of where it is located, and also because gold was found here which led to the gold rush in 1902. There are nearly 21 hours of sunlight in the summers, so traveling is enjoying and not tiresome. I wanted to visit some of the historic places, so I boarded a nice air-conditioned coach that took me three and a half hours to cover the historic downtown Fairbanks, University of Alaska Fairbanks museum, Trans-Alaska pipeline, University of Alaska Fairbanks Botanical Gardens, and the downtown Log Cabin Visitor Center. I arrived back before noon and had lunch. I then opted to go on the El Dorado Gold Mine Tour. The weather is so good that it is easily possible to combine two tours considering how long the day is going to last.
El Dorado Gold Mine
It is located to the north of Fairbanks on the Elliott highway. I took a narrow-gauge train and traveled to a gold mine which is still being mined, where miners showed me the modern techniques used to find gold. I did try my hand at it, but I guess I was not lucky and did not find any gold. I also got to know about the historic drift mining down in the area. Tired but satisfied with my experience, I returned back to the hotel. I had a few days at hand and decided to visit the antique auto museum the next day.
Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum
I was just fascinated by what I saw at the museum. Located near the Creamers Field State Game Refuge, it has 74 American-made antiques motor vehicles including horseless carriages, the classics, and penny touring autos. It also included some rare marquees, the history and class of which were fully detailed for all to see. The 30,000 sq. ft. museum also had recorded history of the Alaskan transportation system and other vintage videos and photos.
Finally, I thought I would take a boat ride to end my tour without having to walk through the day. I boarded a genuine stern wheel river boat and had a three-and-a-half-hour cruise that allowed me to watch local activities on the shore along two rivers. At the end of the ride, I was taken on a tour that simulated an Athabascan Indian village.