The North Pole, Ice Sculptures, and the Aurora Borealis (Alaska Part 3)

One of the primary reasons we went to Alaska was to see the aurora borealis. We had 6 nights to see it, including our best chance at Chena Hot Springs, where Megan stayed awake until 3:00 am, wandering outside in the cold multiple times in the hopes of a clear sky. Each time she walked back inside disappointed.

Fortunately, there were other beautiful sights to see, including the North Pole! As it turns out, Alaska has its own North Pole that–to an outsider–really does feel like THE North Pole due to all the snow. It features a reindeer farm and this giant Santa sculpture outside:

It also included what I assumed would be an interactive Santa’s workshop-like experience, but it’s actually just a massive Christmas-themed gift shop (with some delicious fudge).

One of the true highlights of the trip was the World Ice Sculpture competition, which we visited on the last day just minutes before the 2-block timer ended for the sculptors. It includes an ice playground (games and slides made of ice), plus a variety of incredibly detailed sculptures like this one, my favorite. If you look closely, you can see the bear “embryo” inside the mama bear:

This was one of the other most impressive sculptures:

That was our last night. We hadn’t seen the aurora, but the beauty of the ice sculptures made up for it.

Yet as we were driving back to our friends’ house to pick up our things, Margaret happened to look out the window…and low and behold, there was the aurora, a faint ribbon of green in the sky. Andre quickly pulled off onto a dark road, and we turned off the car to look up bask in this:

It’s truly otherworldly to see in person, and that’s even for a “weaker” aurora like this–it can be much more distinct. To my surprise, our phones picked it up better than our eyes (opposed to, say, a beautiful sunset, which I think is better to gaze upon without a phone).

Traveling north to see the aurora is a gamble, as you really don’t know if you’ll be able to see it on any given day. But I’m so glad it worked out for us. Have you seen it?

3 thoughts on “The North Pole, Ice Sculptures, and the Aurora Borealis (Alaska Part 3)”

  1. Unfortunately we didn’t see it in Iceland (a country I want planning to visit as they cruelly kill Whales – it’s mainly tourists that eat them)

    We went at the ‘high’ 11 year cycle in Feb… The optimal month and during some other important moment in the earth’s solar orbit.

    Your two minute timer reminds me of something else I’m reading – Pendulum 🙂

  2. It was very surreal when I did see it…I was an Air Force officer taking language courses in St Petersburg back in 2002. Putin was still relatively innocuous, and I had a chance to see this extraordinary event in the late nights we all stayed up, enjoying our company and of course, a healthy (or unhealthy) amount of vodka.


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